Getting back into a routine after a difficult and scary experience is always hard. Sometimes it is easier just to take a break and re-group. And if you’re like me…. sometimes it is easier to just quit.
If you have read anything I have written this week, you know I had a scary experience on my hike this past weekend. Even though I am a pretty experienced hiker, I learned first hand this past Saturday I didn’t know all I needed to know.
See, I am one of “those” people who always thinks disaster is going to happen to someone else.. not them. I get comfortable and cocky in my knowledge and own abilities. I’m not stupid…so nothing bad can happen.
But something bad did happen. And I WASN’T prepared. And I got scared.
Hiking into the wilderness without proper items in your pack is both foolish and dangerous. I have seen it play out 100 times right here in the Smokies alone. Folks go out for what they think will be a short, enjoyable hike, and they get stuck…..in the rain, in the snow….in the heat… or in the dark. Not having the essentials with you could cause you serious injury or even your life.
So the perfect storm brewed on Saturday. The weather, my hiking partners injury, and my stupidity all combined to form what could have been my demise. However, my hiking companions were much wiser then I and were prepared for such. While I was the strongest hiker in our group that day, I was far from the wisest.
Being stuck on top of a mountain, in 30mph winds, 39 degree temps, with mist and fog, in the dark tends to leave an impression on you. I came off the trail seemingly ok, but as the days have progressed and the time is nearing for another hike…
I am nervous.
What if something goes wrong again? What if I am stuck out in the dark again? What if I am the one that gets hurt this time? What if the next time I see the wild hogs they DON’T go away?
While all of this is playing in my head, I know it is fear talking, but it is talking loud. And I am listening.
The old me, would tuck tail and stay home. But this new me… she knows that the only way she’s going to get past the fears is to carry on getting back out there.
So that’s what I am going to do. As scary as it seems, and as nervous as I feel, I know the only way to get over it, is lace up my boots, strap on my pack, and step onto the trail.
I also know there are a few things before I get out there again.
It is essential, I correct my mistakes from last weekend. Headlamps will ALWAYS be carried, as well as an emergency blanket. I know now, these mountains are unpredictable and elements can change in the blink of an eye.
I have also brushed up on my first aid and survival skills. While I thought I was well versed in those areas, I was not. I must be able to help not just my companions, but myself if needed.
Realizing the greatness and vastness of these mountains is another lesson I needed to learn. I have loved them my whole life, but now, I respect them. Not only is their beauty powerful and rich, but so is the darkness that engulfs it when the sun goes down. They demand all of you when you enter their glorious hallways. Don’t ever take them for granted or take their beauty for weakness.
I also need to stop relying on myself. Left to my own devices, I am going to fail each and EVERY time. I get so comfortable, so cocky, that I forget about the One who created all that surrounds me. Asking Him for guidance and safety is often neglected. I know what I’m doing? He should be worried about the hiker hiking up without the proper shoes and pack. NOT a pro like me.
After about 3 months and 180 miles, I have gained so much, but I still have much to learn. I must enter not with cockiness, but a with wonder and a respectful fear. The events that happened Saturday were not normal or routine, and while scary, I came off the mountain in tact and a with a little wiser then I was when I started. I also MUST seek out God before I begin. My skill and knowledge are NOT what gets me on off that mountain..it is HIS perfect grace that guides me.
So this weekend, I will take myself to a trailhead, and I will begin the process of overcoming. I will reach up, tug my pack straps till they are just right. Adjust my sticks to the right size, and take the first step….