Walking with Me, Myself, and I
If the three of us could only divide and conquer all the dangers of the wild woods.
Ever feel like your Spring got snowed in or maybe this year rained out?
This sums up my Spring.
Recovering from Winter.
I needed to get out!
The thing is, I’m on my own out here in the wilderness. I’m living in an outdoor wonderland but I’m new around here and don’t know anybody yet I want to spend hours with in pursuit of outdoor adventure. Trust issues. Anti-social inclinations perfected at this point.
First venture in feeling myself by myself was barely making it out of the snow on a road trip to Vegas. It had a little bit of the fear and loathing creep in along the way while at the same time loving every minute on the open road, cruising solo.
Along the road to Vegas and back I would spot places to explore with a hike and get scared that I was by myself. This thought cycle has played on repeat my entire first year here in Bend, Oregon as well.
Now Spring is here and I’ve dedicated time to getting out into nature and roaming around.
Alone! The single females trigger warning system alert.
The thought thrashed through my brain, I’m by myself. I thought my mom would be with me on these hikes until we tried that a few times and we are in very different places now in our hiking trail choices.
She’s in a strolling phase of her outdoorsing it life now, averaging about a mile at a time.
I’m in a 3-8 mile window of hiking enthusiasm. A committed day hiker. Although the idea of packing sparks into my fantasies about going out and about in the wilderness overnight and then I remember.
I’m by myself. I’m not alone mind you. Maybe it’s better to say I’m with myself. I’m taking myself out for things I both love to do and do to show how much I love to do them. Remember, It’s a me, myself, and I activity.
Attackers of all sort lurk!
Random tree roots and rocks!
So I started with walks close-in to where I live in Bend, Oregon, which is already kind of out there in the wilderness.
Walking in the city limits on the Deschutes River Trail last week, a warning sign for cougars was posted!
Hey cats! I’m the only cougar on this trail…. If only bad jokes kept dangers away.
Picking a hike a little outside of town, about an hour with plenty of quiet backroads.
Too many backroads it turned out.
On my way I noticed three, maybe four other spots where people were parked to hike. One trail was clearly marked with amenities and I totally thought to myself, should I just stop there?
No way! Stick to the plan Sam! I had made my safety text. To a friend that lives a solid four hours away and doesn’t drive. Perfect worst case scenario planning!
Before I left, I did look for the bear spray I thought I might have and the pocket knife. Finding neither seemed to me a good sign that I wouldn’t need them.
My GPS directs me to take an unmarked turn with no signage. Pretty common out here. So are the unpaved roads. The one I was on was in pretty good shape, for a few miles.
The road started winding, getting narrower as I took turn after turn. When suddenly around a corner a big white truck approached. A work truck. There was huge mountainous piles of tree debris from forest fires either last year or the year before. 2018 was a horrible year for forest fires. May have been the worst year on record in Oregon. Sometimes that means good wildflowers and mushrooms though.
This is actually why I wanted to go into the pine forest: mushroom spotting. A little bird watching. The occasion picture to take. The wildflowers of Spring are a vision of loveliness to behold.
An added red flag warning came with several trees seriously getting their lean on right over the road due to the clearing of trees from fire damage and prevention going on. Please trees, don’t fall on me or the road, preventing my passage.
Driving up and up, yet feeling I’m getting further away from what I really want to do, and more nervous. Then, I miss a turn. The road is so narrow I just have to back back down the road in reverse. The turn I miss is going up yet again and I think for the dozenth time, I’ve gone too far. Let’s me, myself, and I go back. Then I come upon a wash-out on the road and decide, not today mountain lake hike. Not today. My personal Game of Thrones finale tribute!
Not the first time I turn back when the conditions tell me to, won’t be the last. Now I can enjoy the adventure on the way back.
I’ve come a long way in just one year around this predicament and response.
The first time this happened to me, I got so mad. The bonus of this burst of anger, I was just tipping the scales, still in the midst of working through how much my temper and my anger fueled my life experience that it shocked me a little. It had been a serious driver in my emotional range for most of life.
The only thing is now that I’m living with my mom and doing a lot of life with her, I can’t stand that old anger fueled, hot tempered me. The one that got mad at my mom all the time. Granted, she got mad at me all the time too. That was a long time ago now.
This, for me, reinforced that the solutions to problems I came up with when I was 5 years old, definitely no longer serve me.
Spending the years I have now to work through those well established beliefs about myself and how I express them.
Making really big changes to how I want to be present in my life aka feely words warning: behavior change, living my truth, living my joy, using my temper more in humor, I don’t give a fuck what anybody calls it, I call it chilling the fuck out and enjoying this one life to live. Trading my anger for emphatic enthusiasm and making a soap opera reference for the life win!
Something else hit me about my anger response too; when I’m feeling confused or unsure about my next step, if I was able to find something that made me angry, I could pawn it off as more important than working through to gain clarity around the next actions to take in my best interest.It has been fascinating to watch my own progress through both being fully present and also dissociating and watching myself with a bit of distance from what used to work to what works for me now.
