Are your fears holding you back?

When we leave our comfort zones and our usual surroundings, fear is a natural reaction. But just because we are afraid, it doesn’t mean we are in danger. And just because we feel calm, it doesn’t mean we are actually safe. And somewhere in between we have those fears that keep us at home, within the comfort zone, without any logical reason.

During my hike, there were many things to be afraid of if I had asked the general public: bears, wolves, high mountains, loneliness, men (if you are a woman), cold temperatures, bacteria in the water…. the list is long. And ironically, I had (and still have) to calm other people down that become afraid on my behalf.

Considering that it was a hike through Sweden in summertime, the only thing that IS actually dangerous for real is yourself and your risk awareness or lack thereof. Bears and wolves just don’t want to meet you, I meet far more potentially dangerous people any random day here in Stockholm than during my whole hike (I estimate the number of dangerous people during the hike to zero) and everything else such as weather, terrain and rivers is only dangerous if you take risks that are over your own capacity.

So was I afraid during my hike? Well, not like in “panicking”, but I was at unease several times, and  mainly connected to two situations:

  • The weather: I am afraid of thunderstorms and being on a mountain, this is actually a risk to consider. So those days where there was a risk of thunderstorms I decided to stay in valleys or indoors if possible. But I monitored the sky closely some days when I saw cumulonimbi forming – luckily they never reached me and I didn’t experience any thunderstorm during the hike
  • Camping close to a road: as a woman (my male colleagues hardly ever even thought about this) I chose to send my position in the morning when I camped close to roads. On the mountain this was never a problem. But being a woman with an open Instagram profile, and getting questionable messages every now and then, I just slept better if my position was not known to the general public those nights. Sad? Yes. But unfortunately this is what we are taught, and female fellow hikers reported similar concerns.

And then there is my fear of darkness. And that fear actually does hold me back from doing things, I have for instance cancelled solohikes around Stockholm as I realized how dark it would be to camp alone in a forest. While we of course need to be situation aware, there is nothing to fear in the darkness (especially not a rainy October night – who would go out in the forest such a nasty night anyways?), and my goal for this winter is to overcome this fear. Actually, when I bought my tent 5-6 years ago, my goal was to overcome my fear of the darkness. But it took me 5 years and a solohike of 1350km to finally sleep alone in my tent during dark season.

What I am afraid of? Murderer? Ghosts? Well, no… I am afraid to get scared… so basically my own fear is most likely to be the reason why I get scared. Logic? Hell no. But fears are not built on logic…

And I am proud that I did camp alone in Paradisets natural reserve a few weeks ago – mostly thanks to miscommunication, as I thought I would have company. But in the end it brought me out there equipped for camping and longing for an evening by the fire. And surprisingly enough, I felt mostly calm.

The night has so many beautiful things to offer. Stars, silence, moonlit landscapes and not to forget the aurora if one is lucky. And while all of these things are wonderful to enjoy in company, I cannot sit at home just because I didn’t find anyone to join me.

What are your fears and how do you handle them?

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Auriga captured during polar night in northern Norway (5 pm)

8 Replies to “Are your fears holding you back?”

  1. ser bara ett värre scneario framför mig som skulle kunna vara ett problem iom att jag ALLTID har hund med mig och det är om han på något sätt tränger ett vildsvin eller en älg.
    Varg och Lo finns ju också efter Sörmlandsleden där vi drar om kring oftast, men där är risken mindre…

    Har haft “gris-känning” några gånger vid Lanan i Tyresta och Lilla Horstjärnen efter Sörmlandsleden…känns lite spännande iom att hund och gris inte är varadras bästa kamrater…

    Att nån tvåbent skulle ställa till bekymmer för någon Stockholmsk skogstältare ser jag som rätt otroligt, den typen av busar härjar nog inte i skogen…mer troligt asfaltsdjungeln…

    (vilka bilder du tar !!! du krutar in den ena straffsparken efter den andra)

    ha’re !!

    1. Han man hunden kopplad borde man ju kunna undvika att något djur känner sig trängt gissar jag? Ofta kommer man ju inte så nära vilda djur.

      Pch huruvida människor med fel intentioner verkligen är i skogarna – som inte alltid är särskilt långt från bebyggelse – eller inte är ju inte helt relevant för just rädsla. Jag känner många kvinnliga äventyrare som är oroliga för just detta. Själv känner jag mig tryggare ju sämre vädret är – en regnig Novemberdag är man skyddad av vädrets ogästvänlighet om inte annat.

      Tack! Vad roligt att du gillar mina bilder!

      1. Ett vildsvin kan bli triggat/trängt av ett skall i fel ögonblick (inte ens en retad älg är lika känslig), så inte helt säkert att ett koppel löser det problemet även om jag alltid har hunden kopplad. Vi har också problemet nattetid då hund eller vildsvin känner av varann långt innan en trög husse behagar vakna. Så problemet finns och, du frågade…detta en tältande grågubbes största “fasa”…kopplad hund ja, men det räcker inte i alla lägen (1-0 till mig)

        Jag antar att du har en point där med närhet til bebyggelse och visst, det kan alltid bli fel annars skulle inte ordet “om” finnas…fel person kan alltid dyka upp närsomhelst och ibland kan oron över att just detta skall inträffa tilräcklig…rätt av dig (1-1)

        Dina bilder är i en klass för sig själva…as simple as that…(så, 1-2 till dig !!) ser fram mot nästa laddning bilder från ditt långtramp…

        Skrivet från stugan i Vålådalen…(jag har börjat underhålla en tråd på “utsidan” i ämnet, tanken är en daglig telefonbild)

        ha’re fint !!

        // P .

  2. A big nod to every sentence…
    I also got asked so many questions about being afraid and have been told so many times how “brave” I am to hike alone, both on the hike and afterwards. At one point it almost became a running gag for me. Why is it considered “brave” when a woman is out and about alone (especially in Scandinavia!), but with men it’s kind of taken for granted?
    I think I had only one situation when I was *really* afraid, and until now I cannot even tell you why. I wanted to take a pee behind an old and deserted gas station in Finland (and probably camp there, because there was a storm approaching), but when I went around the building, suddenly something felt SO wrong about this place that I had my wee well in sight of the road and then almost hurried on. I did not see or hear anything suspicious, but the feeling was so strong that I didn’t want to take any chances.
    When I am alone in the woods or a big city during “dangerous” times (i.e. night, although I agree that one probably meets a lot more and greater dangers during the day), I am always most afraid of other humans. Yes, bears and wolfs and wild boars can kill or severly hurt you, but when I think about what humans are able to do to other humans… I guess I’d rather meet a wolf.

    1. Wow, how scary to have such a feeling of fear, I wouldn’t have stayed there neither. Trusting instincts is a good thing I believe, I felt that I suddenly saw and felt things that I wouldn’t have realized before during my long hike. Like “invisible” paths and water sources… It was very interesting and made me feel a lot more secure.
      Interesting is also that on trail, nobody questioned me being female and solo. We are many on trail, female solohikers are almost as normal as male, and I experienced that we were all hikers on equal base out there. It was a great feeling!

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