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View Full Version : Fears you have, fears you have overcame while on the AT



Spirit Bear
04-09-2013, 11:40
I am new to theAT community and hiking as well. Only a year under my belt and about 100 totalmiles of hiking on the AT, all weekend hiking and one 5 day section hike.

With that said I wanted to share my fears and the fears I have overcame sincehiking. Also, I would like to hear from you all on what your fears are, whatfears you have overcame while hiking.


Mycurrent fears I have yet to overcome.

Getting Lyme disease. (Had a friend get it a few years ago walking at his localpark in the woods, found a tick removed it and 3 months later diagnosed with Lymedisease, he hasnít been the same since he says)

Hyperthermia-(Just a general fear I have of being soaking wet and cold)

Stepping on a Rattlesnake or copperhead (Nearly stepped on a copperhead on agravel road walking my dog 10 years ago, freaked me out and I have had a fear eversince.)

Breaking an ankle or slipping and falling off a cliff (I slipped and fell up onblood mtn after a heavy rain, fell about 8 feet down the side of a rock face,freaked me out, I have a fear of that now, before it never occurred to me)

FearsI have overcame.
Bears-I have encountered 6 bears over the course of 12 months of hiking the GAsection of the AT, my last encounter I overcame the fear, I was aloneencountered him at sunset, then went straight to bed in my hammock didnít thinkof it again.

Alone- People, some people are afraid of being alone on the trail, especiallyat night. I was afraid at first but after my first 5 or 6 nights I learned toembrace it. Now when people ask about fears I always refer to this one.

yaduck9
04-09-2013, 12:53
Stepping on a Rattlesnake or copperhead (Nearly stepped on a copperhead on agravel road walking my dog 10 years ago, freaked me out and I have had a fear ever since.)

Hiking down the Verde River, AZ, my two friends and I ran into a rattlesnake, two days in a row. First one was just off the trail under a bush. The second was hidden in tall dried grass. Heard it rattle, but did not see it until it "rose" out of the grass. It then moved off. After that, I developed a "flinch", for several years, whenever a certain desert insect would emit a "buzz" during the heat of the summer day. My friends found this highly entertaining, me, not so much. I still have a mild fear of rattlesnakes and a higher fear of "entertaining" my "friends".

MuddyWaters
04-09-2013, 21:30
Grounded fears are a good thing.
It keeps you from being careless.
It keeps you alive.

Irrational fears, on the other hand
Are bad things
There is a difference

Tuckahoe
04-09-2013, 21:54
I have a fear of sharks, particularly great whites and tiger sharks. Fortunately I havent run into any on the AT.

Sarcasm the elf
04-09-2013, 22:02
I fear gravity, heat exhaustion, Lyme disease (on a side note, it's NOT called "Lymes" disease) and hypothermia, in that order. I'm also a bit wary of the two legged wildlife, but that's more of a rational fear.

I was scared of black bears when I first started hiking, now I'm just fascinated by them. I plan to hike solo more often this year and I'd love to see a couple more of them.

Double Wide
04-09-2013, 23:38
Fear of failure. But hopefully that one keeps me going.

Kookork
04-10-2013, 00:08
I have almost the same concern of yours. I just do not refer to them as fears ,they are just my concerns and they are all natural and protect us from being hurt. I am worried about my dog stepping on a snake since the snakes we have around here are harmless and he just ignores them. I am not sure what he is going to do when they rattle . I will see.

I am a man of practicality and since the rattle snakes are common but being bitten by them is very rare , I accepted that they are potentially and not practically dangerous. Same goes for bears . Potentially fatal but practically safe.

Falling is both potentially and practically dangerous so I slow down my pace when I am high on rocks and take my time. It is exposure to fears that finally helps you overcome them as you said that bear exposure made you overcome its fear.

