Nervous Is An Understatement
The thought of hiking in the Swiss Alps was absolutely intimidating to me. As an inexperienced hiker on the flattest terrain, I would definitely say I was a teeny bit nervous about hiking in one of the most impressive and dangerous mountain ranges in the world.
Here are a few takeaways I got from our hiking adventures in the Alps.
Respect That Nature
I feel I have a healthy fear and respect for the natural world. Whether mountains, forests, oceans, rivers, caves or anywhere for that matter, I’m always aware that nature is a powerful force. We need to respect our surroundings and not be naive about our vulnerability in these potentially risky situations.
If you’re not an experienced hiker, stick to the trails, bring a map, and make sure you give yourself enough time to get back before dark. Basic, but important when you’re out of your element completely.
Nature is a little intimidating sometimes, but I love to be out in it and try and push myself out of my comfort zone. In spite of my anxiety, I have gone cave spelunking, swam to a hidden beach through a cave tunnel, explored hanging bridges in the jungle, zip lined, and more. Was I a nervous wreck before every one of these activities? Mostly, but I didn’t let it stop me from having what I knew would be an amazing experience.
As always when i’m going “outdoors”, I had a backpack with me so well stocked it would put even a seasoned super mom to shame.
Snacks, water, extra water, bandaids, tissues, lip balm, extra clothes, hats, sunblock, I had it all. How many people were hiking? A family of 4? No, just my husband and myself. Needless to say we didn’t touch most of the items I brought along, but having them just made me feel ready for anything.
Don’t Overthink It
Impossible in the moment I know, but try not to think about the magnitude of the mountain range, the imminent danger, or potential issues that may arise.
Trust me, those thoughts were swirling around in my mind as we climbed the mountain side in a gondola...with a glass floor...so you can see the passing forest below (eeeeek).
I took some deep breaths, tried to take in the beauty, and remind myself that everything was going to be fine.
Just Keep Going
We planned on taking a gently winding path down the mountainside from the top of the gondola. As we aren’t seasoned hikers, we thought downhill would be easier and faster than an uphill climb. We were wrong.
The easy path down was more of a steep mountain biking trail and 4 hours of downhill, terrain really did a number on my feet, legs, and toenails in particular. I will spare you the photos of the aftermath with me feet. All I will say is, RIP toenails.
Even though I was miserable, anxious, and my feet were in agony, we HAD to keep going. We were one and a half hours into the 4 hour hike. The options were to turn back to the gondola and hike back, uphill retracing our steps. Option 2, keep going downhill, slowly killing our toenails for another 3 hours.
Down we went.
Brace Yourself for the Unexpected
One thing I was not ready for was how absolutely moved I was once we were finally in the mountains. I welled up more than once on our hikes.
The air, the views, the rolling fields of Swiss wildflowers, all nestled against and dwarfed by the massive snow peaked mountain range in the distance. I have never seen anything like it in my life and it took my breath away.
Taking time for deeply present moments during our hikes was a priority for me. I was so worried about conquering the hike and getting through it, that I wasn't prepared to be totally gobsmacked by the beauty.
Acknowledge Your Accomplishment
It may seem like no big deal to other people, for someone with anxiety, adventures like this are a big deal.
Take a moment to pat yourself on the back when you’re done an adventure like this. After our hikes, i took a long hot shower, stretched, and poured myself a glass of wine.
Even writing this post has been a great way to reflect on the journey and the accomplishment of facing fears in the name of adventure.
Rinse and Repeat
Looking back on our time in Switzerland, my absolutely terror over getting lost, breaking my leg, being stuck on the mountain overnight, it all seems a little silly.
As i’m sure most people can relate. Now that it’s over those nerves seems so unwarranted and ridiculous. I am working on not beating myself up for having felt those feelings at the time, and am instead trying to reflect and move forward. I am keeping these memories in mind as I move onto my next adventure.
How do you cope with stressful situations, whether travelling or not? Does packing 40 Band-Aids make you feel better too? Share your stories with me.
[Photo Credit for Image 4: Swiss Escape]