Solo Hiking

 

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I have claimed this year to be one that I will push myself to do things that are out of my comfort zone.  I started a list of things that I always have hoped to do, dreamed about, and even things that scare me.  My goal is to just start doing them as opposed to the “Oh, some day excuse” . I’ll reference back to a quote that I used on this blog from the book Daring Greatly.  It states, “When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time”.  This past week I was able to accomplish one of my goals  and here is where it begins…

My husband and I enjoy hiking together.  He is much more of a skilled hiker who challenges himself and goes all 4 seasons, overnight backpacking, enjoys tougher terrain, and the more challenging hiking trails.  I hike, but I am nowhere near as experienced as he is.  When we go together it is usually one of the easier trails and “moderate” level mountains and he encourages me along the way.   I have had the “itch” to go hiking since last summer.  As the John Muir quote states, “The Mountains are Calling and I must go!” has been filling my brain.  The feeling of such accomplishment once you have arrived at the top of a mountain is nothing that can be described until someone has actually experienced it for themselves.  Unfortunately, my hiking partner injured his Achilles and has been rehabbing it all winter so we haven’t had the opportunity to go together.

One day I started thinking…”well, why don’t I just do something solo?”.  Then my rational/scared/safety personality kicked in saying “you can’t do that, it would be so UNSAFE…what about the wild animals, crazy ax murderers, or even if you sprained your ankle?…you would be ALL ALONE!!!”  So it was a battle of the mind for a little while.  Finally, I decided I would do a small mountain that I have hiked many times and I would take all possible safety measures.  I have to admit, the night before I was going to do this…. I didn’t sleep very well because I kept thinking about what could potentially happen.  Once I started the car ride, my stress dissipated.  I turned my radio up, listened to some of my favorite music, and just enjoyed the beautiful day for what it was.  I arrived at the trail and saw several other cars parked in the lot, which relieved some of my stress (as long as they weren’t ax murderers) , placed my knife and whistle in my pocket, called my husband and let him know I had arrived and started on the journey.

As I hiked, it was nice to just be alone. Time to reflect and embrace what all of my senses were observing around me.  Besides the sound of my boots crunching the rocks on the trail, it was birds singing their songs, the breeze flowing through the air, stream waters trickling, the sun shining on my face, and fresh mountain air filling my lungs.  A sort of magic that can only be experienced alone in the woods.  Once I finally arrived to the top, it was breathtakingly beautiful.  The sky was cloudless and you could see for miles in the distance.  I asked one of the other 2 strangers to take my picture, ate my lunch, and read from my Bible.  I took my time and just embraced sitting on top of a mountain, that I just climbed, all on my own….by myself!

Once I finished the downward climb and got to the end, it felt liberating to accomplish something that always scared me.  To hike alone.  To do something without the help of someone else, even if there were some dangers involved.  I felt confident and proud.  But to be completely vulnerable and honest, it also made me tear up.  I turned and looked back at that mountain and felt that I had left a piece of me there.  The part of myself that doubted if she could do it, that always considered safety first, that never steps outside of her comfort zone.  I said goodbye to part of my old self that day, on that mountain, and gained bravery.  I learned that stepping outside my comfort zone  will grow me more than I could ever imagine.  Dare to do things that scare you.  As the famous quote says, “Great things never come from Comfort Zones!”  I would encourage you all to think about things that have held you back or made you scared and consider why.  Then also consider what it would feel like if you could actually move past those feelings and conquer that fear!

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