One step at a time

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I carefully placed my Nike-shod left foot on the forest floor as I began my hike up the slightly inclined trail in San Jacinto National Park, Idyllwild, CA.  The trail led up towards the base of the steep Tahquitz Rock where aspiring climbers began their journey.  I had no such lofty ambitions.  Instead my goal was to challenge myself to do the trail considering that I had sprained my left foot a few weeks ago.  I wanted to prove to myself that this was doable. Several minutes into the trail, I encountered a few rocks and some stone steps cut into the trail.  I stopped.  I was experiencing some light-headedness because of the altitude and just like that my confidence fizzled.   What if my foot slipped?  What if I had difficulty breathing?  What if I passed out?  The thought of  rescuers coming up the trail  to haul my tush down the trail was unthinkable! I felt this little monster on my shoulder needling me.  “You can’t do this.  You should be more careful.  What if you injure your foot again?  What if you can’t breathe?  It is best if you turn around and go back and wait in the car with your cousins.  You should have gone back to your daily walks and then attempted this trail.  What made you think you could do this? ” I stood on that spot for what seemed a long time.  I was at the proverbial crossroads.  Should I continue upwards, trusting my ability and good judgement or helplessly shrug my shoulders and go back down the trail, defeated in spirit and disappointed in myself? Now it was time for some serious self-talk.  “Okay Aban, you know you are going to be disappointed if you give in. You want to prove to yourself that you do have the tenacity to accomplish it using good judgement to know when to stop.  If it gets really challenging and you start to hurt, you can always stop, rest and slowly go down again OR you could rest and continue upwards!” I raised my right foot and placed it on the first step that led upwards and then carefully placed my left foot.  Not bad!  I resumed walking, enjoying the quiet forest, the pine trees, the crunch of my feet alternating on the floor of dried sticks, dried pine cones and leaves.  Left foot, right foot … one step at a time.  When rocks and stones entered my path, I negotiated them or if possible went around them. When I hiked my way back to the starting point, I had done a 3 mile roundtrip!   The elevation was between 5000 and 6000 feet.  I did not go to the base of Tahquitz but another 30 minutes would have taken me there, I was told by another hiker. I overcame my fear and proved something to myself that day and will draw often on that experience when I need the courage to go on.

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4 thoughts on “One step at a time

    • Thanks again! I set these little challenges for myself and be my own champion! Slowly snailing my way into territory I would dream about, occasionally succeeding and occasionally flaking out too!

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