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Outside of the Comfort Zone


Oddly, I fell asleep at 20:30 last night, and woke up at 6:30 this morning. I usually don't sleep that much, but last night, I needed that much sleep, so sleep I did. With my late rise from bed, however, I needed to hustle to check out the trails that were literally right outside the back door, before I needed to work. I mean, how many times have I said I want to be close enough to trails such that I could walk out the back door and start climbing up? IDK, lost count.

So, on with the hiking boots and heart rate monitor, and out the door. "Go to the right!" Aunt Sonnie called out as I passed over the electrified fence. Okay then, not the path up, the path across, which seemed odd to me at the time, as I wanted to go up, and was asked to call her when I reached the summit. Sure. Okay. All these trails are unknown to me, have at it.

path through a forest
hill through a wood

I had originally intended to walk this trail being fully present. My aunt had told me about the bears (big!) and snakes (big!) around here, and cautioned me to be alert for both around here. I had recommended to V----- recently that when he go out for his Thinking Walk™ to stay off the phone, no music, no audiobooks, no podcasts, no pictures, just walk. I wanted to do the same for myself: go out, and just walk and think.

Turns out, when the simple thing is gone and you're getting old and want something to rely on, having a Keane song running loops in your head is not the best way to go for a Thinking Walk.

Wasn't long before I had done no thinking and, yep, lost the trail.

clearing in a wood

I eventually found the trail again and kept walking along it, feeling increasingly uncomfortable as I did so. This path was going around the mountain I wanted to be going up. The giant piles of poop I kept walking past weren't bear poop, were old, and were very large. I was going for a short walk, so carrying only water: no stick, no knife, no mace, no matches, no tourniquet, no Inreach. No, I wasn't far from civilization, wasn't far from where I had woken up that morning. I was, however, outside of both cell phone range and my comfort zone.

And when I heard movement that was at least human size, and wasn't me because I was standing still, I decided that nope, I was just fine turning back around. To my chagrin, I was gone less than half an hour.

more path through a woods

When I returned to my starting point, the trail outside the back yard, well, you know what? There was another trail going up. Maybe I'd be okay with that one.

It went up, and up and up, at an easy grade, nothing difficult, nothing worrisome. It quickly twisted around the rocks I had seen at the top of the hill when I was at bottom of the hill. Okay, this delighted me.

outcropping with the sun behind it

Still being cautious about bears and snakes, I walked along the very obvious path that wandered in a valley between two of the rock walls on this hill. There were trees with enough shade and coolness for me not to be hot in my usual overdressed self. Had I been on this trail many times before, this would have been a lovely hike. Instead, I walked into a pile of bear poop.

bear poop next to shoe for size

Wellllll, shit.


Do I go forward or turn around? I stood undecided, listening for any large sounds. I heard none, still undecided. Hello, edge of my comfort zone, let me walk right through you. I went ahead on the trail for a short bit before I realized, hey, I could actually TOUCH the bear poop, see if it was cool or not. So, I walked back, and poked the poop.

It was not only cold, it was also a bit dry. I was fine. Whoo! Back along the trail I went.

Until five minutes later, I walked into a pile of large animal bones.

Okay, nope. Nope nope nope. I turned around and walked back down the trail, over the electric fence, and into the house. Laughing a bit to myself, I showed my aunt what I had found. She poo-poo'd pretty much everything that had made me nervous. The poop looked old. The bones, pfft, those were from at least last season. The sounds? Likely a deer. Next time, call out hello!

Seriously, I want to be this woman when I grow up. She's amazing.

Tomorrow, I'm walking down the road and back up. That seems a better idea, if more boring.

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