Keep the concern and leave the fear.

garlic08
04-10-2013, 09:14
If you make a list of what people fear, and make another list of what actually hurts people, the lists are pretty much opposite. Hardly anyone (except maybe Kookork above, wisely) fears falling down or tripping when they go out hiking. Yet that's the most common cause of injury on trails. Everyone fears large mammal attack and lightning and snakes, yet those hardly ever happen.

One practical application of your fears is knowing that you pack them. If you're afraid of the cold, you'll pack lots of extra clothes and fuel. If you're afraid of the the dark, you'll pack several large light sources and maybe even a heavier tent. Afraid of hunger or thirst? Lots of extra food and water at the end of your trip. The frightened newbie will have a huge pack (and a wide-eyed stare), the confident hiker who has confronted the fears will have a much smaller pack and a peaceful mind.

I like to learn something new on every hike. My AT hike taught me not to fear hills or getting wet.

SCRUB HIKER
04-10-2013, 13:54
I was also afraid of leg injury, chronically or acutely acquired. I remember talking with a Swedish guy about it in Tennessee, saying how we both felt really strong but we each knew that the next step could be the one where your leg starts hurting and doesn't stop, and maybe it stays hurt after you stop hiking, too. I had just started to forget about that fear when, naturally, my lower leg started hurting one random morning outside Duncannon. Turned out to be bone bruising and a stress fracture. I had to stop for two weeks because of the pain, and ended up skipping ahead and not completing the entire trail because of it. Luckily it was treatable with rest, and not some injury that's going to stay with me for years, but those can happen too. This fear hasn't really left me, it turns out.

I used to have a fear of cold water, but I was a raft guide last summer on a freezing-ass-cold river (46 degrees year round), and I had a few unplanned swims in there, which helped me start to get over it. That said, I also became more conscious of the multiple things that can go wrong in swift water, especially without a life jacket--just the sort of situation that one comes across on the PCT and CDT in high snowmelt. I've crossed high-snowmelt Sierra streams before, on a trip I took about 7 years ago, and I was fine, so I'm confident in my ability to be smart about it. But I'm still afraid of the consequences of a mistake. I don't know where this falls on the fear spectrum. I guess I would call it something I'm concerned about.

I never really had animal fears. I think the only one is dogs, and this one's actually getting worse. Living in Oregon doesn't help because no one leashes their damn dog here because they everyone thinks they're sooo smart and so dedicated to their animal and they've trained them so well. Two days ago I was on a training hike and these two hipsters were coming down the trail and sure enough their enormous mongrel noticed me and came sprinting at me, growling, teeth bared, the whole nine yards. All their yelling and calling the dogs name meant nothing to that thing, because it turns out that deep down in its tiny little brain, it's actually still a wild animal. It stopped about two feet in front of me, but only because I had picked up a stick, started yelling at it and was ready for freaking battle. So yeah ... I'm not over the dog thing yet. Way more scared of them than bears, snakes or spiders.

HikerMom58
04-10-2013, 19:01
I love this thread Spirit Bear. The 2 fears that you listed that you have overcome are the very 2 that I'm still working on. I've come along way with the bear fear but I haven't made any progress on the hiking alone fear.

I loved reading what everyone else had to say on this thread. Thumbs up!

Graygen
04-10-2013, 20:38
I typically hike alone - I enjoy the solitude and the time by myself, but initially I was somewhat fearful. Over time and with more experience experience I have basically overcome that fear. Now - as I get older, I am very aware - and still somewhat fearful, of hiking up and over slick rock bald sections.

Swordpen
04-11-2013, 01:16
I am 55.

I have 2 bad hips, the Right is replaced, the left the orthopod is guessing I have 5 years left on it.

My Left knee swells sometimes out of the blue & causing real problems with it for 3 days or so (necessitating cane, even a walker once or twice in the last 6 years since this has been happening), seemingly to me, for no good reason.

The orthopod says I have mild arthritis in the L knee, maybe a knee replacement someday will be necessary.

I am afraid I will damage one of the joints permanently & have to get another joint replacement way sooner than necessary.

