“People Get Held Back By The Voices Inside Them”
With a few recent exceptions, every hike I go on, at some point I think I can’t make it. That doubt typically surfaces during an ascent. :) For example, last year’s Tinker Cliffs to McAffee’s Knob Hike– I made it up to Tinker’s Cliff fine, but at the halfway point when we started a slight rise right after Brickey’s Gap, a subtle lump rose in my throat, I thought about the path ahead and I wanted to cry.
But as with all hikes, I keep going and before I know it, I’m at the top or in sight of my car and I’m ready for a nice Fuddrucker’s hamburger or better yet, some ice cream.
It is my mind that doubts what my body can do!
This knowledge has come in handy in my professional life. Last July, I had a very hectic travel schedule. In looking over the back to back itineraries and flights, I thought to myself, “I can’t do this! It’s impossible!” Then I remembered all the hikes where a similiar thought crossed my mind. I took it one trip at a time and like hiking, I drank a lot of water and ate well. Before I knew it, I was through all my obligations and I had a great deal of fun while I was at it.
Unfortunately, now I’m on to myself. On five recent hikes (Tinker Cliffs to VA-220, VA-635 to Pine Swamp Shelter, Blackhorse Gap to VA 652, Mount Rogers and Bald Knob), I knew better. I never thought I couldn’t make it. But, with Mt. Bierstadt I definitely had my doubts! Those doubts were a slightly different species, however– they occurred before I even arrived in the state.
When Mike Newman first emailed me the trail info, the elevation gain of 2,850 feet stuck out to me.
Although I had ascended 3000 feet on a hike on an Appalachian Trail, that was spread out over the course of 13 miles. With Mount Bierstadt, the elevation gain was pretty much compacted to a 2 mile area.
Anyone who has hiked with me, knows that I am quite slow on the steep inclines and take a lot of breaks. Add the thin air to the mix, it seemed to be an impossibility.
“It’s like two Angel’s Rests back to back,” I lamented to friends, “with 1/3 the oxygen!”
Enter Mike Newman who was not deterred one bit by my concerns.
“I honestly think you can do it, and you won’t exhaust my patience–you’ll just have to trust me on that one,” he emailed.
It turns out, Mike Newman was correct on both accounts. As soon as I was on the trail, I was no longer concerned. And although I was challenged by the rocky, steep sections– there was never a time where I wanted to turn back…and certainly never a time where I wanted to cry. By the time the trail got hard, the summit was close enough that I knew it was obtainable (though I still reveled in my surprise that I was going to make it). The whole while, break after break, Mike Newman proved to be a very patient and pleasant companion (He also demonstrated an uncanny ability of estimating the number of paces to the next cairn). It turned out to be a wonderful, fulfilling day.
If I had listened to my own doubts or let my worry of irritating Mike Newman win out, I would have settled on a very different hike. I would have missed out. And ultimately what was I worried about? I was worried about looking like a wuss. I would have missed out because I was trying to save face!
This all reminds me of another K’naan quote from The Beginning
People get held back by the voices inside them
I’m glad, thanks to Mike Newman’s encouragement, that I did not fall into that tempting pitfall.
I’m glad that I did not get held back by the voices inside me.