I was halfway up Mt. Katahdin when I decided I’d had enough. I told my dad I needed a break, sat down on a rock and promptly started crying. Completely taken aback, my dad asked, “Kath, what’s wrong?” “Dad, I really don’t like this. I’m really afraid of heights.” “You’re scared? But I thought you liked heights; you’ve been paragliding!”
Let me back up. In August, I went home to Maine for a vacation, and my dad and I had planned a camping and hiking trip to Baxter State Park so we could hike Mt. Katahdin. I’d been inspired by A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, and wanted to hike part of the Appalachian Trail. Plus, I love camping but don’t have any equipment – or friends who like to do it. My dad, however, is Mr. L.L. Bean and loves the outdoors; it was easy to get him to go with me.
The morning of our hike, we got up early and were on the trail by 7:30. It started off just fine. There was a pretty waterfall to look at, and the trail wasn’t too steep. However, everything changed once we broke the trees – that’s when the rock climbing began. The rocks were jagged, narrow, and also on a ledge, so if you slipped you were going over the edge. And, my dad told me, this part of the hike lasted about 2.5 miles, so it wasn’t going to be over soon.
Now, I consider myself a pretty adventurous person, but it’s important to know that I don’t like heights. At all. Sometimes I pretend that I’m ok with them, and do crazy things like go paragliding, but I’m really just pretending to be brave to save face.
So there I was, terrified on a mountain in Maine, trying to convince myself I’d be ok when all I wanted was for a helicopter to come pick me up and safely deposit me at our campsite. Two things kept me going. First, the thought that hey, my dad likes me and probably wouldn’t have me do something that he thought would kill me. Second, and maybe more powerful, was a family with two young boys that were hiking around us. The youngest was practically jumping over the rocks and showed no fear; the idea of a seven-year-old beating me was too embarrassing! I reluctantly picked myself up and started climbing again.
The hike was beautiful, especially the view at the top. Unfortunately, I was so freaked out and focused on getting off the mountain that I hardly took any pictures 😦 The ones I took are pretty ominous though, which helps prove that it was a scary experience!
Surprisingly, going down was better than going up, but not by much. Definitely had a few more freak out moments, and was ecstatic when it was all over. From start to finish, it took us 8.5 hours to hike the Katahdin Stream trail. I was sore for days! The next day, we met my mom and sister and spent a few days on Monhegan Island, and while we did go hiking there too, I’m happy to say it was nothing like Katahdin!
The hike was 100% out of my comfort zone. I’m glad I did it, and even have a “I climbed Mt. Katahdin” sticker to commemorate the experience, but I have zero desire to ever set foot on that mountain again!
Have you ever had a similar experience? Maybe not with hiking, but something that was so out of your comfort zone that you didn’t think you could do it?