Wadadli
04-11-2013, 12:06
I have had Lyme Disease. Yuck.
I have been under the spell of hypothermia. Kind of interesting, actually.
I was bitten by a copperhead whilst crashing thru some bushes where he was minding his own business.

Know what makes me afraid? I'm afraid to fall on those lichen-covered rocks because not only does the rock hurt your parts, the stuff growing on it makes the scrape/cut burn like crazy. It's silly but that will make me seize up nearly every time.

Kookork gave good advice re: concern vs fear.

SwissGuy
04-11-2013, 12:22
The only thing I am actually fearful of on the trail is other people. We've all met someone who we just wanted to get away from as quickly as possible, and it is that prickly back of the neck feeling when you meet someone you just do not feel right about that is really the only "fear" I have.

I hope I don't meet a bear or break a leg or get hypothermia of course, but I'm not afraid of them because I take steps to mitigate or eliminate the threats those pose, but I cannot account for the actions of other people, I cannot do anything but get away from those who I get a bad feeling about.

as was well said in a particular piece of literature:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

MDSection12
04-11-2013, 13:02
Getting over the weird feelings that can come over you on a solo has been very liberating for me. Usually around dusk I get this 'oh crap, it's just me out here and it's about to be dark' feeling... But lately that's turned into a 'how lucky am I? This whole area will be mine tonight!' feeling.

moose717
04-11-2013, 13:10
I used to be afraid of bugs ... any kind of bug ... from an ant to a spider. Not anymore though. While I don't like them, I can live with them and just brush them off if they land on me. I am afraid of hiking alone (not so much hiking alone, but sleeping alone in the middle of the woods). Not because of animals or the dark (I'm afraid of the dark at home and still have to sleep with a hall light on!), but I am concerned about other people on the trail. As my kids like to say, I'll talk to EVERYONE. I don't know if I will ever really recognize, by intuition or the hair raising on my neck, if someone is a danger to me. I guess you could say I'm not really afraid of people on the trail, I'm concerned about my ability to determine if someone is not so good.

Malto
04-11-2013, 16:19
This is what we should fear! Think about this in Maine!

http://news.sky.com/story/1076746/beaver-bites-man-to-death-in-belarus-attack

Spirit Bear
04-11-2013, 17:41
This is what we should fear! Think about this in Maine!

http://news.sky.com/story/1076746/beaver-bites-man-to-death-in-belarus-attack

:banana
LOL

moldy
04-11-2013, 19:54
Alone in a remote shelter on a dark and stormy night and ......in walks "Lone Wolf"....my biggest fear

jingle jangle
04-11-2013, 20:04
fear of boredom

Tuckahoe
04-11-2013, 20:15
Alone in a remote shelter on a dark and stormy night and ......in walks "Lone Wolf"....my biggest fear
Watch out for the beer and shine he's bringing with him...

Sarcasm the elf
04-11-2013, 22:57
I feel like this belongs here:

https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/553040_452998478118287_2007899992_n.jpg

keepinitsimple
04-12-2013, 17:53
Most of the fears I deal with on the trail are between my ears. I have overcome many hiking related fears over the years. One time the wind blew wrong on my neck at dusk, and the leaves rusltled in a freaky way- I grabber my pack, scooped my stuff into it with one fell swoop and ran down the trail for what must have been 30 mins until I calmed down and set camp again. I had not been that alive in a while, scared ****less. I self talk myself out of that stuff anymore.

I rather spend a fair amount of trail time processing and dealing with fears about life off the trail, jobs, kids, spouse, cancer, saying good bye to loved ones. it's almost a ritual. I go through certain feelings, acknowledge them, sit with them, and then try to put them back in the stuff sacks of my brain- needless to say, some of the crap I leave on the trail. I loose weight on the trail, but not from starvaton. I regularly carry bags of crazy thoughts in to the woods and leave them there.

