I was alone for the first time in the woods. I went onto the trail without a sign from anyone around, but on the way back, I saw a pile of fresh bear scat in the middle of the trail. I first heard noises behind the trees off to the distance and then saw the bushes move. “Of course I would get mauled by a bear the very first time I decided to hike by myself,” or so I thought, and so I picked up my hiking pace three-fold and made it out of the heavily-bear-populated mountains with a story. That was a little over a year ago.
I took advantage of the time I have now during the summer of the ongoing global pandemic to hike again on my own. However, this time I would go beyond two miles of a trail full of bears and hike eight miles up to the top of a mountain. I didn’t think about it outside of preparing for the hike itself with appropriate gear, water, and food. I didn’t want to change my mind, so I just got up before dawn and drove to the other side of the mountain range near town.
About halfway up the mountain, I looked around to find absolutely no one and sipped some water from my camel pack. I took a short break and wiped the sweat from brow and tried to shake out my matted hat hair before stepping forward and nearly tripping and falling off of the non-railed path spiraling around the fourth or fifth tallest peak in Southern California.
I had no moment to react aside from catching myself. I looked over at the edge of the mountain at some of the fallen trees that had slid down the mountain’s face, and then further below at the tiny road at the mountain’s base—memories of my hike alone the year before flashed into my mind. Anything could happen at any time but, just like before, I played it safe but didn’t let anything stop me from doing what I wanted to do.
On both of those hikes spanning a year apart, I was reminded that I never let anyone tell me what to do (within reason) and that I should continue with the mindset that I always had. If you want to do something, then just do it. You can still plan ahead, but ultimately, you just have to start doing it.
I was already halfway up the mountain when I briefly thought about turning back in my head that made no sense. I was already here on the mountain. I quickly and confidently checked my bag for my throwing knives and figured that I would be alright. I was already in the middle of doing something that I wanted to do, and I was going to finish it anyway.
Oftentimes, the hardest part is just starting something. However, when you take that limiting fear away and just go for it, you’ll find that you will accomplish so much more than if you were constantly hesitant about everything. My motto has always secretly been, “well, you’re already doing it anyway. You might as well continue and finish.”
The mental roadblocks during the half marathons I occasionally do, and all the peak hikes erase away entirely with this mindset of just moving forward with something. If nothing is mentally stopping you from achieving goals, then you can find yourself accomplishing anything as long as you also put in the effort.
Hiking Through History: Mount Baden-Powell
I woke up early one Tuesday morning and decided that I wanted to climb to the top of a mountain. I chose Mount Baden-Powell, a peak in the San Gabriel Mountains of California. Here’s what I learned about it.
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