Updated: May 24
On a sunny day in June 2014, I loaded my black lab, Monster, into my car and decided to explore one of the many trails I had bookmarked over the previous six months. New to Colorado, I was determined to hike in the beautiful, intimidating Rocky Mountains. But the excitement and anticipation of taking this step was tinged with nerves. On the drive to the trailhead, an article about a mountain lion attack that I'd come across in my research kept looping in my mind, filling me with an ominous sense of dread.
Despite the fear, I refused to give up on my dream. As I walked, I kept a sharp lookout for any sign of danger lurking in the bushes. About an hour into my hike, something blonde caught my eye. I froze, but then I saw it - a golden retriever, not the big cat I'd feared. Thankfully, the owner was a bit behind, and didn't see the initial petrified look on my face. By the time he came around the corner, I was giggling at my own nerves. At that moment, everything seemed to change. Suddenly I felt like I could conquer anything.
It's easy to sit at home and scroll through trail reviews, imagining what the experience might be like. But life isn't lived by imagining the ways it could be. It's lived by doing. Only by taking action - and embracing all the imperfections and challenges that come with it - can you blaze new trails and create the thrilling adventures that make life worth living.
After that experience, I kept hiking. I took bigger leaps and risks, moving from my first solo backpacking trip to an entire month long solo thru-hike of the Colorado Trail. And now, this summer, I'm heading out on an 8-day hut-to-hut hike through the Austrian Alps. Each time I took imperfect, unpolished action, it set the stage for the next step in my journey.
So if you're feeling that same mix of excitement and fear, remember this: it all starts with showing up. With just one step, one messy action, you can set yourself on a path to achieving greatness. Embrace the unknown and create the life you've always dreamed of.