HikerMom58
04-12-2013, 19:51
Most of the fears I deal with on the trail are between my ears. I have overcome many hiking related fears over the years. One time the wind blew wrong on my neck at dusk, and the leaves rusltled in a freaky way- I grabber my pack, scooped my stuff into it with one fell swoop and ran down the trail for what must have been 30 mins until I calmed down and set camp again. I had not been that alive in a while, scared ****less. I self talk myself out of that stuff anymore.

I rather spend a fair amount of trail time processing and dealing with fears about life off the trail, jobs, kids, spouse, cancer, saying good bye to loved ones. it's almost a ritual. I go through certain feelings, acknowledge them, sit with them, and then try to put them back in the stuff sacks of my brain- needless to say, some of the crap I leave on the trail. I loose weight on the trail, but not from starvaton. I regularly carry bags of crazy thoughts in to the woods and leave them there.

That is awesome!!

WalksInDark
04-12-2013, 21:28
Had a fear of getting bitten on the leg by a poisonous snake....after coming within 6" of sitting on a handful of copperheads...I now also have a fear of sitting on them and getting bitten on my hind regions.

Multiple solo hikes have pretty much broken me of my fear of camping alone.

Having fallen down and knocked myself unconscious...and woken up disoriented and bleeding profusely while solo hiking I now have a whistle pinned to the outside of my pack....just in case I need to try to get help.

Having stayed up too many nights wondering about a snag/broken limb/tree falling on me, I now get to most of my remote hammock hanging spots well before dark. When the wind is really blowing I take solace in knowing if "The Big One" actually falls on me...I will be too busy enjoying the raindrop falling on my tarp to really notice.

Still need to get over my fear of needing stuff...carrying way too much of it...and never using it. Maybe I can start by finishing all of my food rather than ending with 3 more days worth. Would love to experience a sub 30# pack for a multi-day hike.

Oh Well!

HikerMom58
04-14-2013, 17:35
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuqzVmHgwiY

So I just stumbled across this video on the internet.... the title of it caught my eye. I actually watched the entire vid. I was surprised to hear this guy admit the very thing I'm afraid of doing, myself. Hiking alone. Fast forward to 24:00, on the vid, and what he describes himself feeling is exactly the same thing I feel. I don't like hiking alone. Especially being out there alone at night...

If you have a minute take a listen.

Tuckahoe
04-14-2013, 18:38
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuqzVmHgwiY

So I just stumbled across this video on the internet.... the title of it caught my eye. I actually watched the entire vid. I was surprised to hear this guy admit the very thing I'm afraid of doing, myself. Hiking alone. Fast forward to 24:00, on the vid, and what he describes himself feeling is exactly the same thing I feel. I don't like hiking alone. Especially being out there alone at night...

If you have a minute take a listen.

Chad is "STICK" here on WB. I have enjoyed many of his YouTube videos and found myself enjoying this one too when he posted it. From what I remember too he missed his family as well.

Malto
04-14-2013, 20:42
Having stayed up too many nights wondering about a snag/broken limb/tree falling on me, I now get to most of my remote hammock hanging spots well before dark. When the wind is really blowing I take solace in knowing if "The Big One" actually falls on me...I will be too busy enjoying the raindrop falling on my tarp to really notice.


Oh Well!

i had a close call, about 5', from having a multi pound chunk of a tree hit me while hiking Saturday. Now a new thing to fear!

MuddyWaters
04-14-2013, 22:26
Just put in earplugs, and you will never be aware of the bears, hogs, cougars, and deranged hillbillies that are out to get you.

TheYoungOne
04-15-2013, 10:17
The funny thing is, when I'm camp out for the night on the AT, I actually worry about something happening at home. I will wonder if the wife and kids are OK? Did they lock the door and set the alarm before going to bed. What if there is a break in, what if there is a fire?

For me personally on the trail, at this point I'm just worried about falling during a rock scrammble and hurting myself bad. Also having my car broken into during a section hike. Animals including bears don't scare me anymore, and I would only worry about crazy hillbillies at road crossings and trail heads.