Earlier this week, someone asked me to write about ‘getting back up on the horse again after you have fallen’. I thought back to one of the greatest personal disappointments that I have gone through….a time when I was disappointed and let down by myself. Not another person, friend or family member, not a life circumstance or the conflicting belief system of someone I respect. Just me….letting down me.
I have always believed that a person can do anything on pure will alone and it was this will that led me to try hiking the 2,173 mile long Appalachian Trail. Dressed in my finest JunoActive clothing, I left home and started hauling my five foot tall, 262 pound body up and down the mountains of the A.T.
After six months and 600 miles, I found myself in New Hampshire. As the trail became steeper and harder, I never doubted myself once. I knew that I could do this!! So when I hit the White Mountains, you can imagine my surprise to find that I slowed to a snail’s pace, rocks and boulders forcing my short legs to take one giant step after another. Finally, the day came when I hiked for over 8 hours, only traveling 2.4 miles. I realized that I could not move fast enough. I did not have enough food to last me to the next resupply point. The strength of my will could not overcome the short fallings of my body. My will had failed me.
I left the AT on an unmarked trail and later found myself in a sterile hotel room. I lay on the bed, unable to even take a shower, immersed in a cloud of failure. It took me three days to get up the courage to get back out on the trail and three years of traveling, and hiking to chase most of the self-doubt and fear away. In the end, I decided to take my experience and create an organization to inspire women to get outdoors. That was seven years, ten chapters, 3,000+ members and three National conferences ago. So maybe it turns out that my will was enough after all. :)
As winter is drawing to a close and you feel the pull of spring to get out there and do something, keep these things in mind. Your body has limits, but your will is what will carry you on. And if you let it, that spark might just lead you down a completely unexpected path.