I remember only having a leather backpack, some Nikes, and a hoodie on the very first day I went hiking.
(Truth be told, I wish there was an FML back then to gear me up right!
It was a day that I’d thought to myself: enough being scared of doing things like this. I’d only ever been camping once in my life and it was a quick excursion with my cousin to Ruidoso with a group of friends…the one real time I saw the Universe in the pitch dark of a forested night. That got me thinking, if I could survive that little trip, I could survive anything! It was a wet, completely unprepared chaos that would test every atom of survival I didn’t know I possessed…but I made it through alive which then prepared me for this early afternoon trail set before me.
It was a well-established, well-manicured trail splitting the Organ Mountains in half through an East-West direction. The Baylor Canyon Pass, I’d heard, was a good starter trail that was lengthy but relatively easy to traverse. It was a good 4-miler that connected the westerly-facing slopes to Aguirre Springs Campground nestled in a nook on the East side. Of course, this meant that as an out-and-back trail the total mileage would be around 8+ miles.
I was new at this. It was summer and I had jeans on.
It only took about 400 yds when I realized I was too scared to do this.
I turned around and went back to my car, tail between my legs, heart sunk, hopes of posting some gnarly Insta photos dashed.
I kicked myself that entire weekend and the proceeding week at work. How could I not simply walk into the unknown abyss?
What could’ve possibly gone wrong?
I’m sure there are a lot of novice adventure-seekers who constantly bombard themselves with this and other critical questions when it comes to the great outdoors. They aren’t wrong in doing so, either. Truth be told, it’s important to ask yourself these questions before you undertake anything that would require the risk of life and limb, especially in the harsh environment that makes up our backyard. Any number of things can happen and always being prepared can delay an early demise.
To make a point, however, I allowed these questions to rain on my adventure parade and keep me from what certainly would’ve been an amazing payoff in the end.
Alas! I made it out the next weekend and stood at the same trail, leather backpack and jeans at the ready…mind you it was 110 degrees. This time, I made it out 500 yds before turning back.
The point of all this is to acknowledge your fear. Accept that things like this (to some) is a tremendously overwhelming task and it’s as daunting as free-climbing a skyscraper without a net. The outdoors can be an unfriendly, untameable beast but with time…it may just be the best part of life that could transform you and cause you to devote yourself to trying again and again until what you felt was impossible…is certainly doable, furthermore, accomplishable…even better: this could be something that you can be successful at time and time again.
It took me a month to finally gather the wits and conquer this trail, end-to-end.
6 years later and this is the best part of my life (2nd to my family).
Make a good decision with your life and tackle your fear…then tackle a trail!