Today, I went on my first hike alone. I will hike to the moon and back, and enjoy every minute of it, when I have company, but hiking by myself is a whole nuther thing entirely. I hiked the Beaver Creek Trail which is part of the Appalachian Trail, next to beautiful cascading water falls. It was truly beautiful. It was also an incredibly steep hike by any standards and the trail was marked by tree roots, rocks, and boulders (see pics below). The sun was shining, birds singing, and water flowing and I enjoyed the exercise of climbing up 1200 feet in 1.1 miles. So far, so good.
I knew going into this that the biggest thing I had to fear venturing out alone was my wild imagination. Unfortunately, it kicked in as I reached the top of the cascades. The sun went behind the clouds, the breeze turned chilly, the birds stopped singing and my legs were a lot more tired than I was willing to admit, having pushed myself climbing up the rocks. I looked up at an incredibly steep boulder climb ahead. It looked dark and ominous going on forever into the darkness.
I felt like a total failure turning around, especially since I knew I was probably close but I headed back down the mountain, my legs feeling like jelly. At this point in the hike I was feeling defeated and vulnerable and then I felt eyes on me. Imagined or not, the feeling didn’t go away the whole way down the mountain. And of course I started imagining mountain lions, bears, murders on the Appalachian Trail all of which I just read about in Into the Woods by Bill Bryson.
It was challenging going down. I wiped out several times slipping on the wet rocks and wet leaves from yesterday’s rainfall. By now my legs were shaking pretty bad. It would have been comical to see, I’m sure (like when you are in a yoga pose and your legs are shaking like crazy). The sun continued to hide behind the clouds the whole way back to the car and I didn’t stop to rest, shaky or not, still feeling eyes on me. It was quite pathetic, really.
In conclusion, I have decided that I have nothing to prove by hiking out in the wilderness out on my own. I’ll be looking for hiking groups from now on so I can enjoy the hike and rest my over-active imagination.