Albert Einstein once wrote, “There comes a point in your life when you need to stop reading other people’s books and write your own.”
We love seeking advice from folks. Especially if they have tackled something we haven’t yet.
“How was the new restaurant in town?”
“Is that new Tom Cruise movie worth seeing”
“What are your thoughts on the new Oreo flavor?”
We listen. We read. And we Ruminate over the responses we receive. Then ultimately, we base our own opinions off the opinions of others. We fail to experience for ourselves what is truly out there.
Making assumptions based on others thoughts and opinions is something I do with EVERYTHING…..especially in my passion of hiking. I belong to a Facebook Group of hiking enthusiast of the Great Smoky Mountains. If I ever need info on anything hiking related, I turn to my Hike the Smokies group.
“What kind of gear do I need for this trail?”
“What is the best route up to Mt. LeConte?”
“What kind of shoes work best on these rocks?”
Within moments I am bombarded with “expert” responses to everything I need to know.
Sometimes, however, I let the thoughts and opinions of others determine how I think without actually any experience myself. Thus is the case with the Beard Cane Trail.
Beard Cane is thought to be one of the nastiest, most undesirable trails in the Smoky Mountains. In April of 2007 an F4 tornado ripped through the upper section of the trail, causing some pretty catastrophic damage. The trail was closed for several months as the park service worked to make it safe for hikers to explore once again. Since the trail was never a popular traveled trail originally, not much care to it’s up keep is done. Thus the trail is somewhat overgrown, swampy in places, and a haven for undesirable creatures like snakes, ticks, and other creepy crawlies.
If you mention the words Beard Cane to anyone familiar with hiking in the Smokies, you would probably get this response.
I did not ever want to meet Beard Cane.
Even on the trail sign before you start someone has etched in a warning…….
But if in my quest to become a 900 miler (an elite club of folks who hike every inch of trail miles in the Smokies) I knew I was going to have to eventually take the plunge and just do it.
And last weekend that is exactly what I did. If I didn’t get it done in the next couple of weeks, there would be no point in attempting it again until late Fall or next Winter. The park service does not maintain it, so the briers, snakes, and other creepy crawlies move in and take over during the warmer months.
It was now or never.
Of course I didn’t want to tackle this trail alone. Despite the fact, others had me in a panic over it, it also required two vehicles. You have to hike in 5 miles on another trail just to begin, so planning was important. Thankfully, my friend Laura needed the trail also on her quest for 900, so we decided to journey it together.
The morning got off to a rocky start. Another friend who was part of the car drop had to cancel, we got lost on the way to the spot were we were leaving my car, and it was freaking COLD!
Off we went, full of anticipation of the mayhem that awaited us when we got to Beard Cane.
We amazed ourselves by actually flying for the first 5.6 miles. When we got the the intersection with Beard Cane, we couldn’t believe we were here in such a short amount of time. We decided we probably should eat and prepare ourselves for the next 5 miles of gloom and doom we had been told awaited us. To mentally prepare myself, I felt maybe wearing my special Wonder Woman buff would help.
Off we went…..into what we thought would be the ugliest, nastiest hike we had ever embarked on.
Or so we thought.
It didn’t take long for Laura to start thinking maybe we were on the wrong trail. Everywhere we looked we saw nothing but enjoyable trail and beauty. There were several creek crossings, but they were fun, and the beauty and peace we experienced were NOT what we expected.
Where was the ugly? Where was the chaos and grossness?
As we trudged on, we became more and more convinced we were on the WRONG trail. Even when the creek eventually became the trail, it was just absolutly GORGEOUS!
It wasn’t until we came upon the part that had been damaged by the tornado did we fully realize we were on the correct path. Even then though, the it was a sad, and quiet beauty we saw.
Once we made it to the junction where the trail officially ended, we looked at each other and said, “Was that it?”
Both of us had fully relied on the few experiences we had heard about. We had feared something that, while not all that easy, was NO where near the monster we thought it would be.
Don’t we do that with life? So often we will make assumptions and beliefs off of others experiences. While having the knowledge of someone who has walked before is important, it is NOT something we should make our own judgement about until we have walked the same path.
Fear of the unknown is real. It can be paralyzing, and painful. We chose to live life through others experiences rather than our own. It seems safer that way. But in doing so, we miss out on writing our own story.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only one page.” ∼St Augustine
Make sure you are not just reading the same page over and over. There is a whole big world out there for you to explore, get lost in, and find adventure. Sometimes, you may experience a few rough and nasty pages, like Beard Cane, but you also may find the beautiful side of it too. You are never going to know unless you experience it.
For months I put off doing one of the most beautiful and adventurous hikes I have ever done, because I only read the page others had written. Everything I believed was based on their words. By going out and experiencing it myself, I have now written my very own page.
Don’t let life pass you by as you sit reading someone else’s story. Go out and write your own book.