7 minutes ago
before starting the O-trek, I expected to have the usual moments of panic and doubt that come with any outdoor challenge for me. during our most memorable hikes, I’ve stopped midway and crawled on all fours down a slope as Mike coaches my every move. my limbs shake, my eyes fill with tears, and Mike is always there, telling me I can do it. each time we venture further, pushing my fears that much more, reaching for the next goal. never have I regretted any minute of pushing those limits, because they always lead to our best experiences.
leading up to this 8 day / 130 km trek, the longest ever for me by far, I was confident that even if and when that fear of heights surfaced, we could conquer it together. except it never really did. the tears didn’t come when we balanced on a ledge a thousand meters above Grey Glacier, as the wind whipped around the corner. my legs didn’t shake as we scurried down the slope made of scree atop John Gardner Pass. the fear tried to take control as I balanced own body and my 35 lb pack across a rope bridge, swinging above a gorge. but I looked across the thunderous river to Mike, and he looked back at me, and I just kept walking right across.
six days in, the fear had an opportunity to take control. our heels were bloody, our clothes were all failing the ‘smell test’, and our legs shook from exhaustion on any steep descent. we arrived at our campsite for the night early, and the park ranger asked if we were going to make the extra 11km out and back climb up Valley de Frances. he didn’t even let us ponder it, instead saying, ‘today the conditions up there are not to be missed’. so we left the prospect of a recovery afternoon behind, and started the unexpectedly steep ascent. as we pulled ourselves up boulders, I realized that I wasn’t scared at all. in the past, I may have spent the climb wondering how I’d ever be able to make it back down. but instead, I spent this whole climb smiling - taking in the fresh air, the sparkle of sunlight through the trees, the glacier towering above us to the east and the mountains gazing down at down at us from the west. instead of feeling afraid, I felt alive.