The Only Strategy You’ll Need to Survive Anything, Ever
Over the weekend, I took my first actual backcountry backpacking trip. My cohorts and I have done our fair share of day hikes and tent camping. But to pack up and carry on our backs everything we needed for our survival (and enjoyment): this was a first.
I was nervous.
We whittled down to a bare minimum what we’d need for a winter weekend in the mountains of NC, strategically assembled it all into our packs, and set out for our trek.
The first 5 miles through the woods were relatively uneventful: up some hills, down some hills, across some creeks. Our banter and good spirits had us moving jauntily along.
Then, this: the trail stopped. To be more specific, the trail stopped, and continued on the other side of a tumultuously flowing river.
Point A: Trail.
Point B: Other Side of the Trail.
In between: Turbulent, Frigid Water.
Perhaps for some, this challenge would have been enough to cause us to stop, turn around, and call it a day. We did not even entertain this option. We had someplace to be (our campsite), and we were bound and determined to get there. Our destination was on the other side of that river, and come hell or high water (literally), we were getting across.
The only way to get to the other side of the river, where the promise of a campfire, a warm meal, and getting those packs off our backs awaited, was… across the river. After considering our options, we elected to shimmy along a thick tree that had fallen across to the opposite bank, one by one, gear and all. Was it scary? F*ck yes, it was scary. I had to regularly remind myself to breathe, and was cursing more words than not.
And? I made it across. In fact, we all did. Why? Because we chose to. Because making it to the other side mattered more to us than the intimidation of the task at hand. This is what I learned:
There is no magic trick. There is no knight in shining armor waiting around the corner to save the day. Avoidance doesn’t work. Getting mad and blaming other people doesn’t work. Not even wishing or hoping ourselves to the other side works. The only way to the other side of absolutely any challenge… a heartache, a disappointment, an injury, a daunting professional challenge … is to simply take a deep breath, mutter some curse words (and maybe a prayer or two), and get yourself to the other side.