I have a secret that I feel this post will illustrate, a secret that makes me feel afraid of trails, backpacking and general camping stuff - a fear so great that I cannot even walk on well-worn trails into any mountains or hills in Southern California:
I am desperately afraid of mountain lions. I read some 'Drama in Real Life' Reader's Digest story about their attacks when I was still at a formative age and got mighty spooked. Add to that the news stories every so often of bikers and runners being taken down in the Santa Monica mountains or some arid state park.... yup. Gripping fear.
Today we went hiking about 1.5 miles into Armstrong Woods State Park, a gorgeous 45 minute drive from our home in Petaluma.
It was shadowy, nearly our body temperature outside (95, I believe it was) and stunningly beautiful. The trail did switchbacks up and up and up.... we laughed and talked as I shared and shed my fear, no other folks in sight, and on our descent I heard a rustle on the other side of the creek: I saw a tawny flank.....
it was a deer. I stood there trying to continue down the trail, legs rubbery, adrenaline pumping through my body in preparation for the imminent fight.... oh, what a moment!
Nearing the car another furry, large body could be seen off to the left side of the trail: a beautiful coyote turned to gaze warily at us as it headed off into the hillside. Again, the rush of hormones and secretions... again the realization that we are mere visitors into this gorgeous natural world.
To have gone directly to the source of my fear and found myself facing it several times made the day even more meaningful than I could have ever imagined it to be.
I feel a sense of awe and wonder at our adventures, slight as they were.
I faced my fear and went forward into life: I think that's the best we can do when we might miss out on beauty.