Thursday, January 16, 2014

We Carry Our Fears

It's a pretty common saying in the hiker community: "we pack for our fears", or, we carry them with us. I think it applies to any kind of trip we do: what we put in our running hydration vests, what we pack in our carry-on. What this means is, we place in our baggage things to combat that which we are most afraid.

Afraid of getting lost and having ravens eat your corpse? These people pack plenty of maps, compasses, and GPS units.

Some people are afraid of cold, so they pack many layers. Others fear running out of food, or water, so they compensate by loading themselves down. Still others worry about having the right stuff, so they bring items that will cover every possible situation. Some panic about wild animals or wild people, so they bring guns. Some fear the loss of being connected, so they pack phones, Ipads, and SPOTs.

My fears have changed over the years. In Alaska, it was getting rain-soaked, because once you were it was a fight for survival. In my kayak I packed an assortment of types of rain gear: light breathable to full-on rubber. In contrast, my work partner wore a big old wool sweater and shrugged off the downpour.
A rare sunny day below Mount Ada, but you can bet I'm packing rain gear.

 For a long time, the Great Starvation Trip of 1995 haunted me and I packed more food than a person could possibly ever eat. Years of bringing the same tuna and cereal home uneaten finally convinced me that I would survive with less.

Same with being cold.  Even though I am colder than most people I don't seem to pack for it. It doesn't escalate to a fear (though maybe it should).

There's always fire (where the environment can handle it)
So what's the fear I carry? Foot problems. I've been sidelined by plantar fasciitis and plagued on occasion by tear-inducing blisters. I compensate by carrying the biggest blister kit known to man, even on the trail runs where I bring a hydration vest (not often, because I camel up, but sometimes when it's hot). I carry NuSkin. I carry bandages. I carry blister cushions and pads. I carry a needle for sterilizing and draining. I wear expensive insoles and make sure the camp shoes I bring could be used for hiking out, if necessary.

What fear do you carry?
I'm scared I'm going to give in and get this puppy and my husband will kill me. Look at the ears. So adorable.


  1. Provokes some thinking to do about fears. As for the ADORABLE puppy, maybe if there were already 3 (BIG) dogs and 3 cats between you and the husband.....:-)

  2. I wonder if you overcame your final fear? The look on the face certainly says 'please take me home!'

  3. I carry lots of EmergenC and Airborne, plus hand sanitizer. I'm paranoid about getting sick on a trip, or right before a trip.

  4. I carry a first aid kit that is mostly a foot survival kit and ibuprofen. I also carry two pairs of earplugs (but never two pairs of socks/gloves/etc) because this girl needs her zzzzzzs above pretty much everything else.

  5. Some people are afraid of cold, so they pack many layers..............
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  6. I'm afraid of pretty much all of these things. Thus, yeah ... backpacks make great security blankets. :-)

    Really, I've gotten a lot better over the years about minimizing stuff on day trips and races. But I still think it's impossible to carry the exact perfect amount of gear for both acceptable comfort and minimum possible weight, all the time. You never know exactly what conditions or difficulties you'll encounter, so you'll invariably either end up carrying gear you don't need, or leaving behind something you really wished you had. Those who claim that one or the other never happens, I strongly suspect of lying.

  7. The pup is so sweet, I would probably just give in to that fear!
    As for me I tend to worry more about my 3 dogs comfort more then myself.
    They have dog packs and carry their own food, but I always carry a couple of blankets for them.... Just in case they get cold at night while they sleep in the tent beside me, on top of our laid out crazy creek chairs, and half way on top of my pad and down sleeping bag... :-) They are my buddies...

    1. our dogs often have THEIR OWN TENT! (a megamid).

  8. Definitely insulation. I am so miserable when I'm cold.


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