Ten bucks says you don’t know what potamophia is. Don’t worry, I didn’t either. But a quick Google search proved correct my assumption that there is a name for every possible phobia. Potamophobia is mine.
I absolutely despise unbridged river crossings. It’s more than just hate, though. It’s disdain combined with crippling fear combined with complete lack of confidence, seasoned with a good sprinkle of incompetence. It’s a bad combo, and it comes back to haunt me time and time again.
When I first started hiking, I didn’t encounter a lot of unbridged river crossings so it never occurred to me that I might be fearful of them. As started to select less popular, longer or more remote trails, the number of unbridged river crossings multiplied. So, too, did my anxiety. I have been forced to turn around on a number of occasions, which is incredibly vexing after hiking for hours. I’ve even avoided trails altogether because of the need to ford a river.
Lest you be thinking, “Everyone should be afraid of crossing unbridged rivers. It can be terribly unsafe!”, I must own up to the fact that I’m not even talking about epically large rivers. Sadly, I am deterred even by a bold stream, or slightly aggressive creek. I don’t discriminate against water crossings. I hate them all equally. I am envious of people, like my father, who effortlessly leap from rock to rock without a care in the world. I am in awe of fearless hikers who trust their ability to leap across gaps that I would deem far too wide to safely cross.
My mind is full of the very real and potential dangers associated with water crossings. Because I am super clumsy and ungraceful, I fear tripping or slipping and spraining or breaking arms, ankles, wrists or legs. Because my balance is questionable at best, I can easily see myself leaping from rock to rock, losing balance, striking my head on a rock, knocking myself unconscious, and drowning in a tiny and shallow stream. Because I suffer from FOMO, I have a very real fear of dropping my phone and losing thousands of hiking pictures that, of course, I haven’t backed up to my computer. Because of Murphy’s Law, I fear that I would, of course, be the person who needs to be rescued from the world’s smallest river crossing by search and rescue only to be seen as an exemplar of the under-prepared for nature.
I am a walking worst-case scenario handbook when it comes to river crossings. Come hell or high water? I don’t think so. I say come hell or dry land.