Yesterday, I had the opportunity to hike Pinnacles National Monument. I had never been there so I wasn't sure what to expect other than a day of great hiking and spectacular views.
We decided to research online and come up with a "plan." I looked at maps, pictures and read about all the different trails. All of what I read said the trails were moderate and family friendly. Some of the pictures showed rocks with hand rails on steep terrain and caves needing flashlights. Hmm, I thought. I've come a long way overcoming my fear of heights and tight spaces. Could I be facing two fears all at once? All the information suggested the trails were stable and family friendly so I forgot all about my fear and looked forward to a great day.
We prepared for our journey by mapping it out to include most of the top sights to see. There are several in the park and miles of hiking trails. My map and plan was slightly different than my friends but similar all the same. We packed food, lots of water, head lamps, sunscreen and all the other things we needed for a great hike.
I was so excited and couldn't wait to get there! Our first trail was to the caves. I got to the place that said "flashlights required" and I felt fear. What if an earthquake happens and I'm trapped? It was only a matter of seconds before I realized my thought started with a "what if." I was not going to let a "what if" ruin my fabulous journey into the caves. I didn't want to miss what was ahead. I put the head lamp on and down into the cave we went. It was dark and a tight squeeze in some places but an incredible experience. On the other side were bright reddish orange rock formations and a condor soaring way above us. What if I had given in and turned around at the cave instead of going through? I would have missed something great!
The next part of our journey took us up the mountains. This was the longest part of our planned hike. It was steep and hot. I wanted to power up this part to get through it and not lose momentum but my friend wanted to stop along the way to rest. Stopping allowed us to rest a bit but also see the beauty surrounding us. To smell the forest, to look back and see how far we had come. To watch the car get smaller and smaller in the parking lot off in the distance. We stopped to talk to a guy that asked where we were heading and said our plan might be too much for one day and suggested and alterior route. "Man, what a Debbie Downer he was," I thought. So we kept moving forward and staying the course. We stopped and talked to another lady who said how scary one part of the trail was. She said it was steep and narrow with sheer cliff in parts. Fear began to set in. I was getting tired from the steep climb and that was a perfect opportunity for fear to begin to have its way. We decided to re-evaluate our plan once we reached the top.
We reached the top and the view was outstanding. Our plan needed to be changed. The original way was too long for one day. So it was either go back the way we came or take the steep and narrow trail,We stayed up there for quite awhile, enjoying the scenery and talking to other hikers. I was getting more and more afraid and I couldn't figure it out. My friend suggested we try the steep and narrow trail and if I didn't like it, we could turn around and go back the way we came. I didn't like the words, "turn around and go back the way we came." Those words along with fear kept going around and around in my head and before long, I wasn't enjoying my journey and going back was beginning to look like the answer.
I felt a bit defeated and I didn't like it at all. Too many times in my life have I gone back the way I came and it was disappointing and life stealing.
We set out on the steep and narrow path, knowing we could turn around. We came to one set of hand rails and I felt more fear. As I looked around, it wasn't as steep as other trails I've been on so we moved forward. We came to the base of another set of handrails with carved out steps and I knew I had to make a choice. Either go back defeated or power through and possibly experience something I never have before. I just couldn't go back. I suddenly thought about other areas in my life and how I could go back or press through and have the experience of a lifetime. We moved forward, and oh my what a spectacular time it was! The trail was steep and very narrow at one point but there was also a condor soaring just above us and the view of the mountain ranges and rock formations was outstanding! We crossed a bridge and went through a tunnel. I would have missed all of that had we turned back. My friend would have missed it as well. Our choices don't affect just us.
So my friends, keep moving forward. You'll be blessed and have the experience of a lifetime!
You're worth it!