Clark Reservation: Little Leaps of Faith

Jumping Across Cave at Clark Reservation

There's a cave below!

Standing on the edge of any unrestrained height over gives me a shaky, gut-churning feeling. It’s not so much the height that bothers me (I love roller coasters); it’s the fear of falling. My legs freeze up, and I think, go back to safety!

My pesky fear of falling has prevented me from experiencing some amazing hikes: I only made it halfway up Camelback Mountain in Arizona and watched in embarrassment as a little girl in flip flops casually descended the mountain. During a European backpacking trip, I spent the day shopping and gelato-eating in Florence instead of day-tripping with friends to Italy’s famed cliff-side town, Cinque Terra. But it’s getting better…

Over the last year, I’ve watched Ben walk up to many a cliff edge like he’s approaching an old friend. He did this on Sunday while we were hiking the Cliff Trail at Clark Reservation in Jamesville near Syracuse (read about an earlier winter stroll, here). I stayed back with the dogs (another Ringo and Rufus adventure) while he looked down at the deep, murky Glacier Lake about 200 feet below and up at the cloudless sky. He always stands in silence while I look on with a mix of envy, what am I missing?, and relief, at least I’m safe. The problem with the Cliff Trail is that there is a risk of falling every few feet, thanks to the natural crevices that pepper the cedar-lined, limestone rim. The dogs don’t mind, agilely hopping over them; but I do.

Ben looks down on Glacier Lake.

Ben Looks Out at Glacier La

Ever the supportive companion, Ben has created a little game when we visit Clark Reservation. We’ll call it “feel the fear and do it anyway.” He finds a crevice just wide enough that it forces me to jump, and deep enough that there’s a slight risk of bodily harm. We’re talking fall from the monkey bars, not imminent death. The first time we visited Clark Reservation last spring, Ben suggested I try a little jump. I approached the ledge and looked down into the dark vertical cave, feeling the cool air on my face. Then I stared ahead at the other side of the fissure but I just couldn’t jump: My thighs felt like cinder blocks, my feet were magnetized to the ground, and my mind was paralyzed into inaction. I wasn’t ready.

This past Sunday, when Ben and I approached a menacing crevice, I definitely experienced the weird leg sensations and don’t do it thoughts. But for some reason the thought of being a kid popped into my mind – and I made the leap. Ben’s 9-year old niece, Julia, and 6-year old nephew, Nick, are always climbing high trees in their grandma’s backyard. I thought about how they love visiting Clark Reservation, bounding over the limestone cracks with ease and ignoring the huge drop-off lurking nearby. If they have a fear of falling, they just ignore it as they make their little leaps of faith.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m currently exploring the path of entrepreneurship as a freelance writer. I’ve already felt the ground-grabbing fear; but I’ve been channeling my inner adventurous child and making small leaps forward each day. Ben is a great trail companion as he has started three businesses. He reminds me to “feel the fear and do it anyway.” Maybe someday I’ll be able to fearlessly join him out on a cliff’s precarious edge, being at peace with the risk, but for now I’m just focused on getting past the relatively minor cracks in my path.

I step away from the edge.

Clark Reservation IS Open! Hopefully For Good…

Has our governor finally gotten the message that closing 55+ NY State Parks and Historic Sites doesn’t make sense? That’s the latest news. An earlier Trailing Thought focused on the possibility that Clark Reservation might close; read it and weep (that’s what I felt like doing at the time).

One Small Step For the Fearless, One Giant Leap for the Risk-Averse.

See it on YouTube.

Where I Was

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7 comments to Clark Reservation: Little Leaps of Faith

  • Leslie

    Ohhh Linds I like this one! I also like that my fuzzy child has made another guest appearance! Hehe. Anyways, your words remind me of a powerful quote: “There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

  • Kathleen Sullivan

    It’s a great turning point in life whenw we realize that we can do things IN SPITE of fear instead of NOT doing things BECAUSE of fear. Every time I get on a plane, I tell myself that I can either get there with white knuckles or get there having watched a favorite movie—either way, though, I get there! Besides, a good dose of fear is responsible for the survival of humans over the long haul! Go for it, Linds!

  • Fred Miller


    Be careful! I am afraid of heights!


  • Lindsay

    Thanks Fred, Les, and Kathleen for the comments :).

    I should also mention my other fear: centipedes! I’ve gotten better about facing them, thanks to this a particularly big one that sometimes scurries past the basement door at night when I take Rufus out (did you know centipedes are nocturnal? creeeeeppy!).

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  • Mom

    Remember Zion? You and dad hiked the narrow canyon while Erin and I rode the horses. You’re right when you say remember the kid in you – you went for it then and now you’re going for it again—your jump to entrepreneur. I’m taking a Leap of Faith myself this year – retiring- but I see it as a new adventure in my life. Ben’s words of wisdom “feel the fear and do it anyway” are helpful. ….Sad to say ….I’m still afraid and dislike roller costers – but I love life with all its curves and ups and downs!!! :)


  • Julia and Nick

    L-I’ve climbed many trees and rocks during the past few years. You should not be afraid of crevices and when you take a leap, don’t think about it, just leap. I know you can do it! Love, Jules

    L-Why are you scared of it? Do you think somebody is going to fall in? Do you think you would fit? I think no. Love, Nick

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