Finding Courage

How Briefly Getting Lost In The Wilderness Made Me Realize We Should Be More Like Ron Weasley

I heard rustling from the freely growing shrubbery that lined the dirt trail, and then I saw it crash from seemingly nowhere about 20 feet ahead of my trekking poles. The crash sounded like the moment a riding horse shifts from a trot to a full gallop. I could hear the sheer power of the hooves and the weight of the large animal as it slammed onto the narrow ledge of the rock face several thousand feet above the last human I saw. The doe quickly rolled from where it landed on its side and shot up before staring in my direction. I froze. The deer froze, and we made eye contact for what seemed like a full 20 seconds.

You could tell from the moment of exchange that we both had no idea what was going on and that we were both genuinely surprised at what had just happened. The unexpectedly bizarre incident on the Chapman trail had thrown me for a loop. While I was watching out for rattlesnakes in the Cucamonga Wilderness, a deer had fallen off of a mountain onto the trail right in front of me and then shot straight back up the mountain as if nothing occurred.

I paused for a moment and glanced up to see if I would need to dodge any more animals falling from the sky. I was already 13 miles into the 17-mile hike I had planned to do the day before my trek. Damn. I really am out here, I thought to myself. My leggings were caked in dust, and I could feel the sweaty hair under my hat that I wore to protect myself from the boiling summer sun. I thought about the moment my tracking app sporadically ceased to provide haptic feedback when I veered off-trail without my knowledge while I was snapping photos and how I was briefly lost deep in Icehouse Canyon.

Without thinking of my backup maps, my heart rate rose so drastically that I could feel the pounding in my ears. I paused, put down the camera, and looked up at the walls of monstrous rock, begging for clues as to where the trail had gone. It took me a few minutes, but I did a little scrambling and managed to cut a corner to get back onto the path above. Thoughts asking why the hell I was out there rushed to mind.

Somewhere in between getting lost and having a deer fall out of the sky in front of me, I tripped and nearly missed a giant nest-like web covering the entrance of what looked like a Hobbit hole. The thought of the size of that spider reminded of the scene in the second Harry Potter book when Ron Weasley faced his fear of spiders by walking into a giant spider’s home in the Forbidden Forest.

The notoriously scared character was always courageously going above and beyond to do the right thing. It didn’t matter if he was absolutely terrified of something. If his family or friends were in trouble, he was there. He never let anyone stop him from doing anything, and as I passed the potential horror movie scene on the trail, I thought about Ron Weasley’s courage and kept hiking.

There were a few moments when I thought about turning back, but that same drive in the back of mind pushed me forward. The gorgeous wooded land had nearly made me pee my pants a couple of times, but I found a little courage to keep going. Whether you want to or not, you end up learning about yourself, your abilities, limits, and about perseverance on the trail, because if you don’t keep going in some instances, it’s life or death.

I hate flying, but I get on airplanes. I actually don’t like heights, but I love hiking to the top of mountains to look at the scenery. Either I’m completely insane, or I may happen to be a little more courageous than I thought. Rather than try to be fearless, I aim to continue being courageous. It’s one thing to jump into things without having anything to lose, but it’s far more impressive to hear that someone was scared to do something and then just did it anyway.

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