I DID IT!!! If you read my last post, you know that solo hiking is something that I wanted (and needed) to conquer.
Aside from the birth of my little sister, my parents’ wedding day and my own, it was one of the greatest days of my life. I can say that with absolute certainty, me and my thoughts will be venturing into the woods solo again soon.
When I first started this blog, I promised to be excruciatingly real with you… so I’m going to do just that. I wanted to quit. More than once. In fact, I almost wanted to quit before I even started. I layed in bed for an extra few minutes this morning after my alarm, thinking to myself, “is this really something I NEED?”
YES. It ABSOLUTELY was something I need. I think it is something that EVERY young woman should experience because I have truly never felt more empowered in my life. To me, that’s saying something! I’ve done a lot of things that were “empowering” in my life— I mean what’s more empowering than being a barely-18 year old, clueless CHILD moving to Italy?! Talk about a situation that required me to find my inner strength and comfort in my own being.
November 27th, 2013 was probably the last time I really felt that sense of true empowerment that was derived solely from ME. My first full day in Italy was Thanksgiving. I knew no one, had no friends… hell, I didn’t even have linens in my dorm room or food (other than a measly box of cereal from the Shopette) because the store on base was closed. I also didn’t have any mode of transportation. I walked to the main gate, called a taxi and managed to squeak out that I wanted to go to the Pordenone train station. I hopped on a train (of which I honestly had no idea was going the right direction) and spent the day in Venice, eating pizza and gelato while taking shameless selfies in FREAKING ITALY!!!
Solo hiking was different (mostly because of the animal threat and the impending rock scrambling I’m about to tell you about). The first mile or so, I obsessed over bears. I don’t even know where to buy bear spray in this damn state. In Alaska, they sell that shit at Costco! Then I realized I’ve probably developed a severely irrational fear of serial killer bears, so I put that one to bed.
The next voice screaming “turn around” came when I got to the rock scramble. There was a point where I was standing on a giant (literally giant) boulder with about a 10-foot drop below me. And a nice blue trail-marking arrow pointing down. WTF?!? I stood there for a good five minutes and thought to myself… how in the actual fuck is my 5-foot, 3.75-inch ass going to get down there to the TRAIL? I looked up at the summit and started to think… well, I made it this far so I still solo-hiked and I don’t need to make the summit.
No, woman, YOU DO!!
Once I turned off that nasty, quitting voice in my head, I re-evaluated this crevice that was the supposed trail. The summit was there and I was here and I needed to be there. So I found a foot-hold, trusted my body and you guys… I DID IT. And then I did it again. A few more times in a few more crevices. Each time, I got down with the biggest smile on my face.
This rock scramble was no-joke.
I did it. By myself. No hand to hold on the way down or someone to push me up one of the many scrambles I had to drag my body up.
I got to the summit and I cried. I thought that the moment I walked across the graduation stage and received my Bachelor’s Degree was the proudest I’ve ever been of myself. I thought I knew myself, through and through. Boy, was I wrong. That summit was, without a shadow of a doubt, the proudest I’ve ever been of myself and it showed me parts of my soul that I’d never met.
And I’m so damn glad I met those parts because it has forever changed me. I’ve learned that I’m not a quitter. That I’m a strong hiker. That I’m stronger overall than I could’ve ever imagined. That I’m confident. That I’ll shamelessly take selfies until the day I die. That even when I’m scared out of my damn mind, I’m braver than I know.
“Be Brave” (and that damn good, well-deserved brownie) found an entirely new meaning today.
My dad has always said, “Dylan, you are a force to be reckoned with.” Today, I believed him.
Stay wild, friends.
P.S. Hike Stats:
4 hours, 58 minutes
2,432ft Elevation Gain