[pct-l] Response to Fear is a Choice

ned at pacificcrestcustombuilders.com ned at pacificcrestcustombuilders.com
Fri Jan 30 03:09:15 CST 2009

Diane is also correct, to a point, so let's be real.

What we don't know, understand, or have experience with can be scary or 
fearful. We don't know what's going to happen. Ignorance can be bliss or 
death, depends what happens and what you allow yourself to get into, 
realistically. However, we have at our disposal, should we choose to stop 
our blind, ignorant run and consider the cliff ahead, the power to chose.

Choice has changed history. Choice has the power to change your future. The 
choice I speak of has to do with how you respond to fears in your life. Do 
you choose to question them, or at the worst, challenge them at all? Most of 
the fears I have the pleasure of helping our wilderness students through are 
fears of the unknown. I am secure in the mountains, but thrust me in the 
inner city today, where I used to work as a Paramedic years ago, and my 
uneducated, inexperienced, unrealistic fears would mount up within and 
overcome me. (The inner city kids I have taken into the backcountry were 
just as fearful of it! Imagine that! With patient, slow exposure and much 
reassurance, doubt and fear were dispelled, but only when the kids were 
willing to try, to choose to test, even challenge, those fears.)

Yet, as Diane said, if I stayed in a strong, experienced group, I might make 
it through those inner city streets fearlessly. Yes, by staying within the 
protective herd of assumed experienced through hikers, it is highly probable 
that you will go the distance. Your inexperience and lack of self-confidence 
born out of fear compels you to stay in groups for safety. If this is how 
you want to enjoy the Pacific Crest Trail, that's your choice and 
realistically accomplished. But you could experience so much more of the 
trail and your self by choosing to confront your fears through pre-trip 
education, skills training, and practice, all of which builds your knowledge 
and appreciation of wildness, your self-confidence, and sense of strength, 
independence, and accomplishment.

They say, life is all about the choices we make. Do you choose to be 
controlled by your fears or will you face them and see if they are real?

This is a plea. If you are about to place yourself out in the mountains and 
have a lack of experience in any area that you foresee encountering, please 
stop and consider learning more about it before continuing on with your 
planning. This is how you "arm yourself" for the endeavor ahead. I've seen 
too many hikers ruin their experience and enjoyment of their "dream of a 
lifetime" hike by simply and ignorantly believing that all they need to do 
is have the right food the other guys took and the lightest pack everyone 
likes and all will go well without pre-trip practice in the conditions 

The one area of preparation I didn't receive, didn't even know about, was 
creek crossings. One crossing could have killed me and another immersion 
nearly killed my partner out on the Crest when I was 17 in the Sierras and 


-----Original Message ----- 
From: "Diane at Santa Barbara Hikes dot com" <diane at santabarbarahikes.com>
To: <pct-l at backcountry.net>
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2009 10:25 PM
Subject: Re: [pct-l] High Sierra Snow: Leaders and followers

> On Jan 29, 2009, at 9:54 PM, pct-l-request at backcountry.net wrote:
>> Re: High Sierra Snow: Leaders and followers
> Let's not start stoking out-of-control fears about snow and raging
> rivers. I was scared off the trail by such stories.
> I found the snow on the PCT annoying and tiring but not incredibly
> dangerous. With no experience in snow, I found it hard to walk on,
> mostly when it was flat. It was slippery and the sun cups were more
> like the chasms of hell. Following the trail became a chore because
> it was hidden. But even without a compass and map you could find the
> way if you were hiking within the bubble of the herd.
> I was too scared of the few creek crossings described in the book as
> dangerous so I skipped those parts of the trail. But trying to find
> information about what those creek crossings actually were like has
> been a bust. It seems they were so forgettable that nobody remembered
> them well enough to complain about them in their journals.
> I was cheated out of the trail by my fears which were partially
> inflamed by the hyperbole on this forum. So please, be realistic.
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