Monday, July 9, 2012

Coming Down Is the Hardest Thing

Fifteen minutes into an Appalachian Trail hike, I was riddled with second thoughts.

I probably wouldn’t have been so skeptical if I’d been properly dressed. I expected an uphill nature walk in the deep, dark woods, along rough-ish terrain – not a climbing-over-jagged-rock-ledges course that’s better destined for the REI-poles-and-backpack breed of hikers. Had I known this was an Outward Bound-caliber trail, or had I remembered that it rained the night before, I would have worn thicker shoes. And a pair of socks.

More than one individual has told me that I’m the most stubborn person they’ve ever met. Quitting doesn’t come easy to me. I climbed up one set of rocks, and then another.

In spite of the country-bohemian attire, it’s possible I could have gone all the way up and come back down, yelling and cursing from start to finish, without much incident. It was all about the gamble.

The now well-publicized notion of “do[ing] something that scares you every day” is a noble concept, but even nobility has its boundaries. Nobody needs to be a hero all the time. Selective heroism is more gangsta.

Prematurely turning around and gingerly scaling down those two sets of slick, mossy rocks was sketchier than propelling myself to the top of them had been. It wouldn’t have taken much for a seasoned klutz to slip and fly down the adjacent ravine that most likely wouldn’t have offered much to grab onto during the freefall toward the forest’s floor.

I’ve made it out of the woods, once again, in one piece. 


  1. Puh-LEEZE do not get too adventuresome in the wild. Many years ago one of my friends, a photographer, was standing on a mountaintop, and he just HAD to get a better angle. He fell into a deep gorge. He had left his camp while his wife was still asleep. He had left no note, so she had to search for him when he did not return. Imagine how horrible--to see your dead husband lying at the bottom of a gorge. His death cured any interest in "the wild" that I ever had.

  2. Dude, this must be a meme. My 70-year-old mother called me yesterday and, in casual conversation, told me she'd gone up to the mountains and found that there was no water coming down to the holiday house. So she went climbing up into the woods (no one would have known where she was if she didn't make it), fell twice (it had been raining there too)... all so she could "see what was wrong with the water pipe".

    I gave her a good talking to, as there was absolutely NO point in her doing this, since the repairman was going to have to go up there himself to do the fixing anyway.

    I think she just likes to prove she still "has it" - but I wanted to hit her in the face with a cream pie. Jeez!

    Glad you made it, but please be careful... "Mother Nature" really doesn't give a shit.

  3. I always find going up easier than coming down. Coming down from just about anything (physical or metaphorical) is risky and more dangerous and depressing too.