"Sometimes the fear won't go away, so you'll have to do it afraid."
This hit home. This really hit home for me. A member of Women on Adventures (WoA) posted it on Facebook the other day and I think I spent a solid 15 seconds just staring at it. I can't tell you how many times in the past year I've said, "I'd love to hike that, but I don't want to go alone." Well, it's not that I didn't want to go alone—I was afraid to.
My desire to experience new places is hindered by my fear of doing it alone. Sure, I could invite a friend (if I could find someone I'm willing to spend more than two consecutive days with). But there are some places I want to experience by myself. Some places are just better appreciated in solitude.
The quote above got me thinking about what I'm really threatened by. What's really stopping me from pursuing my wanderlust. I came up with three reasons I'm afraid to hike or backpack somewhere new by myself:
- I could be attacked. By man or by beast. As a single female with little self defense or wilderness training, traveling alone is a is a significant worry for this reason.
- I could get stranded. I never saw 127 Hours but I heard enough of the gory details to be forever scarred by getting injured and thus stranded in a seclude place.
- I could forget something vital. What if I run out of food? What if I forget water sanitation? Then I'm that girl who died because she didn't pack enough KIND bars for the trail.
Once I had these fears staring me in the face, I began to think about the likelihood of one of these catastrophes actually happening. Considering the destinations I dream of traveling to are extremely popular—I would say rather slim. These places are so well-traveled it's unlikely I'd be harmed by anybody or any ferocious man-eating beast. As long as I stay on the trail, any injuries I sustain would be seen by fellow hikers who would (hopefully) give me a hand. And none of the destinations are so secluded as to not have some kind of nearby convenience store offering food. Plus, I'd let a loved one know when and where I'd be traveling.
Turns out, I don't have much to fear.
Once I looked my fears in the face, I realized how trivial they are; how little I actually had to fear.
So, I'm presenting myself with a challenge.
Ever since hiking the Grand Canyon last June, I've had a profound desire to see what kind of beauty the rest of our National Parks have to offer. Following them on Insta just isn't cutting for me. I need to feel the landscape for myself. I need to see mountains tower above me before I climb to their peaks.
Which brings me to my challenge: I'm going to visit one National Park a year. I may make it to more but I'm challenging myself to spend a weekend at at least one park a year.
I'll forget some things, anxiously overpack on others, and probably look like an ignorant fool at one point or another. But ultimately, it will be a learning process. I'll get to see the hidden beauties of this country and discover a thing or two about myself.
And hopefully meet some kickass people along the way.