Day 16: A Rock Climbing Legend Helped Me Overcome My Fear of the Dark

This is Day 16 of the 31 day series on “How backpacking has enriched my daily life.” I expected lightweight backpacking to be a hobby. Instead it has transformed me for the better.

Back in 2014, I covered 2,600 miles over 28 days on my Suzuki SV1000 motorcycle. The theme for the road trip was to face my fears: of not having an itinerary, possibly being attacked by wild animals, camping solo and of the dark… I didn’t want fear to make decisions for me, so I intentionally did the things that scared me. By the end of the road trip my fear was less intense, but still present. I’m a work in progress.

Then a few years later I moved to Yosemite where I lived and worked in Yosemite Valley. I would get off work late and I’d have to wait for the shuttle bus to take me back to the dorms, because I was too afraid to walk the mile in the dark alone, even with a flashlight.

The pivitol moment for getting over a big chunk of my fear of the dark was after I attended a presentation by world famous rock climber Ron Kauk. In his documentary called Return to Balance: A Climber’s Journey, he recommended to focus on being grateful for all living things, that way there wouldn’t be room in your heart for fear. After the presentation I tested out his idea and I tried walking home alone in the dark. Whenever the shadows started to spook me, I’d tell myself that I was thankful for all living things: be it the spooky trees or the mountain lions. I not only walked by myself to the dorms, but I also didn’t use a flashlight! Having the right mind set it key! Thank you Mr. Kauk for your words of wisdom.

Every time I go backpacking or camping I push myself to become a more confident woman. I’m still nervous every time I sleep alone outside. In fact, I still haven’t gone on a solo backpacking trip. Twice now I’ve tried to go on a solo trip, only to have other backpackers that I met on trail decide to camp out where I had pitched my tent. I must admit that I was very grateful for the company!

The confidence to face my fear of the dark has spilled over to other areas of my life, like how I carry myself and my interactions with people. I’m also less nervous around town, like when I’m walking to my car at night. I look forward to seeing how much more I’ll continue to grow with my trust in others and for the unknown.

And for more engaging reading…

For the entire month of October I’ll be daily posting about, “How backpacking has enriched my daily life.” Go here to see the Table of Contents.


Day 15 – Don’t Feel Deprived: 27 Delicious Gluten Free Snacks

Day 17 – Boy Scouts isn’t Just For Boys- Anyone Can Study the Skills from the Merit Badge Books