These two words describe my feelings as my 9-year-old and I prepare to backpack for several weeks along the Superior Hiking Trail.
70 MPH gusts of wind and rain, for one. Duluth just experienced a severe thunderstorm that blew down trees like they were toothpicks. Would our ultralight tent withstand such strong gusts of wind? Would it leak and would we be wet, cold, and scared? Worse, what if a tree fell on us?
Until last night’s storm, I was most worried about our physical and mental ability to undertake a multi-week hike. Daley just turned 9, after all.
As for me, I have a list of physical aliments such as the disk I bulged in my lower back while 8 months pregnant and a severe shoulder injury when I fell going downhill while cross-country skiing.
Oh, and before preparing for this trip, I’d never pitched a tent or lit a camp stove.
Perhaps more importantly, I really like sleeping in my own bed.
- Can I sleep sardined in a tent on the hard ground every night?
- Can I wear the same stinky clothes for days on end?
- Can I go without a shower for more than a week?
- Can I withstand the physical pain of a sore bunion?
Needless to say, I have some reservations. Though not about the actual hiking. I love hiking. It’s the carrying the extra pounds of a backpack while hiking that causes me to pause.
Can I do it?, I asked Tim.
He responded, “You carried extra pounds around for months when you were pregnant. And you GAVE BIRTH. You can do ANYTHING!”
Then last night when I was feeling pumped up, I woke up in the middle of the night. It was pitch black outside. My heart started to beat faster. I realized I would be in the woods with my 9-year-old son with only a thin piece of fabric between us and whatever else was outside in the dead of night.
To be clear, it’s not bears that I am afraid of. They don’t want to hang around us as much as we don’t want to hang around them (at least I hope). The visions that go through my head are of creepers…the two-legged kind. I can easily conjure up the newspaper headline.
Again, I told Tim about my reservations. His response: you are safer out in the woods than walking in town.
I didn’t get the same satisfaction from this answer.
At the same time these fears bubble up, I feel great excitement for the moment Tim and Finley drop us off at the northern most point of the trail near the Canadian border. I can’t think of a better way to spend time with my 9-year-old son who deeply loves to be outdoors and industrious.
When we first started talking about the idea of a long-distance hike, he said with confidence, “Mom, I’ll have to teach you how to build a campfire, how to hoist a bear bag, how to set up the tent.”
(For more blog entries on our SHT adventure, see this list).
Have you ever taken on an outdoor challenge? Share your experiences in the comment box below. Thanks!