Where was I?
Lost in the wilderness.
I got mad the first time this happened. With an indignant, “I came ALL the way out here to be hindered in my pursuit of happiness! Fuck!”
Didn’t make the road or the trail passable.
I had to turn around.
I had to find a new way.
Today the way was back the way I had come. I went too far by myself and I wasn’t safe.
I’ve now discovered there is a dark side to expecting peace and quiet to be inviting. A bright side to constant connectivity when the bars on my phone change to NO SERVICE.
Aren’t I the one that creates my state of mind?
And isn’t the state of mind with me everywhere I go?
It isn’t the place that creates the way I want to feel, it’s me. It wasn’t until I stepped out of old worn out patterns that I felt differently wherever I happened to be.
The truth shall set you free.
The truth is, the parking lot full of cars gave me a great sense of relief about the hike I was about to take. The audible sigh I made, a reinforcement of my comfort and enthusiasm.
I found a lovely spot to hike.
Parking right off the main road.
Cell service on the trail.
A woman alone(almost) in the woods.
Off I went.
The great part was that the initial trail is something that would be perfect for my mom. Living with her now has had its challenges but the rewards after a year are plenty. I can go out by myself, which I like to do, and I can scope out places suitable for her as well.
This perfect mom trail lead me right to some ladies too. They were stopped at a majestic overlook to have lunch. Eight ladies, all a little older than me, a little younger than my mom. A hiking group. What an idea! They were almost as delightful a site to behold as the view because although I like to be by myself, I also like hiking with others because it definitely reduces my fear factor.
Look for group hiking excursions. There are even entire vacations built around hiking. My mom is actually on one right now for birding.
Although I think I saw at least 2 women give me an approving side glance. Groups have that downside too. Organizing the group and hoping for the best in getting along.
Not that I always get along with myself. I’m better at it now. Lots of personal growth work. I needed to do it and we all get along better than ever!
Descending into the canyon and walking along the river was where I wanted to go. A bit more harrowing. The fear crept a little midway down the slope. I took a panic selfie to capture my unwarranted mindframe. This made me laugh and relax to keep trekking. By the time I got to the river I was happily loving my decision to keep going and the location. I took a serene selfie looking down the river.
A sound startled me. Cougar! Creeper dude! Or just a couple with a baby. It doesn’t get more confident building than that.
Then I saw a lady jogging with her dog and realized I had to be closer to town than I thought because I rarely see that when I’m out further in the wilderness. Good sign of safety. Next was an older couple and they looked like they’d been hiking for 80 years. Two very inspirational pros.
Relaxing now into my experience and letting the fears fall away. Fears I never have when I’m with a buddy. A woman walking solo got killed by a cougar on a hike I’d done with my hiking buddy from Portland, Oregon. She is a reminder to be safe and to know the very real dangers in the woods but not to let anything hold you back from what is essential for you to do to make this life all that you want it be.
I’m willing to take some calculated risks in the life I want to live. I’m not free climbing a cliff or going into the wild, wild, wild, wilderness. I’m the wildest thing I want to see in my surroundings.
Stopping for lunch along the river, I thought again about being alone. It was peaceful and quiet as I munched on my apple and carrot. Then I pulled out my stinky beef stick and got a little bugged out again. If I attract danger with my beef stick, I will be pissed!
Then I stopped. I took a deep breath in and let it fully out.
Are you looking for anger?
Are you looking for a fight?
Out in this beautiful setting with all the signs of personal safety present and begging for presence and I’m feeling the fear creep in, the anger calling to come out, the fight waiting for the bell.
Laughing out loud, I stopped, breathed deep the fresh air. Then I looked out at the river and saw a Dipper! I saw a Dipper! What a cute, fun, and river loving bird to spot.
What a treat this learning was. Taking a dip at my thoughts and how to shift them and then how they tease to engage.
Being present with myself by myself helps me experience the ways I want to be present and engage with the ways I don’t so I can elevate my mindset and my behavior to match.
As with everything it is a work in progress and this story is of progress being made toward how I want to be, how I want to live my life, and then doing it.
Laughing out loud at how proud Brene Brown would be! Braving the wilderness. Finding courage in my vulnerability. Letting the shame float away down the river for the cougar to devour!
Admittedly, part of the trail finding frustrations with my mom from the past year, helped further navigate away from anger as a choice and find ease and joy in the experience, wherever the experience may lead.
I want to have more fun with my mom now and not judge or resent her change nor my own. Doing my work first has been the most important work I have ever done. I think back to running million dollar companies and it doesn’t even come close.
Close to the view points, the shade groves, the blooming flowers, the smile on our faces when we both spot a bird we rarely see. It’s both putting the camera down to be fully in the moment and picking the camera up to record some of the moments to look back on for reference of things we’ve seen and expressions of joy on our faces.
It takes good planning and being prepared for anything in order to focus on being present for the adventure as it unfolds.
As Spring rolls into Summer I’m excited for where new and old trails lead.