Today, I wanted to share my fears about the trail. Yes, I do get asked those same questions all the time: "Are you going to carry a gun?" "What if a bear attacks you?" "Are you starting alone?" And yes, I am terrified of all those things, but no, I will not carry a gun. I thought it might be interesting to list all my fears here now and see how I feel about them at the end of my trip. I know some of these may seem a little ridiculous or stupid, but hey, these are just what I fear. I can't help it.
This might be silly, but all my life, I have feared all types of bugs. I apologize for these gross pics in your inbox, but that's exactly why I fear them. You're lucky I didn't post the ones of them on someone's skin--I suggest you probably don't google search those images. First of all, a black widow. I've never encountered one before and don't really know anything about them, but any spider that is poisonous pretty much terrifies me. Second, I've never seen a scorpion before, but damn those claws look deadly. Third, THE TICK. I'm pretty sure everyone fears the tick and would rather not let these things burrow their heads into your skin and suck out all the blood from your body and puff up into a gross looking bubble filled with your blood. But worst of all, they carry Lyme Disease. No further explanation needed. Fourth, I've grown up with fire ants in Texas, but I just still hate ants in general. I hate how they travel in huge packs and can crawl so fast onto your body before you have time to flick them off. And lastly, not just any mosquito, but a swarm of them. I've heard they can get pretty bad, so I'll be looking forward to using my first mosquito head net when I face my mosquito fear.
I've been hearing so many stories of the rodent infestation in Washington. The thought of them crawling on my tent or getting inside and picking at my hair/crawling on my body is quite frightening. And then the thought of people who get used to them being around all the time and just brush them off with their hands is also unfathomable to me right now.
This is probably the lamest of all my fears, but all my life, I've literally had a fear of odors. But what kind of odors you ask? Particularly the gross, sour, rotten, foul, smelly odors. This can range from armpit odor, to foot odor, to sweaty clothes and even that mildew odor. Is this weird? Maybe. Let me give you a little Asian history lesson. East Asians are born with fewer apocrine sweat glands than westerners--these are the glands that make you smell. It's not that we don't sweat, we just don't carry as much of the smelly glands as others do. Yes, I sometimes do smell in my pits, but it's typically only if I'm somewhere super hot for a long period of time. I used to always wear deodorant in Texas, but when I moved to the northwest, I stopped wearing deodorant because I barely sweat up here. And when I do, it's rare that I smell like BO. I also hate the smell of foot odor. It's NASTY. My feet almost never smell for some reason. But I had this terrible memory in college when my dorm mate came home one day from class, she took off her shoes in our tiny 7x7 room, and my nose literally started burning from the toxins released from her sweaty feet. I almost passed out and had to run out of the room. My life has never been the same. I also cannot stand the smell of wet clothes or laundry that has been sitting in the washer that wasn't thrown in the dryer. My nose is just VERY sensitive and I can't stand odors (first world problems/luxury). The other day, a homeless man walked by and immediately, I cringed. I knew I would smell just like him on the trail--I am officially ready to become immune to my own foul body odor.
4. THUNDER/LIGHTNING STORMS
No explanation here really. Who wouldn't be terrified of being stuck on a ridge during a storm?
KIND OF FEARS:
4. GETTING LOST
Since I lack any navigational skills, one of my biggest fears is also not knowing where I am. However, Halfmile, has some pretty good maps/apps for hikers that I feel ok about it. But maybe if my phone dies, the GPS won't work, so then I'd be pretty effed. You can never rely on technology, so I should maybe look into learning how to read a map and compass.
My animal fear has gone down quite a whole lot over the last year. Maybe it's because I finally saw my first bear last summer or just getting out on my own more and realizing that animals are more afraid of you than you are of them. But I have yet to run into an animal that's right on the trail in front of me, yikes. I figured I'll deal with it when I get to Kennedy Meadows.
6. RIVER CROSSINGS
I have read that there are some pretty gnarly river crossings on the trail, quite dangerous ones actually. For some reason I am not as worried about them as I am about the bugs, but I'll make sure to always cross with people or something.
I feel like I should be more afraid of rattlesnakes, but I think because I've never been around one, I don't really know what I'm in store for. Or maybe because I just hate bugs more.
And I think that's actually it. You can say some of these are quite irrational, but I have no shame here. It'll be interesting to see how most of these things will become the norm within just a few weeks: sleeping with rats on my head, constantly checking my body for ticks and ripping them right off when I do, learning how to take cover during a storm, all while smelling like a huge walking armpit.