The first time I soloed a long trail, it almost broke me. Being naked and shivering inside my sleeping bag with nothing to shield me except a tiny backpacker’s tent quickly twisted my thoughts into a thousand worst case scenarios, my mother’s voice echoing loudly about hypothermia, snakes, and career-minded decision making. It was 42 degrees outside, and I could hear the percussion of rain lapping against my tent as I trembled in my down sack. Below my precarious perch on Saddle Peak’s mud-covered switchbacks, the constant whoosh of traffic pulled at me like a trail of breadcrumbs. Civilization was just a mile away, if only I would give up.
“Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.”
Today, I really hit a wall, kids. Mt. Baden Powell threatened to flick me off of its wet, hairy backside, and I relented. It’s rare that I have to turn back after planning an adventure or setting an intention. I’m big on research, train appropriately, and my fearless tenacity is one of the things I pride myself on most. But today, I had to turn back in a big way, and I learned a lot about myself in the process.