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Anyone battle fear on the trail?

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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby rlown » Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:02 pm

hmm.. Wikipedia seems to cover all the aspects so far mentioned under "Anxiety."

Anxiety
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Anxiety (disambiguation).
Anxiety

Anxiety (also called angst or worry) is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components.[2] It is the displeasing feeling of fear and concern.[3] The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness, and dread.[4] However, anxiety should not be confused with fear, it is more of a dreaded feeling about something which appears intimidating and can overcome an individual.[5] Anxiety is considered to be a normal reaction to a stressor. It may help an individual to deal with a demanding situation by prompting them to cope with it. However, when anxiety becomes overwhelming, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder.[6]


at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anxiety

Still, seeing the trailhead sign relaxes me as long as I've planned well with contingency plans.



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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby sparky » Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:58 pm

I think hope and anxiety are two ends with a wide spectrum in between, but sit as opposites. There is a certain element of fear that is what I would consider wisdom.

We all live a subjective life, and what things mean to me don't mean anything to anyone else, and vice versa. There is no right or wrong when it comes to what emotions are necessary. It is absolutely impossible for any of us to not be exactly the way we are supposed to be, to react the way we are supposed to react. I will try to remember that the next time my lady freaks out over what I think is "nothing" :lol:
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby East Side Hiker » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:50 am

There's really "not much" to fear in the Sierra. John Muir called it the "Gentle Wilderness." Bears are not a problem unless you provoke them. The landscape is not a problem if you don't push it and stay on the trail (with your children). Using common sense will prevent problems with the landscape. If there's snow, wait and follow a large group of people.

Pick routes that are popular, so the bears are scattered and the landscape (trail) has been trampled. But in these cases, you need to get a permit very early. With a lot of people around, your fears will diminish. Try trails out of Mammoth, June Lake, Saddlebag Lake, Carson Pass...

But don't fear the trail, just be cautious and calculating. And get those permits early.
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby oldranger » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:34 am

I kind of laughed at the thought at first of being afraid on the trail then I reflected on my experiences this year.

1. Several days hiking in Glacier and Waterton Lakes. Kathy and I carried bear spray canisters, made a lot of noise and never saw a Grizz on the trail. But our anxiety level was pretty high.

2. I camped alone at Domke Lake near lake Chelan in the Washington Cascades. Just as I finished peeing in the middle of the night and was returning to my tent I heard a sound that seemed like a cross between a sick cow mooing and and elk bugling . I knew that a moose had been spotted in the area recently and the sound continued for at least 5 minutes after I returned to the tent. All I could imagine was getting trampled to death by an enraged moose while trapped in my tent. But soon I fell asleep and remarkably I woke up the next morning still alive.

Oh check out Snow Nymphs signature. Says it all and she has had a more terrifying experience than I would wish on anyone.

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby East Side Hiker » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:00 am

Yes, Glacier/Waterton and the Northern Cascades - I would have fear. And I would not take my children there on backpacking trips (though I don't have children any more - they're wilderness-addicted adults). But not the Sierra.

Years ago (1975?), some friends of mine and I walked the trail from Banff (spell?) to Jasper (I forget what they call it - the North Border Route or something like that - it's the "John Muir Trail" of the Banff/Jasper area). We saw steaming grizzly dung and heard wolves howling about every night. We were scared all of the time.

They had these cabins though that you could stay in at night along the route. But during the day, we were very much on the alert and very worried. You just have to be in touch with the area you are travelling and be aware of the potential dangers. But on a well traveled trail in the Sierra, I have little to fear but twisting my ankle and falling down (I might not be able to get up!).
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby Poopah » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:53 am

I have a very strong fear of heights. If I know that I'll be on an exposed trail later in the day I'll spend the whole day worrying about it. On our overnight of Whitney I enjoyed the first day and was miserable the second. I try to be rational about it, but my body has other ideas. So I just live with it.

When I'm backpacking with my brother(s) I don't have any fear other than the heights issue. I don't worry about critters, or illness, or people. Even last month in Yellowstone I was alert when we were on a trail that had a resident griz, but I wasn't afraid.
However, when I'm with my wife and kids I'm constantly worried. I don't sleep well, and I don't relax nearly as much. It's clearly about responsibility. That also shows in that I've become more risk adverse. I'm a fly-fisherman and in my younger days I caught more than others because I was willing to fish in places in the river others shied from. Now when I wade I stick to the safer spots. I'd feel like an idiot if I left young kids behind just so I could catch another fish.
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby Shhsgirl » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:46 pm

About 35 years ago, I sat on the exposed southern slope of North Palisade at 6:00 p.m., waiting for my husband to come down from the top, in the worst thunder and lightening storm I have ever experienced. From that date forward, I have had a higher than normal, I've been told, fear and anticipation of thunderstorms at high altitudes.
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby coneill » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:12 pm

This is "Hiking family" = I am posting with my husband's account...

Anyway, it's been so great reading all of your responses.

