To Fear or Not to Fear, That is the Question

I stood there terrified doubting if I could even move forward. Tears streaming down my face, my breathing making that high whistling sound that you would expect from someone suffering from an extreme asthma attack, frozen between moving forward and giving up. All of this from a little thing called FEAR!

A couple of months ago my husband Steve and I headed out on our first real nature hike in Southern California. We were excited to get out and blaze the trails. We found a local wilderness park and started off by having a great conversation with Ranger Susan. Ranger Susan was full of knowledge about the park and helped us pick the perfect route for a long hike.

That’s where things kind of went sideways. You see, as we began to walk away from Ranger Susan, she called out, “Oh by the way be really careful at the top, there was a very large diamond back spotted up there this morning!”.  For those of you that don’t know, a diamond back is a rattlesnake and I am very afraid of rattlesnakes!

do-not-feed-the-fears-300x300I felt my pulse quicken as we set out hiking but quickly began rationalizing my chances of coming across said snake (besides the trail was almost as wide as a single lane road). Surely I would spot the snake with plenty of room to spare. Then a funny thing began to happen. That nice wide trail became smaller and smaller while my fear became greater and greater. Before I knew it I was closed in on both sides headed into heavy scrub brush with nothing but a tiny footpath to guide me. I came to a dead stop, paralyzed by the fear that had taken over.

At this point I felt like a complete and utter failure. How would I ever make it on the Appalachian Trail if I couldn’t even hack a local hike here in California? My husband was a little irritated and reminded me of this fact but he was patient and hung out waiting for me to make the call. Do I move forward or let fear win?

I think the universe gave me a little nudge because just at that precise moment a cute twenty something couple came bopping down the hill through the brush, Zen music and all emanating from their backpack. In the most pleading panicked voice I reached out to the woman and asked “Did you see any snakes”? They assured me they encountered no snakes at all while they made their way down the trail. I thanked them profusely, took a big breathe and made my decision. I took one small baby step forward, then another. Still unsure, still feeling a little panicked not knowing what lie before me.

The ultimate moment came when we finally reached the wide open fire road at the top!  As I moved forward I began to feel stronger. I began to feel like I could do this. I felt accomplished.

I know it probably seems like a silly thing, a panic attack over a snake, really Sherry?  I’m sure you can probably think of a time or two where something has stopped you in your tracks. Did you freeze in place, turn around and run in the other direction or take that one huge baby step forward?

I’m just an unlikely wanderer learning a little more each time I put myself out there. It’s not always pretty and it’s certainly not perfect but it is progress.

Happy wanderings my friends!

Confessions of a Slacker Daughter

I love technology and I love checking out all of the new little tchotchkes that come out each year that are supposed to make life easier. For instance the Tile featured on the SoCalHikers site. It’s supposed to allow me to track my bear canister (or any of my other belongings) should the local wildlife decide to play soccer with it while I’m quietly slumbering in my tent. I’m hoping that doesn’t actually happen and since we’re thru hiking the AT they’ve graciously provided us with bear cables. The bear thing kind of freaks me out!

I digress.

Since making the decision to thru hike the AT next spring, the topic of fitness has been all most a daily conversation between my Dad and I. My Dad lives three thousand miles away in NJ but we talk often. He usually starts off the phone conversation with “Did you walk today.”  Most days my response was “Sure”… even if I didn’t. I figured what’s a little white lie? I have a year before even starting this grand adventure, right?

Then my love of technology bit me in the ass! During a recent phone call, my Dad through me a curve ball and instead of the normal “Did you walk today?”, he asked me if I owned a Fitbit. I said I did and that I really liked it (to be perfectly honest since this post is titled “Confessions of a Slacker Daughter”, the truth was it had been sitting on my kitchen counter getting very little use).

My Dad proceeded to tell me that a friend at work recently showed him his Fitbit and did I know that we could set up goals so he and I could compete with one other. To his credit, my Dad has been working out faithfully since we made the decision to thru hike and did I mention he’s also VERY competitive. I knew it would be no time at all before he owned this great techno gadget.

My father retired recently and lo and behold what did my youngest brother’s family give him as a gift? You guessed it…the Fitbit! Don’t get me wrong, Fitbits are a great piece of technology and now I knew I would have an electronic trail of my daily activity with Dad as my monitor.

I’m not sure if it was guilt or my own competitive spirit but my lonely Fitbit HR found its way back onto my wrist and more importantly it actually has activity to log. As of this writing, my father, sister-in-law, husband and I are all actively tracking our daily fitness. East Coast versus West Coast baby!

Fitbit crazy


So yes, technology bit this unlikely wanderer in the ass, but in a good way! Our miles are adding up, hikes are becoming easier and our goal of thru hiking the AT doesn’t seem like just a dream anymore. It’s slowly becoming a reality one technologically tracked step at a time!