I recently took an eight day, seven night backpacking trip with my husband. Eight whole days without internet access, cell phone, work, and, for the most part, other people.
When we first started hiking, I felt an unfamiliar fear and anxiety attempt to attach itself to something out here. I’m comfortable being out in the Idaho wilderness on the trails by now. I don’t usually look around for something to worry about; out there, there’s enough that’s real to think about without making things up. But this time, it was like I kept grasping for something to be scared of.
I actually considered not going on my solo trip, because I was afraid that I wasn’t ready or wasn’t fit enough to do what I planned to do. I had to keep talking to myself about the difference between this year’s trip and last year’s. Last year, I planned on the aggressive schedule of 20 miles per day on average, which works well enough in the Owyhee desert, but not so well on mountain trails that haven’t been getting the kind of maintenance that would make them easy. This year, with respect for both the large elevation changes of my trail and the disrepair of several sections of it, I planned to average 14 miles per day over 7 days – with the first day being only 8.
It wasn’t until the 3rd or 4th day that I was able to let go of that anxiety and start to feel comfortable about the upcoming solo. By the time I finished the trip, I was feeling ready for the solo, but not ready to go back to the electronic world. I even avoided turning on my phone for several hours after I got back home, and I left it in airplane mode for days and didn’t open social media. Although I did play games and catch up on some of my favorite websites.
I just wanted to keep avoiding the world as much as I could. I wanted vacation to last forever, and to forget about the world for as long as possible.
And while vacation can’t last forever, I can at least try and maintain that connection to the side of myself that the wilderness brings out. The side that knows she can hike the hike, and doesn’t much care what anyone else thinks.