bConfidant: A Hiker’s Inspiration

July 2, 2018

Despite a rainy start, this weekend turned out to be a beautiful, sunburnt adventure! Despite a rainy start,

With the first glimpses of sunlight we’d seen in the valley for weeks, some friends and I finally planned our first hike of the season together. I really wanted to share with them one of my all-time favorite hikes, so we headed back up into historic Hatcher Pass.

Something to know about me, I’m basically the human equivalent of a dog when hiking. I want to climb everything, I love exploring every little cave and crevice, and any water feature gets me over the top. Going along a river with a waterfall climb and a boulder field to traverse, this trail is tailor made for me. I couldn’t wait for us to all get out on the trail and start exploring together on this fun, easy-going adventure.

But it was not an easy-going day.

What I failed to realize was that just because I’ve been hiking this trail for years, multiple times by myself, and love maneuvering all its features, didn’t necessarily mean others would! Unusually amounts of snow for this time in the season covered sections of the boulder field, and melting run-off caused higher water levels, further limiting where we could scramble over these massive rocks to head up river. I won’t lie, it was rough. While I was climbing rocks and bounding over water having a blast, my friends were struggling to carefully pick their way across the obstacles. I did my best to guide them through the rocky minefield and cheer them on, but there were definitely some rough patches along the way. And though they may not want to here it [love you Speedy and Jessmenrah!] if I’m being honest, there were times I wanted scream, “Jump! You’ll make, I promise! I’ll catch you!”

I wasn’t frustrated that we were moving slower than expected. I didn’t mind showing them where to step or pulling them across risky areas. Neither of them are incapable in any way, and I love helping others get out of their comfort zones and explore. What surprised me was they weren’t trusting themselves. They couldn’t see what I could in them: that if they just got out of their heads and charged forward, they were capable of conquering any boulder on that trail.

This idea really struck me, especially in the world of health and fitness. Many of us get so comfortable in our own little bubble that we never try to break it. We’re apprehensive of failure, so we stand there on that narrow rock, afraid to take the next step, and that hesitation kills our potential. It keeps us from performing at our best and showing the world, and more importantly, ourselves, just what we’re made of and what we can do.

Working towards our goals, whether they be health related or not, are much like crossing a boulder field. There’s uncertainty, insecurities, doubts, and fears, all lined up to watch us fail. But we can’t listen to them, because while they’re not easily defeated, they are far from invincible. We keep our eyes on our objective and keep moving forward. There is no one right way across an expanse of fallen and crumbled boulders, only a distant destination you’re always working towards. Making progress towards our goals is no different, there are multiple ways we can accomplish them, but only one true form of failure: giving up. So all we have to do is keep them in sight, lift our feet, and keep moving forward.

With each step comes the decision to take another. Pausing only welcomes in doubt and uncertainty, ready to destroy our momentum. So we never stop, we accept that we are far more capable than we ever knew, and take the leap.

I was never naturally good at traversing risky trails. It was only when I started hiking alone more often that I started discovering what I was capable of. Suddenly, out there by myself, there wasn’t a choice. I had to climb that rocky expanse, I had to cross that river, I had to get myself down out of that valley, because there was no one else there to do it for me. With those experiences, I became much more confident in my abilities and willing to push myself further.

I witnessed the same shift in my friends on our hike back out of the valley. During our second crossing of the boulder field, I could see they were acting with more confidence now. They were venturing out to find their own path rather than following in someone’s footsteps, they were trusting themselves to know what to do, and trusting their bodies to follow suit. By the time we made it out of the valley, both said they felt stronger and more confident, and were glad they did it!

When the time comes and a thousand different voices are trying to tell you: you’re not ready for it, listen instead to that lone voice of dissent, the one that says you are ready, you are prepared. Ignore the nay sayers, shut out that shadow of doubt and hesitation, and take that leap. Believe that voice that says you can run a little faster, and you can push a little harder, and for you, the laws of physics are merely a suggestion!

Whether your goal right now is to run two miles without walking, or compete in a triathlon, or getting that new job, never forget that you are much stronger than you think. You are much more capable than you think. All you have to do is believe in yourself and you’re halfway there. Believe in yourself, and take that first step off the boulder. Be confident, be strong, and tackle your obstacles!

From Alaska, With Love

Cat J.

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