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Any of you reading this that know me knows that I sometimes like to take backpacking trips by myself into the back country. The number one question I get asked by people is, “Don’t you get scared out there?,” and the answer is yes. I mean I’m sure there are people doing the same thing as me that would say no, but I would like to believe that the vast majority of humans doing things others may consider “out of their comfort zone” do still feel scared about the potential dangers of such activity. I think the one thing we all have in common is the ability to control those fears and adapt to functioning outside the comfort zone.
The first time I decided I wanted to go on a multi day backpacking trip I was so excited. I grabbed all my gear (which at the time was all wrong but hey I was new to this!) Packed everything up, went over the maps to see where I would hike and calculate the mileage, made it to the trail head by first light the next morning, and once I finally arrived it’s like all my excitement instantly turned into nervousness and fear; and to make things even worse about 20m in there was a sign notifying hikers that a certain campsite was closed due to high bear activity. Regardless of my emotions or current state I knew turning around wasn’t an option so I set my eyes North for the next eight miles, and moved my feet one in front of the other. It was as if the innate nature of a human beings came alive inside of me and pressed on until nightfall and camp.
Once at camp I decided that I would rather sleep inside a three walled shelter, on the Appalachian Trail there are man made shelters at random mile markers throughout. I knew it would be raining all night long and that my tent would not be able to with stand it. It gets better though not only did I come equipped with an improper tent, but I also brought a sleeping bag to endure an average heat of 40 degrees. This was mid February people what was I thinking?! Needless to say I froze all night long, but that wasn’t the worst of the night. The worst of the night was when I was so overcome with fear that at any moment I could get attacked by a bear and if I did there would be nothing I could do to survive. I laid awake for hours and held my breath every time there was a sound in the woods. I looked at the sky and begged for morning to come and then morning came. I don’t remember the fear I was stricken with I don’t remember the cold I remember what I had done and seen to get there, and I starved for more.
As time went on I was no longer afraid of the same things I once was on my first trip. I began to understand them from a hands on perspective instead of a mental prediction of what it might be like; The dangers and the pleasures alike. Also I did my research and purchased all the right equipment this enabled me to be more efficient throughout the day in many ways, and being knowledgeable in whatever your doing provides an added layer of calm to whatever lies ahead. I was finally able to control that feeling of not being in control, and I was finally able to fully embrace all the beauty that surrounded me on journey.
So to answer your question yes, yes I get scared sometimes. The difference is I’ve learned that life is short and if you continue living yours in fear you’ll never know how far you can go. You will never know what you will see, who you will meet, and whats waiting for you on your next adventure.