When I went out west to visit my brother in Calgary, Alberta, we went on a one night camping trip to Golden, British Columbia. We drove through the mountains, with the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen. It was about a four hour trip, and as we were careering along the Trans-Canada highway, my brother got tired of driving and asked me to take over. This was on a weekend, so there wasn’t much traffic, and even though I was completely unfamiliar with the area I had no problem giving him a reprieve for a while.
A few minutes after we got back on the road though, we passed over the scariest bridge I’ve ever seen. I’m afraid of heights, and on my visit, we had explored several mountain passes and logging roads, that are, shall we say, treacherous. I always managed to keep my phobia in check through all those high-flying adventures, though I was far less than comfortable with the sheer drops mere inches from the tires of his car. Makes me sweat just thinking about it.
“At 295 feet (90 mtrs), Park Bridge’s pier number 4 is the tallest ever built in Canada. The right of way of the famous Canadian Pacific Railway runs along the Kicking Horse river 289 feet (88 mtrs) beneath the bridge.” (highestbridges.com)
The bridge abutments are carved into the mountain, you pass through an artificial canyon when you approach the bridge (from the east), which obscures the bridge itself. And then you see it. You leave the safety of the mountain road and are suddenly suspended a few hundred feet above the Kicking Horse river below. The side rails are just high enough that you can’t really gauge how high up you are, but you definitely can’t miss the feeling of being in a place that seems naturally untenable.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a well built, modern bridge. Very sturdy, very safe, but that feeling of untenability is only enhanced when you come back along that route from the west, approaching it from the other side, which affords you a full view of exactly how far you’d fall if calamity were to strike. It’s an incredible view.
On our way into Golden, as I mentioned, I was driving, and I thus felt like I had some measure of control over the situation. On the way back though, my brother drove and having seen the height of this span, I was in full freak out mode. Holy carp that’s a long way down.
Admittedly, it may have seemed higher than it was because of my phobia, but it seemed like we might risk a mid-air collision with small aircraft as we crossed.
In spite of the fear, I think if I had opportunity to do it over again, I wouldn’t miss it.