I encountered a group from Maryland on last night’s hike. They were extremely friendly and thrilled to be hiking in the Hocking Hills.
For some, it was their first time on a hike. A few seemed to marvel that I was out there alone. This isn’t an uncommon reaction.
I hike alone a lot.
This is partly because there is nothing like the serenity of the woods and having people around is disruptive. It’s partly because I refuse to miss out on experiences simply because there is no one to go with.
This wasn’t always the case. I didn’t pick up solo hiking until last winter. My relationship of many years had just ended. I was working on accepting the idea that it will likely always be just me and I refuse to spend my life at home simply because I’m single.
So I started hiking in the well trafficked areas of local state parks until becoming comfortable enough to venture out on longer hikes where there are fewer people.
It was intimidating to put it mildly. But once I got used to the uneasiness, it became an experience that I crave.
I breathe better in the woods and despise having a lot of people around when trying to enjoy my surroundings.
Those visitors yesterday marveled at my bravery. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I feel safer by myself in the woods than walking down the street in a city like their hometown. People are nuts and scare me far more than wildlife.
But I’m not stupid. I’m always prepared for something bad to happen and grateful each time I make it out safely. Of course, after the spike in crime in the town with my favorite TJ Maxx, I feel the same sense of relief every time I leave there without incident too.
The bottom line is that you can’t let fear prevent you from living. Know the threats and prepare to avoid or face them the best you can. But you still have to live and enjoy life.
And I’m not just talking about hiking.
Wherever you are right now, you’re probably letting fear hold you back in some way. Fear could even be running your life or preventing you from doing what’s best for you.
It’s ok to be afraid. It is not ok to let fear prevent you from living the life you want and deserve.
Go for the hike. Take the leap, whatever it may be.
You may be surprised at how good it feels.