I’ll admit it, I have a few horribly embarrassing fears when it comes to being outdoors (and not just limited to the great wide open either). Truth time: I have a huge fear that while checking my IG and FB while *ahem* ‘resting’ in the rest room, that my phone will become possessed and take a picture of my ‘business’ and blast it across the world wide web in some hail mary from the internet devil.
There it is. I know this won’t happen.
But I came to this whole ‘irrational fears’ topic while on my first solo hike a few weeks ago. My product testing group for Industrial Revolution (the wonderful company that has brought you UCO, Light My Fire, Esbit, and Morakniv, amongst others) was getting together for an overnight in Goldbar to test some product, climb some rocks and have an outdoor respite in the middle of the week. I was getting a later start than the others, so I was going to have to find the way to the campsite on my own. I knew the trail was supposed to be relatively easy, as most of it followed an old road, but still, there were a fair amount of instructions on where to go. I actually got two sets of instructions, just to make sure I set out on the right path.
It took me about 10 minutes to change and pack at the trailhead before I headed out. Not 5 minutes into the hike, I was already doubting myself. *was that the right way? was I supposed to cross over the creek or around it?* I kept going after I hit the first fork, knowing I was most likely on the right trail. After the second fork, I doubted myself again, back tracked, went up the other direction only to find a giant boulder problem. It was pretty cool to stumble upon this GIANT rock that had been completely obscured and in the middle of this large patch of bushes, but when I found a fully formed spiders web blocking the trail, I knew it was wrong and that no one had been there. So I backtracked again and went back up my original trail I had ended up on in the first place. The one thing I saw that made me know I was on the right track was the distinct waffle footprint of a Vans shoe. And the only person I knew of in the group that would most definitely be hiking in those waffle-soled wonders was my friend Treu. So that was an immediate confidence booster right there.
Tracking badge successfully earned.
Eventually after hiking another 5 minutes or so, I started humming. Mostly out of nervousness. It was entirely too quiet and I kept getting nervous I was hearing something stalking me in the bushes. (mind you, this is a heavily used trail and the odds of something coming around were quite slim, and I knew this. But I ignored myself and instead, pulled the mace out of the top of my bag and put it into my hip belt.)
Hmmmm…Mace in the hip belt? Yes…yes this needs to happen.
I, once again, came to a fork in the road and stood there for a minute, weighing whether I went left, right, or straight. The instructions said if I went straight, and kept going up, then do so. If I went straight and there was no ‘straight’, then go left and you should hit the old road again. So I went straight….and there was no straight… *sweet, Ange, that means you go LEFT girl, you totally got this.* So I hit the road, and life was sweet. I passed a dude running down the trail and he confirmed that everyone was at the top of the road. So I trudged along with the sun setting down into the golden hour. It was peaceful, I’ll admit that. And the more I hiked, the more comfortable it got. I made it a goal to just relax and be mindful of my steps and enjoy the time I had to myself.
Eventually, after THE longest trail-road ever, I found everyone and all was well. But my first little solo hiking experience got me thinking about all of the other things that I am legitly freaked out by in the outdoors. And that it doesn’t matter how long I’ve been camping and hiking, these things still set me on edge. So in the interest of transparency, here goes:
yes, this may be a surprise, because I do it A LOT, and I do love it, but I also HATE it. I am fearful of mountain lions, bears and goats trampling/eating/ripping me apart in the middle of the night. I am also fearful of Aliens and unexplained phenomena and/or undiscovered creatures. Anything can happen at night….ANYTHING. So I make sure to have a night cap or 5 before I got to bed.
Have you ever seen a light in the woods, off in the distance and not know what it was? YEAH. SCARY AS CRAP. During the Goldbar trip, we actually saw a red light that was unmoving in the woods. It seemed super unnerving until I took a minute and realized, it was probably just a Game camera the logging companies or DNR had set up. Logic won over fear on that one. But if they ever start moving erratically and flying in the air, run. You don’t know what that shit is and you shouldn’t stick around to find out. Just one girls opinion.
I’m much better about this, but yes, bees or anything that buzzes will sometimes make me run and flail like a yeti on fire.
Running out of food.
If you know me, you will laugh at this because this fear will NEVER HAPPEN. I pack SO much food because of this fear that I suffer in carrying the burden of my extra weight. *But what if I get stuck out here? What if a bridge washes out? What if I get lost and no one finds me? Then I better pack an entire Thanksgiving meal and times that by 3…just in case.*
You should be afraid of the dark, because this guy is lurking there.
So I’m curious, what is everyone else afraid of? I find myself to be my own worst enemy. As my aunt has said to me before, “You’re such a turkey” which was her doting way of saying “stop being so silly, you’re fine.” So I try and suck it up, challenge myself and keep moving. Whatever your fears are, no matter how silly they seem, just remember the words of the great Ron Swanson: “Turkey can never beat cow.” So now I tell myself…*Don’t be a turkey, channel that inner big, beautiful bovine and charge head on without looking back.*