I get asked this all the time of course but when I returned to signal after a few days of isolation walking the East coast trail in Newfoundland, I received a message from someone asking why I take on these trips and why I take to them alone – in general it is because I have found that adventure has a way of changing a person but I thought It would be apt to answer this question more specifically in context to the last few days.
Sunlight shining through the doorway brought a new atmosphere to the woods that were so dark just hours before. I would never have done this a few years ago (camp alone in the forest), I do still notice the branches snapping around the tent at night, I sense something out there in the darkness, I still feel vulnerable.
Although I am now content on sleeping alone in the woods, it can still feel daunting but ironically it has been my favourite part of this short adventure to notice all these same fears are present because it is then I also realize that these feelings no longer control the outcome anymore.
Instead they prompt me to think deeper about the fear and they prompt me to move forward, to keep going.
I met another camper in the woods called Lucas, we had a chat about the trail, gear and where we came from. We spoke for just ten minutes so I was devastated to feel emotional when we went our separate ways – I didn’t want him to leave. Later that day I felt just as devastated to notice how my spirits soared just to see the remnants of a fire “SOMEBODY ELSE IS OUT HERE”. It was a particularly long stretch of unforgiving terrain but it seemed I was no longer hiking the East Coast Trail, no I was marching for survival. As with the many deserts I cycled last year in Africa, it got to the point where I just wanted out of this forest, I didn’t want to be alone anymore – I wanted to sit down with a cup of tea and watch tv… I don’t even drink tea!
I truly savour these journeys into the outdoors but as darkness falls again and I look out across the bay to lights in the distance, it’s clear that the lessons I learn on them are always more important than what I “achieve” or what I see.
You see, my deepest fear is not of the woods or what’s lurking outside the tent, it’s not the moose, the marsh or the terrain.
My deepest fear is of being alone and solo adventures remind me of this. I do these trips because they have an acute way of refreshing my mind of what’s important and they help me to overcome the fears that have stopped me moving forward in the past.
As I said before, adventure changes you and the question as to why I take these trips is another reminder of how it changed me:
I am now searching for reasons why I do these things instead of wondering for the many reasons as to why I cannot.