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[at-l] fear on the trail

Kurt Kirsch wrote:

So, if my knee and money are my standard answer (for going home) , what is,
in fact the TRUTH?  Fear.  Ugly word isn't it, but I really was afraid. 
I've always have found it hard to ask for help, because I hate to feel
obligated.  Pride.  So, there's the truth: fear and pride.
Your post rang a real bell for me.  I have the same kind of stiff necked
pride.  It has hurt me more than once, mostly in ways I barely recognized at
the time.  When I did the trail in 1988, an incident occured which I can't
(and don't want to) forget.  I was in Maine, crawling over some rocks in a
cold drizzle.  A couple passed me and offered me a hand to get down off the
rocks.  Being proud, and with an attitude of "please mother, I can do it
myself!", I refused their assistance.  (To be honest, I didn't need it, but
it was nice of them to offer.)  He said, "If you can't accept help, you will
have a very lonely life."    That has stayed with me -- clear and true.  

I still have a hard time with asking for help for fear of appearing weak or
incompetent, but I have a lot more awareness of when it is appropriate and
when it isn't.  Knowing I have a problem with it hasn't helped me to resolve
the problem, unfortunately. 

I don't know what specifically you were afraid of last year.  In 1988 I was
terrified of the rock scrambling.  I did not think I could do the Whites. 
One place in Pennsylvania had me paralyzed for about 10 minutes, unable to
move forward even though the path was clear before me.  (I went back after
finishing the trail and found that after the Whites, the Knife Edge was a
cake walk.)  Although I believed I wouldn't finish the trail, I decided to
just keep going as far as I could, and then turn back if it got too bad.  I
remembered the many unlikely hikers, Bill Irwin, Crutches, my 60 year old
friend Hope who thruhiked even though she was only 5' and about 90 lbs. (
She could only carry about 25 lbs.  She did it by not carrying enough food.)
  I thought, if they can do it, maybe I can do it too.  So one day at a
time, one step at a time, I kept going.  I discovered that everything I had
ever heard about the Whites was true - but they are doable.  Not easy, but
they can be done.  And they are beautiful. 

I do understand about wanting to go back, about feeling like the trail is
more home than home is.  After both thru-hikes, if I had had the money, I
would have yo-yoed, despite my bad knees.  It is an incomparable experience.
 That's why we are planning our next long hike.  It will take two more years
before we have the money and ability to do the CDT, and it is driving me
crazy to have to wait, but we want it to be a good hike, so if we have to
wait, we'll wait.   When the time is right, we'll be out there.

Ginny "Spirit Walker" Owen
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