I usually step out cautiously from my vehicle, peer around, second guess myself and my abilities, and question the safety of the situation.
I imagine all possible things that could go wrong as I get the dogs set up and hoist up my pack. I face the trailhead, peering through the dim pre-dawn light.
What time it would be when I’d actually arrive back in my bed? Another step.
**Loud noise** Oh heck, was that a bear?!* Panic!* Kristen, bears don’t live in this area… Crap, it was a mountain lion! Oh man, it’s going to stalk me and kill me! *scan surrounding area searching for the slightest movement indicating the location of a stalker mountain lion* *hear sound again* Eek! *glance at one of the dogs just in time to see it sneeze a third time* Aye caramaba, Kristen! Calm the heck down! *deep breath*
I hope I’ll have the courage to finish the whole loop.
Without realizing it, I’m an hour into my hike and oblivious to my list of worries. The beauty of the mountains has taken priority.
Heading down into a valley I’m suddenly catapulted forward, flailing about awkwardly as I try to gain my balance so I can fight off the mountain lion that took me down!
I dust myself off and return to my hike – this time balancing the wonder and joy with a healthy respect (not fear!) for my surroundings.
I’ve been here before – maybe not on this trail exactly, but in this situation of taking those first steps into an unknown.
There is still that first hurdle to jump, that first step to take, but it is always worth it.
Garden Valley Loop
First Water Trailhead