Sunday, June 1, 2014

Of Fear and Failure

Total training miles today: 15.6

When planning to walk the Pacific Crest Trail, many decisions need to be made.
What do I need? What do I want? What can I do without?

Many of the choices made are the result of my fears.

Am I afraid of losing the trail? Yes I am.
So I bring maps, I download apps for my phone which work with GPS to locate me on the trail.
I read detailed handbooks describing the twists and turns of the path. I take a compass to tell me which direction I am headed, and hopefully can orient my map to understand my location. I use Google Earth to look a the landscape from above. I try to memorize the lay of the land. These things help me meet my fears head on. But it is still there, lurking in my mind, whispering in my dreams.

Am I afraid of being alone in the wilderness at night? Yes I am.
So I read about others who have made this journey. The fear is only because of the unknown. I will come to realize that those "demons in the dark" are just the deer seeking food or salt; that the bear in the wild is just as frightened of me, and I can keep my food away by following a few simple rules; that the cougar is a solitary creature that has much easier prey to consider. The spiders and snakes and bugs are kept away at night by the screen of my tent. I bring along a tent with good netting. And, as I become accustomed to the sounds of the night, perhaps I will camp without it.

Am I afraid of the elements, of wind, rain, snow, and desert sun? Yes I am.
I understand the power of storms. I understand that I am accustomed to regulated temperatures and dry quarters. One of the challenges of living outdoors is to experience living in the wild and successfully becoming a part of it. There will be days of extreme heat. So I plan to bring an umbrella, carry more water, pay attention to my body and stop when it's too hot to continue. Perhaps I will hike at night, using a headlamp to find my way, or maybe find the light of the moon will reveal the path. I have practiced carrying large quantities of water. It is heavy. Did I say HEAVY? Yes, but I know I can do it. Rain and snow also make the trek difficult. So I bring effective rain gear to keep me warm & dray;  I use my umbrella and have a tent that is made from lightweight Cuban fiber.

Most of all, I am afraid of failure. Failure to achieve my goals and my dreams; failure to meet the challenge of the journey. So many things can go wrong, and, according to others, they WILL go wrong. But, others also give me hope. They say the trail provides. That often, in the seemingly most dire circumstances, answers come, help arrives, and the trail community provides.

I have to trust in this.
It is all that I can do.

Today, Patti and I walked a new trail. Not new in the sense that we had never walked it, but new in the sense that we had not gone that way for a long time. And Patti seemed to be very quiet today. At least that is what I perceived to be true. Or, maybe, as Patti said, "Gee, you are sure walking fast today!" Maybe it was me. I have a lot to consider. Next week Patti will not be walking. I trust that Debbie will join me, but it might be her weekend to work. The "unknown" starts whispering to my thoughts.

We crossed a small pool and the dogs enjoyed a drink. I'm not sure what was in the water, but Bridget lost her cookies and we both said, "eeeeewwww!" as she gobbled up something from the mess.
Bud and Bridget in the pool of water.
We hit the main trail and then headed to the ladder bridge over Ravensdale creek.
Bud lagged behind (or I walked too fast), and Patti kept pace with him.
Patti and Bud as we head towards the ladder bridge.
 Patti tossed a stick for Bridget as Bud swam across and drank his fill.
The ladder bridge crossing Ravensdale creek.
As we walked back, Patti commented that we might not be walking together as much this month. Often, Debbie goes camping on weekends. And Patti has company coming one weekend this month, and also won't be walking next weekend. I can only trust everything will work out.

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