By Kaitlyn Davis
I woke up, opened the curtains and looked up into the very thing that was causing my anxiety. Looming before me was the curving slope of the metal bridge that helped make Sydney Harbor famous, the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I couldn't tear my eyes away, I was scared for the first time in a long time.
The morning passed in a blur of breakfast, changing, talking and walking. Before I knew it, I was in a room getting the low down about the Bridge Walk. Our guide stood at the front of the room, pointing to some gear and some maps, explaining how we would walk and where. I could barely pay attention, because my fear of heights was creeping in on me.
The guides handed us some gear, and I stepped into my gray jump suit fully equipped with clips, a flashlight, a hat and gloves. We were led to a special entrance to the bridge, and clipped on to a zip line which ensured that we would not fall off. My father, middle sister and I led the group, following right behind the guide, and my mother and oldest sister, along with everyone else, followed behind us.
We walked along a metal path, it wasn't scary like I had assumed, until we reached the bridge. The first step on the bridge was a ladder climb. Next to me, I heard and saw cars zooming by, and on the other side I saw some trees and lots of water. I climbed, and climbed and it didn't seem to stop. I climbed three ladders, some metal stairs, some more stairs, and finally I stopped at the bottom of the largest set of steps I had ever seen. The Australian flag waved to me at the crest of the bridge, my destination which stood hundreds of feet away. My father took large steps, climbing quickly, and my sister and I raced after him. I realized that the faster I climbed, the less I realized how high I was actually going. I know that makes no sense, but with my mind set on practically running up the stairs, I had no time to process the water getting further and further from me.
Finally, the only thing above me was the blue, white and red of the Australian flag. I almost wanted to close my eyes, but I knew that after the climb I need to force myself to look down. Far, far below me, I saw the crashing waves of the tumultuous Sydney harbor and the boats coasting along the surface seemed small. I could see all the way down the harbor, to the ocean on one side and the Blue Mountain Range on the other. The world seemed to curve, just like I always see in all of the pictures and the thing that really caught my eye was the Opera House. It's strange exploding architecture sparkled in the sun and almost blinded me, but I didn't want to look away...until I heard my sister laughing and pointing.
I followed her finger and started laughing outrageously. I needed to hold onto the railing to keep from falling off, because the sight of my mother and sister countless stories below me was hilarious. They were both little dots in the distance, and seemed to be struggling while the rest of the climbing group waited patiently behind them. I grabbed onto my middle sister and we hugged each other to try to calm our barking laughs.
"Girls, calm down. Stop making fun of your mother and sister," my father scolded but I saw the smirk on his lips.
We watched, and watched, probably for twenty minutes, while the rest of my family slowly reached the top. We laughed at their struggled breathing and bent over shapes. I saw their awed expressions, and realized my face had probably looked the same.
The guide set us up and took pictures for the family from different angles and then told us it was time to cross.
I'll say it again...What!?
I looked at the tiny platform the guide walked over and almost started to shake. I stepped one foot at a time, and froze the second I looked down through the holes in the metal to see miniscule looking cars flying underneath me.
"Come on Kaitlyn!" My sister Whit urged from the other side.
"No, you're frozen!"
"Fine! Fine!" I shouted across the gaping abyss and started moving my feet again. She waited for me, urging me across and finally, I stepped onto solid metal ground. I smiled, and we started racing after my father who seemed to already be halfway down the bridge. The walk back passed very quickly, and we soon reached the ladders which would bring us back down to solid ground.
"If a train comes, hug close to the rail and move down off the ladder as fast a possible," the guide shouted to us over the wind. I traversed the rungs quickly, sliding down the first ladder very smoothly.
On the second ladder, I felt a rumbling through my entire body and heard the guide shout before something came out of no where and sped by me.
"A train!" I shouted, "It's a train!"
"Get off the ladder, idiot!" My sister yelled, but I couldn't move. I leaned back off the ladder, shaking with the force of the train moving the entire bridge, and held on for dear life. When it passed, and my body stopped behaving like jelly, I started laughing. I wasn't sure if I laughed from hysterics or excitement, but the sounds kept popping from my mouth.
"Are you okay?" The guide asked, and I smiled and said I'd never felt better.
The rest of the climb passed without any complications and soon I had been stripped of my gray jump suit, blue hat and clips. I jumped through the door onto the street, laughing with my family, and looked up at the bridge. From ground level, it still seemed impossibly high, and I couldn't believe I had really climbed it.