Truth is, I feel such peace, joy, and contentment on the trail in the Sierras. 16 years ago though, my body suddenly went into a grand mal seizure cycle when out in the EAGle cap wilderness...I was strong, healthy, athletic, and my body just suddenly collapsed. I continued to have a grand mal seizure every 45 min, becoming completely unconscious. Thankfully, a band of Forestry service men happened by with a Hamm radio and could call in a life flight helicopter or I would have died.

So....when I am out in the deep of a wilderness, it's at times unnerving to be out of cell phone reach...I am not epileptic...in fact, I am a competitive distance runner that still wins most 5Ks and 10Ks I sign up for...but the fact remains, I collapsed without warning.

Anyway, this last summer, I had a breakthrough. I experienced what Muir described: the beauty was so amazing, so complete, and I just became thankful to be there and so consumed with the beauty that there was no longer any room for fear.

For the first time, I enjoyed the moment without sharing it with fear. Yay!

This fall, I did some research - there is a lot more info online then there was in 1996! I found out new information. As it turns out, the birth control pills that I was on (I stopped those immediately after the seizures and never took anything like that again) have been known to cause seizures. I actually never have known what triggered those crazy things and thought it was the altitude...but just a few months ago, I discovered that many girls have had this reaction.

So, I can't wait to hit the trail next summer. I need not fear my own body anymore!

Besides, none of us know how many days we have. Let's just savor the time we do have!

Hiking Family
"You have the ability to move mountains. You can bend rivers. But when I get home, the only thing I have power over, is the garbage." - Bob Ross

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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby Cross Country » Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:48 pm

Fear on the trail and fear in the backcountry are not quite the same. I don't ever remember being afraid on the trail (or at a campsite by a trail). I have been afraid cross country, but as most know that's where I spent most of my time. If I didn't feel any fear cc I probably wasn't paying enough attention. The only time I felt any significant fear is when I was cc with my son(s) who might very well have not have been able to hike out alone if something happened to me. My fear was almost always for his (their) safety. I took my 2 sons to Dumbbell Lakes and went for a walk alone and noticed significant fear (for them). I took 12yo Mike to Tunamah and felt very uncomfortable (again fear for him). Dumbbell was a loop trip and retracing their steps would have been dangerous because of the snow conditions that year. Our route to Tunamah would have been impossible for Mike to retrace. Hiking cc by myself always made me a bit fearful.

Mike at Tunemah.
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby SSSdave » Mon Dec 03, 2012 5:18 pm

There are certainly many potentially dangerous situations backpacking into the Sierra Nevada though one can easily avoid almost all of them by planning an easy and gentle trip. For new backpackers there are certainly many unknowns likely lurking in their minds that no amount of studying how to books or talking to other experienced people is going to calm until they actually get out in the backcountry and work through some experiences. And I would guess the fear is greatest solo and less so as a group size increases. For those who already spend time hiking in our mountains, the transition from hiking to backpacking may be trivial. For the urban person that is just experiencing the mountains it may be significant.

The greatest fear for most people rises during nights when people for the first time have to face the primal human fear of wild animals, particularly bears. :eek: At lower elevations the same situation occurs with mountain lions. I don't thnk most people really expect beforehand to be so afraid :paranoid: until they are actually out there on that first night at a remote place and suddenly they notice how creepy it all is unlike anything they have felt. :confused: My suspicion is there are numbers of new backpackers that never backpack again if they have a night time bear experience. Such is far more scary for the solo person camped remotely. Especially in a dark tall mid elevation forest where every night time critter walking about causes crunching twig sounds. All sorts of spooky noises. Worse for those sleeping outside without a tent where one feels...EXPOSED. :paranoid: And even if a person has heard that their particular area has not seen any bears for years, it won't make much difference as their heart goes LUB-DUB LUB-DUB LUB-DUB LUB-DUB.

About then the new backpacker is fumbling about in inky blackness inside their tent for the one flashlight they brought along. Dang? Where is it? They furiously feel all over, in their pockets, beside their sleeping bag, but it isn't anywhere so they start over and it still taint. Is it in my pack outside by that tree? They grope for their tent zipper but the notion of opening the door is daunting. By then their fear is compounded by a loss of control. Finally the person gropes about into the back end of their tent where they find the little tube rolling loose. And on goes the light Whew! But then crunch cruch...what's that noise...LUB-DUB LUB-DUB LUB-DUB LUB-DUB. :eek:
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby Cross Country » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:22 pm

I have to admit, it was the primal fear that I always noticed at night when I was alone. However I could always rationalize that one, and overcome it. I never slept well in the high country but that was physiological and maybe no more than that.
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Re: Anyone battle fear on the trail?

Postby cmon4day » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:08 pm

I tend to become more "anxious" when I take my kids out on a BP trip or when I'm out on a trip that I had planned. There seems to be something always inside that makes me feel anxious. It goes away on towards the end of the trip. I think Poopah hit the nail on the head when he states

Poopah wrote:I It's clearly about responsibility.


There is something about it. Go figure.
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