Do you ever feel a sense of doom when you go out on a new adventure or hike in a new place?
I always celebrate nature but something I rarely bring up is that I get scared too.
I walked through the bush at 5:30am the other morning (which is enough to make some of us get a little nervous, isn’t it?) when no one else had been on the track. Anyone who loves hiking will know that this means SPIDERWEBS GALORE.
I cannot tell you how much time I spent fighting off the clingy spiderwebs and waving a stick in front of my face most of the time to keep them off, which in reality didn’t help much. I swear if anyone had seen me they would have thought I had lost the plot.
Don’t get me started on the leeches after the rain either! I fight those buggers off with twigs like it’s nobodies business and feel victorious when the little vampires don’t succeed in sucking my blood!
Think I’m done? I’m just getting started.
A few years ago, I went on a hike to Perry’s Lookdown at Blackheath in the Blue Mountains. I’d never been there before, and after some way down I started to notice it was all downhill. Down, down…. and down some more. No one in sight but me and my now hubby. So I dug my heels in and freaked. (I cannot tell you how annoying that must be for someone who just charges through the bush like a champion.)
Before I make myself seem like an anxious noddy – because, well, this is nothing in the scheme of hiking experience!! – I’ll tell you something. Once I had gotten over my freak out (not the only one of its kind, sadly) and walked down to the creek at the Blue Gum Forest, learnt to skip rocks over the water, admired the glowing Blue Gums, and made it up to the top, after again thinking it was a long steep way…
I learnt some important lessons.
1. LET GO
Maybe it’s obvious I’m not entirely a thrill seeker, but it’s important to let go: whether that be of fears or the sense of doom, maybe simply the need to CONTROL everything. We cannot control everything. If it is a hard hike, we can take a moment to rest. If there is a snake on the trail, kill that thing. No wait, don’t. Wait for it to pass. We can self-preserve to a degree (like not be naked in Antarctica), but for the most part we are OKAY. Observe what’s happening and find your calm.
2. BE GENTLE
Be gentle with yourself. If you are feeling off one day, you’re feeling off! It’s all a process of learning and growing… and sometimes that’s a little uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to stump you, but you can go at a pace that suits that feeling.
3. MAGIC ZONE
Speaking of uncomfortable… when we step out of that homely, warm comfort zone (the one with tea, blankets, baths, and food), we enter the magic zone. That’s where our paradigms, ways of seeing, perceptions, knowledge, fears, and more, are challenged… it’s where we start getting sassy with vulnerability and find our inner courage. It’s surreal. It’s a place of self surprise and often leads us to something better. No one likes throwing up during exercise, but we all know after consistent effort that it pays off. We don’t have to jump out of an aeroplane to get to the magic zone. Keep trying.
4. KEEP GOING
If all else fails, we just have to put one foot in front of the other up the hills that freak us… but we will get there. I have, you will. We live in a beautiful time for exploring the things we love and making ourselves into the bosses we know we are.
That 5:30am hike? Wouldn’t have happened years ago. Nor would solo hiking. Perry’s Lookdown? Now one of my favourite hikes in the world and it is not so hard. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t tried.
That, my friends, is all on that!
When have you felt fear bubble up on a bushwalk?
Pictured is the National Pass at Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains Australia on another climb.