I like a little truth with my travel. So here it is. I’m in terrible shape. The story and psychology of how and why could end up being an entire novel, or a few pretty pennies on a couch of someone certified to make more sense of it than I can. So let’s just skip that part and talk about why this matters. The world is full of super amazing stuff. And you can’t always take an elevator to get there.
When you travel, there are many things that are easy to get to. Drive your car right to the parking lot and look out over the viewpoint. Take the elevator to the top floor (looking at you, Eiffel Tower). Hop on the metro and get off a few blocks away. Every town square is central, and most key tourist attractions have made themselves pretty accessible. Lots of people see these things because a) they are awesome and b) they are easy enough to get to.
Then there is the stuff that isn’t so easy to get to. It could mean 4x4ing to the top of a mountain, or up an unknown logging road (or in an area without roads at all). You may need to hike in to somewhere more remote (most waterfalls require a little more effort than Niagara to access). You may need to take your car down a one way road to nowhere while your GPS scolds you as you drive through 2 rivers. But usually when you do, you end up finding yourself a little piece of heaven. And you have it all to yourself. And it’s almost always worth it.
And of course, there is the stuff in the middle. The 500 steps to the top of a monument, or the “short” hike down into a valley for a stellar view. These tasks may be easy for some, but are a real challenge for others. And by others, I mean me.
When I travel, I find myself often having to make a choice, about the tasks I can do, the tasks I can’t, and the areas in which I can challenge myself. In the last decade I have missed out on more things than I would like to count, because they were just out of my reach. And sometimes I push myself, take a risk, or try something a little more challenging. And I’m always happy I did. I wrote about this once, when I managed to survive Uncle Tom’s Trail, and when I made it to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
Long intro. I know. Let me get to the point.
I seem to travel a lot with people that are much more capable than I am. And this leaves me with much anxiety, and insecurity, and shame – the worry about holding them back. Being the odd one out. And the thing is – I WANT to see all these amazing things. I mean, come on! Traveller. Lover of Nature. Photographer. There is no lack of desire. But there sure as hell is a lot of fear. So when people say things like “we could go to this trail” I immediately begin to panic.
Enter: Wild Pacific trail.
I heard is was pretty. I wanted to do it. Seemed like a reasonable length. But, often what is dubbed “easy” by an online hiking site is anything but for me.
But I was going to try anyway. Because I was with good people. And I was safe to try it.
And it was good. Nicely maintained trail. Minor hills that would be nothing to most but were a little effort for me. But not impossible by any means. There was some sweat. I stopped a fair number of times – but more for photos than my inability to put one foot in front of the other. I remembered to bring my water, and drank it responsibly (this is often a problem for me…I’ll have story about this later when I get to my tale of Pololu Valley). And when I got back to the car – I took a deep breath, and I smiled. And I was grateful. Nature has no responsibility to make itself accessible to me (and in fact, it’s probably best for the world is most of it isn’t…though I have to wonder if more people spent time outside among the trees and the waves and the mountains, maybe they would show the earth a little more love); but the Wild Pacific Trail was inviting me in. Making the wild accessible – even if just a little corner, for a few kilometres. I walked through rich green forests, dark under the well grown canopy. I walked past stunning ocean vistas. I shared the views with the best of friends. And I got to watch it all through the eyes of a child. If you haven’t watched a six-year-old truly take in the ocean for the first time, you have missed out. There is no wonder like the wonder of a child. Getting to watch Amelia (who I call my niece though technically isn’t, but is close enough – and hey – who gets to define what makes family anyway) watch the ocean in complete awe at every turn – well – that just added to the reward for my effort.
The Wild Pacific Trail was just another reminder that, with the right supports, taking a risk definitely pays off. We are often much more capable than we imagine – if only we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt.