Sunday, January 3, 2010


Fear is a powerful emotion, one that can be both a blessing and curse depending on how much of a hold it has over your life.  For me, I have grown to become fearful of too many things - heights, speed, adventure, water..hell you name anything extreme and I would tell you I was not to keen on it.  But, as this blog says in the first post, I am trying to overcome these fear by pushing my limits.  I am only 28 years old, but sometimes feel like a broke down 80 year old woman who belongs in a nursing home surrounded by books.  Lets be real, life is to damn short to allow fear to cripple and choke the fun out of living.  So for this past New Years I wanted to do something different - something that would really test by boundaries and so I set off with Mike, Alex, and Vix to Snowdonia, Wales to climb a mountain...and guess what...I did it!

Well, I didn't make the summit - but baby steps man, baby steps.  We were able to reach 1,400 feet on Mount Snowdonia on a crisp sunny New Years Day morning.  The trail was busy with others partaking in the great conditions and trying to start a new year and decade off in style.  We also shared the trail the day with runners competing in a race - not sure how long but as I looked at runners young and old booking it across the lower part of the mountain I was both in awe and inspired.  So I pushed down my fears as we began to ascent to the summit. 

Scared shitless - that is all I can say.  I was scared shitless as we rounded a corner and I realized that the nice trail I was on for the first 1 1/2 hours was ending and the climbing needed to begin.  With the wintery snow blanketing the landscape the once well marked trail was now compressed snow - the remnants of previous hikers.  Vix and Alex made the ascent with little problems - making it half way up before I was even a third there.  Mike stayed behind, encouraging me to put one step in front of the other.  My head just raced with thoughts - "What if I fall?  What if this is how I die? Why in the hell did I think I want to climb mountains? Black people don't do this shit!"  You know normal stuff you might think as well. 

But climb I did, not looking back as I put one step in front of the other until finally both of my feet were on the ridge.  Alex and Vix gave me a high five and told me to look at how far I had come up.  I said no, preferring to keep my eyes straight ahead and allow my fear to suppress itself.  The summit was in sight, but the ground was turning more and more snowy - with ice accumulating along the way.  We had no crampons so walking in snow was making my legs tired and my back ache.  But we continued on, with me always trailing far in the back - afraid to walk too fast as I might slip and fall (down the hill is what I was thinking, but in reality every time I fell it was just into snow.  Really more of a bruised ego than anything else).  At around 1:30pm I asked a couple coming from the summit how much further - they said 45 minutes in tough conditions but well worth the trek.

Yet, that was not the day for me to reach the summit.  The sun was already at its highest point, preparing itself to sink slowly from the horizon.  Clouds were rolling in and we decided that being on that mountain in the dark was not a smart idea.  On their own Mike, Vix, and Alex could have easily made it up to the summit and back before dusk - but with me at the tail this was not an option I could or wanted to take.  I was happy with my progress and knew going down was going to be harder than coming up in the ice and snow.  So we made out descent, going down by another trail that left me falling on 3 different occasions into the powdery snow. 

But, I had a damn good time.  Even though I was slow, scared, tired, sore, and annoyed with the parents who thought it was a good idea to bring children on the side of a mountain and the flippin 12 person group who hogged the trail taking pictures in their jeans (ok that was digressing) I loved every minute of it.  I looked at my fear and said "Fuck you" and I am proud of that.  Once I made it up that hard climb Alex looked at me a said "Nikki (it's funny cause only my mom calls me that and so to hear a white British guy doing the same makes me laugh) didn't you say you wanted to climb a mountain on your 30th bday, well you already did so you might want to change that goal."  And you know what he is right, for my 30th bday I plan to summit a mountain in South America and I think I can get in physical and mental shape for that here in the good old UK.

Going back to fear - I am tired of it.  Just as I am tired of being a push-over (this will be talked about in my next post).  The new decade is one of new beginnings.  While I was on the side of that mountain trying to descend I did a lot of thinking.  Dreams that I have had I want to make reality. I don't know for sure what my career will be, but I am having second thoughts about academy as my only route.  Many of you know this but writing, politics, the outdoors, food, and family are taking over my thoughts more than grants, tenure, and publications.  Essentially life is taking over, not just career, and I am trying to wrap that around me head.  

Also, bullshit is coming out that I want to get rid of.  I am tired to being the "nice friend" who is always there for others, but does not get the same in return and you know what - that is my own fault for not seeing my own self worth.  So that mountain (and really the whole weekend as we hiked everyday) did more for me than just kick my ass and leave me falling asleep at the dinner table.  It got me thinking about what I really want to do with, and have in, my life.  Climbing that mountain made me come to terms with and climb out of my old shell - and for that I say thank you!  So, to a New Year and New Start, make this life what you want (God, now I sound like Oprah). 

Oh and for some reason I was singing this song the whole weekend - including while trying to climb so I thought I would share.


Amanda said...

Congrats Nicole! You are an awesome warrior and I'm inspired.

Meg said...

That is so beautiful!

Celeste said...

YAY! It's so amazing to me, every damn time I read this blog, when I remember what you were like when we first met at school and how far you've come. Just wonderful man. WONDERFUL!

And yes! Stop being nice! Give your heart and time to those who "earn" it. All you can do for the rest is wish them well on their journey.

That mountain is fierce. Very pretty. Yayyyyyyyyyyyy!