The Fear is Real…

I’m realizing I get scared easily on this thru-hike.

Is it because I am alone?

Is it because the trail is difficult?

Is it the unknown that awaits me in the section(s) ahead?

When I take a zero day (especially) and I find there is more time to plan the next stretch, I can’t help but notice that my body physically starts to display my nerves.

My heart starts racing; I mindlessly eat; my eye sockets pound. I quite literally feel my nerves shutter throughout my body.

It’s actually pretty interesting. It’s not like I haven’t felt this before.  Many things in life have made me apprehensive, yet this feels different.

My fear doesn’t just come from my mind, even though that is, for sure, racing.  Nowadays, I look at the Guthook map; I notice the elevation changes; I survey my water sources. The fear comes from as much the physical undertaking, as it does the mental.  It’s also survival, too.

That’s the thing about a thru-hike: if you let it, it will fundamentally challenge and change you – all the way into your core.

I hope those reading here now get the chance to experience something like this.  I feel weirdly human.  My relationship to people, to the outside world, to the natural world—my fear lets me know something big is coming.  It lets me know I care.

For the dozens of times that I’ve felt this fear in the past four months (the past two months, especially), what really gets me is that I do it!  The work gets done!  I make it to the next town. I survive and thrive! I may get scared, but there is not a doubt in my body/head that says I won’t succeed.

Is that intuition? Is it spiritual? Is it both?

I ask, but I already know the answer. Better yet, I feel it. Maybe it’s different for each of us?

As I approach the final 300 miles of my SOBO thru-hike, I’m recognizing the fear more immediately.  I can put words to describe it.  And while it never does debilitate me, I acknowledge that it could and can.

I won’t let it this far into the game.  I’m in the home stretch, quite literally… Campo/San Diego is home.

It’s just so interesting to me that I’ve had these feelings dozens of times. And, every time, I come out the other side.✨

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.” C.JOYBELL C.

”Being brave isn’t the absence of fear. Being brave is having that fear but finding a way through it.” BEAR-GRYLLS

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Comments 6

  • Brad Phoenix : Nov 23rd

    I was going to say work through your fears, it will be worth it and you will be stronger because of it. But you already know that. Keep going.

    • Janine Abdallah : Nov 24th

      Thank you, Brad! I love and appreciate hearing things over again. It helps things to really stick, so seriously thank you for sharing along!

  • Sasquatch : Nov 24th

    I find I get scared driving more than hiking. I get a little creeped out night hiking alone. Really, what I fear most when hiking, are trees.

    • Janine Abdallah : Dec 1st

      Very interesting. Thank you for sharing that! Why driving, out of curiosity? For me, trees can intimidate me at night. Thanks for reading along!

  • JBinSB : Nov 29th

    Fear is normal. I’ve never done a big hike like that, but I’ve spent a lot of time in the Sierra back country with others and on my own, so I know those feelings. Every decision is weightier without a jury to help you decide. All of the responsibility for every choice is on you. But that’s probably one reason you’re doing this. You want the feeling that comes from going through it. Something good to remember: all of it, every ounce of nervousness and fear comes from the mind. The mountains, the topography, the heat, the animals — they are all just there. Only when they enter your mind (at least for now) do they create (understandable) responses/reactions. When you encounter a rattlesnake on trail, then, yes, the thing itself will be there and real. I am not Mr. Macho and don’t want to be, but I have seen many rattlesnakes and never had a problem. Just take the usual precautions: if you see one, give it a wide berth. If one rattles, stop and figure out where it’s coming from, then slowly move away. Enjoy.

    • Janine : Dec 1st

      So well said, and you’re exactly right about the weight of decisions when alone! As to the mind, you’re right again. The mind is powerful, and the biggest struggle is me trying to recognize and control that from wandering.


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