Two solo hikes in one week. Two Winter 4000 footer solo hikes in one week. Who am I becoming? I’m not quite sure, but I dig it. I really really deeply dig it.
Pierce was a wonderful solo day this past Wednesday, and I think that hike set the tone for this one. Like I talked about in the Pierce blog post, it’s all the process.
Yesterday was MAGIC. Epic. Stunning. Narnia-land.
It was also gratifying, freeing, and comforting.
I woke up unsure if I was even going to hike. I knew of a few friends hiking various mountains, none of that felt right. I’ve been angsty the past few days. Lie. The past few weeks. It’s just been a little more in my conscious awareness the past few days. Knowing this, I knew yesterday needed to feel good on a soul level.
Ultimately I decided I would drive to Crawford Notch to hike something in the Tom/Field/Willey Range. Tom ended up being the decision, and while my ego wanted to go tag Field, I didn’t. Quite frankly, I’m tired of doing things purely out of ego. It’s self-deprecating and when I do things out of ego it gives the vibe to my being that the internal soul self is less important.
I think ego is arguably the hardest component of personal growth to tackle.
It’s so intertwined. To everything. And it’s easy to live based off ego in the Freudian sense (can you tell I have a degree in Psychology/neuroscience 😉 ) without even recognizing it. There’s a lot of unraveling to be done when getting to the core of why we do what we do – like peeling an onion.
So, Mt. Tom hike from Crawford Notch: a lovely 5.8 mile frolic through the woods using the Avalon trail, A-Z trail, and Tom spur trail.
I LOVE the Tom Spur, it begins as dense trees and slowly opens up as you near the summit. While A-Z trail for about the half mile before you get to the junction with Tom Spur is consistently moderate, the Tom Spur is a lovely section of relatively easy trail.
I met some wonderful folks along the Spur, one who is also in the NH Women’s Hiking Group on Facebook, and two others who referenced themselves as “seniors”, ha! It was great to have conversations with all of them. This is one aspect of solo hiking I love – conversations with other hikers. When hiking with friends I rarely spark conversation with other hikers outside of the usual “hi”, “hello”, “happy hiking”, but when solo it can range from meeting new hiking pals to learning about what got someone into hiking, it’s so fascinating.
The other parts of this hike were, for the most part, me myself and I. Alike the recap of Pierce last week, this is another nontraditional hike recap.
When I first began solo hiking two years(ish) ago, I didn’t really enjoy it. There was some fear of the normal things one might be afraid of when being alone in the woods, but mostly I didn’t feel comfortable alone. I couldn’t necessarily pinpoint the discomfort at this time.
Being alone, in solitude – it’s a lot. You are all by yourself, in nature, with your body and mind. As a highly introspective and aware human being, this is overwhelming.
It was overwhelming because I didn’t feel safe in my body and mind. I still needed some level of detachment.
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so introspective, self-aware. Some of this is an innate tendency. I was a highly aware kid. Journaling and writing were practices I naturally adopted around age 12-13. Part of it is having experienced a near decade long battle with anorexia and working my way out of that. And part of it is what comes with doing personal growth work. But it can be lonely, isolating, painful. The more you understand yourself, it can, for a period, feel like nothing makes sense. This is an interim.
It’s understanding your own values, belief systems, intuition, and being able to honestly and gracefully call oneself out.
It’s not running from the dark that will come up.
This work – I wouldn’t go back and undo any of it. Because it really is the answer of why I’m able to actually help people. Because I’m doing the work, and I’m able to give space for people doing the work, and actually understand that it’s a long haul process.
This doesn’t make it easier.
I’m often asked if I’m afraid solo hiking. My answer has always been no – partly because I don’t feel like hearing peoples concern if I say “yes” and partly because even with some degree of fear it has still overall felt safer than general “front-country” life. My answer may soon shift to no because there really isn’t anything to fear if you trust your judgement and let go of ego/”shoulds”/”have to’s”/are aware of weather and surroundings.
I was grabbed by someone at work a few weeks ago. A male, 60’s-ish. I work in retail. THIS IS NOT OK. This is also reality. This happens. This contributes to the lack of feeling unsafe, from a different angle.
As someone who has been through a lot of darkness I still was taken back by this. And, honestly, I shouldn’t have an inkling of “oh well it is what it is and I can handle it”. It just isn’t ok. I’m tired of normalizing.
This shines a bright light onto why I am becoming more into solo time in the woods. I need time with my brain and body. I NEED them to be online with each other. I need to feel safe in my brain and body, because they are both mine and nobody can take that from me.
Yesterday I found myself incredibly curious. Curious of what I would see around each corner. Curious of if I’d see any wildlife. Curious of how many mountains I’d end up summiting. Curious what would come up in my brain.
Solo hiking is incredibly healing when I stay curious and feel safe in my brain and body.
I’m learning that the level of detachment I used to still need, I don’t need it anymore. Rather, there is more of a craving towards more attachment and understanding. Less running from the feelings, and more embracing and thanking of them for being there.
The fight/freeze response I would often historically experience, it’s becoming very rare these days. It’s still here, in my physical body and mind, but avoiding it isn’t the answer. I felt it at work that day, and each shift for probably a week after. Our bodies know. Allowing this side of my being to feel safe is the answer.
Running from it only exacerbates it. No matter how good at running you are. It will catch up.
The clouds are always moving, branches and pine needles rustling in the wind –
but you don’t notice until you stop to watch.
I didn’t notice I didn’t feel safe in my body and mind until I felt it. And, I FELT IT.
Likewise, I didn’t notice I felt safe until I stopped and watched the clouds. This is literal – I stopped on the A-Z trail headed back to my car and watched the clouds for close to probably five minutes.
In awe, content, happy, and SAFE.
There is a sense of becoming a home for myself.
“Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.” – Bethany Hamilton