Black Butte - Part Two


When Barry asked me if I was okay, I said yes.

But I wasn't okay. I have been operating with this dull hum of anxiety in the background for the 40 hikes we have done since we started this tour and for every day of my life that I can remember. Inevitably, at some point, I freak out. Sometimes it's a little. Sometimes it's a lot. This felt like when I was sobbing in the saddle at Angels Landing. This felt like before I hiked the Trans-Catalina Trail the second time and wrote out my last words for folks in case I died on that journey. This felt like, well, it felt like shit and I was over it.

I stopped myself. Tears were streaming down my face, and I held them back. For a second I felt guilty, like I wasn't allowing myself to experience this emotion. Honestly, I was so over this and didn't feel like going full waterfall. Instead of assuming this mountain was trying to eat me alive, I paused.

"Everything can go right." I said out loud to myself. I wiped my eyes, wiped the snot from my face, and shook my hands out again. Once I could see, I continued hiking. We were so close to the summit.

"Everything can go right." I repeated it with each step, half telling myself what I already know, half convincing myself, pleading with this mountain to make it so. Over and over. I said this at least 100 times as we kept making our way over the rocks and boulders.

We finally reached the summit and it felt like a tornado was whipping through the boulder piles. I paused and took a deep breath.

"I am okay." I said to myself and the mountain. Barry was setting up the time-lapse and I was alone with my thoughts and the wind.

I asked the wind to take any remaining fears or doubts or concerns I had - about what we are building here, about my worthiness to do this work, about my capabilities as a woman, partner, hiker, writer, speaker. I felt the wind pick up even more, gusts pushing 40 mph. I visualized all of my anxiety drifting away. Taking deep breaths, I released my death grip on my tendency to assume disaster, and allowed the wind to take it.

Despite some of the stories I tell myself, I AM okay. And I have everything I need.