What do you get when you take 35 strangers with varying levels of outdoors experience, lead them into the wilds of West Texas, and ask them to primitive camp on a trail that isn’t usually open to the public?
Pure mountain magic.
What should have been a logistical nightmare, ended up being one of the best experiences of my life.
For the past few years, I’ve had a mantra running through my head: “do the thing that scares you.” Since I was young, I’ve been terrified of falling. It didn’t matter if it was slipping down a mountain or the skating rink at the mall. My feet would tingle just watching movies with characters standing on high objects. I couldn’t even watch the scene in “Forrest Gump” when Jenny is about to jump from a high-rise without freaking out.
It’s taken several years; trips Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, a rock scramble up Old Rag Mountain, jumping across a narrow ledge; climbing down the Grand Canyon; a skydiving adventure in Salado; climbing out of the caves and up the side of Enchanted Rock; and lots of incremental day hikes to get where I am today.
Which is still terrified.
Climbing the Davis Mountains in West Texas was the first trip I didn’t feel so paralyzed by fear I couldn’t move my feet. When we reached the last peak at Mount Livermore, I was ready. I saw the rock scramble it would take to get to the summit at Baldy Peak. I saw the darkened sky and approaching lightning. I saw my own blistered, shaking knees.
And I climbed the damn thing.
Because as my good friend Risa from Cuba puts it, you have to “vencer el miedo.”
Conquer the fear. Life is waiting just above the jagged rocks and unpredictable skies. When I got to the top, I was surrounded by a swarm of ladybugs, an appropriate symbol as I was wearing my family’s Team Bugg shirt. I stared around for miles and chatted with my new friends. We had made it.
8,370 feet down. Miles and miles to go.