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How do you deal with fear?

From my hiking journal last April.

I was dreading today's hike. The trail is narrow, icy and slippery with a huge drop-off on one side. I have had panic attacks on this trail. Today Karen and I used microspikes for traction.

The narrow, steep trail was extremely difficult with snow, deep post-holes, hard, gray ice and patches of slippery mud. Nothing was flat. The footing was so tricky, I had a number of "holy shit!" moments nearly slipping over the cliff.

"Breathe slowly," I told myself. "You have done this before. You can do it."

We stepped aside to let a charming young couple go ahead of us when the trail widened. Firefighters for the U.S. Forest Service, they were on back-country skis with skins. They planned to climb to the summit of Mission Peak and camp overnight in the snow. Ski down tomorrow.

"But we're standing in mud," the man protested mildly when I asked to take their photo.
Karen impulsively followed the couple as they climbed up a steep, snowy meadow to a ridge. "It's pretty post-holey!" the man called. An understatement.

Karen sank up to her armpits

Karen and I were sinking up to our thighs. "I don't think this is a good idea, Karen," I said. "We need snowshoes."

"Let's stay in the shade," she replied. With her next step, she instantly sank up to her armpits. I laughed. Because I'm lightweight, I don't break through the crust as much.

"That's it," Karen decided. "Let's go down to the trail." Even that wasn't easy. Steep.

I had fun after it warmed up. Ice and snow softened, making it easier to walk while descending. Lengthened my poles, swung them forward and walked downhill between the poles. This speeded me up and made it safer.

Proud of myself for persevering. I had a wonderful time. It helps to end on a positive note.

You won't find me where Karen is standing. She's braver than me. My heart pounds going around that corner. "Geez Louise!" as my late mother said.

LiterateHiker 9 Jan 15

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I am a very analytical person so I would be asking a series of questions.

  1. Is this fear a result of my evolutionary ancestors warning me? (snakes, spiders, bears, heights)
    a) if yes, then is it rational? If not, then this fear would be a good thing to overcome otherwise assess the necessary precautions.
    b) if no, then this fear would be a good thing to overcome.
  2. Do I really need to do this?
  3. Is there another way to do this?

Ultimately if it is necessary, or not rational, proceed with the necessary precautions. Otherwise, consider returning to my couch, drinking a beer while petting my dogs.

BTW, recreational skydiving, bungee jumping, or free climbing cliff faces .... not gonna happen!!


Reminds me of the scene in "Lawrence of Arabia" before they go across the desert on their way to Acaba. Would it not be better to just stay in Cairo, sitting at the bar and drinking lemonade.
If you fall and get hurt we will not hear about your trips, please do not hurt yourself, and Karen.


The best way to deal with mud and soft ground, is to lie down and swim your way across. You get very dirty, but there is much less danger of getting stuck.


I think I rather stay home with a good book and a cup of tea and just read about what you are up to.


You always tell an interesting story with your pictures.


Thank you, dear!

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