Overcoming your fears in the Wilderness

I can’t exactly tell you how to overcome your fears in the wilderness, but I can explain to you my story and how I deal with my fears.
I’m probably one of the most afraid, nerve-shaken people on this planet. I still get scared during Disney movies and I’m almost 30. The part in Lion King when Mufassa gets thrown off the ledge. Yeah, I still close my eyes during that part.

But with these fears, I also have my most desired and treasured hobby in the world, hiking and backpacking. For all my life, this was my favorite thing to do. It made me most happy and made me feel most alive. Still does! But unfortunately, this also brings an undesired trait with it, fear.

I have been an avid hiker and backpacker for over a decade now. Exploring more of the US and what the wilderness has to offer than most, and I am incredibly grateful for that. I do not come from anything or money to have made this happen. What made this happen was my own ambition and hard-work in order to explore the world. Being able to travel as often as I do, brings me to the wilderness quite often and for the most part, alone.

When I backpack alone or even with people, I tend to get really fearful of the wilderness. Especially at night! Every noise in the woods makes me quiver and my brain spirals out of control of what is out there and what could happen to me. I have spent countless nights wide awake all night long shaking in my tent or even crying for that matter. That’s how fearful I get. No exaggeration. That’s how I know, if I can do it, you can do it.

What I do is just not stop. Simple as that. I don’t give up my love for the wild because I am afraid. When I am on a backpacking trip, the first night tends to be the hardest. Then the second night gets better and by the third night, I’m so exhausted I sleep like a rock. If you are only going for a one-nighter and you are so afraid you don’t sleep, catch up on sleep when you are home.

Don’t let fear stop you from enjoying the wild. Life is too short and anything can happen to you at any given time. Can something happen to you while you are out in the wild? Yes. Can something happen to you walking around your own neighborhood? Yes, and assuming you are in a relatively safe neighborhood, the chances of either happening are probably around the same odds.

For most people, it tends to get easier and the first night is the hardest. For me, ten years later I still get nervous and scared being out in the woods by myself, but I still do it. I still get myself out there no matter how afraid I am. I’ve backpacked through grizzly territory alone and I will do it again because it makes me happy and every time I come back, I feel even more alive.

Statistics are, you are more safe in groups out in the wild rather than solo, but there are plenty of occasions where even in groups people get hurt from either weather, an animal, or whatever it is. You just never know and I guess when it’s your time it’s your time.

This doesn’t even have to pertain to hiking anymore. No matter what your passion is make sure you live it. You will regret it if you don’t. There is danger in every aspect in your life. You can be sitting at home fearful of going outside and a robber can come into your house and kill you. So don’t be afraid or be afraid, that’s on you. Just get your butt wherever it is you want to go! I can’t tell you not to live your life in fear because I do so that would be contradictory of me. But what I can tell you is don’t let fear control your life and don’t let that fear stop you!

If you need extra aide in getting yourself out there, then do just that. I bring music with me. It keeps my brain distracted and it calms me down. If I didn’t have music with me, I probably wouldn’t go solo. If you can think of something to calm your nerves down, do it. Yoga before bed, reading a book in your tent, writing your thoughts down in your journal. Try to keep your brain busy when you are most fearful. That will help tremendously!

Also it helps making sure your safety is protected by bringing a knife, bear spray, a whistle, etc. Bring what ever you feel is necessary to feel safe and be safe!

If you are up for a good read, Wilderness and the American Mind is amazing! It explains the American history for the wilderness and how american’s perceived the wilderness since they came over from the “old world.” It’s a pretty dry read but I learned so much from this book!

I hope this helped and thank you for reading. If you have something to say, make sure you write it in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you would have to say.



By | 2018-01-12T00:32:05+00:00 December 5th, 2017|All Blog Entries, Fears + Motivation, Resources, Wildlife - what to do|3 Comments

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Shelly! A traveler, hiker and an outdoor enthusiast. My dream my whole life was to travel, so I stopped dreaming and started doing. I quit my job and I am currently doing whatever it takes to keep going. I'll pick up jobs along the way and do what it takes to keep being a full-time traveler! I can prove that you don't need to come from money or anywhere special to live your dream. You just have to have the power of your own life to finally say YES!


  1. Eddie December 5, 2017 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    Hmmmm…. I like the idea of the music Shelly… definitely something I will consider next time out. Yes fear has a way of trying to sneak in our minds .. to hinder us from our passions and hobbies we love. In heavy bear country I still battle with the sounds at night or the howls from far away.. I tend to keep a fire going thru the night to keep the critters away.. lol. Yes I agree we can’t let it keep us down. . Happy trails my friend and peace be with you and to all my fellow free spirits in the back country !!

    Eddie Z

  2. Eddie December 5, 2017 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    I forgot to mention my biggest weapon to battle the fear for me is prayer .. That God will watch over my steps and protection along the way.

  3. Jack Cochran December 5, 2017 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    Gymnastics people. Take gymnastic classes and knife training and you’ll never worry about being in the wilderness again. You need to learn how to move like an animal and be strong like an animal.
    If you can’t do 20 pull-ups at one time then you should not be out in the wilderness. The number one survival exercise is being able to pull yourself UP. Whether you’re trapped in quicksand, water or vegetation…all of which I have been trapped a few times, you need to be able to bring yourself out of it.
    I take classes in gymnastics and pilates and I do knife training once a year…I’m 50 years old and can still run up a mountain trail nonstop for 5 miles.
    Because everyone who is a pro and has done the outside thing as a profession knows that if you cannot do the above then all you are is; Food. You’re just food sitting in a tent to every animal. You’re basically a piece of meat in a wrapper.
    Aside from watching a bear maul and then eat a grown man I’ve been followed by bears…multiple times. I’ve seen small coyotes take down two grown men; at the same time. I’ve seen deer attack people on several occasion…and once to my own person.
    It’s wild out there but you needn’t be afraid, just prepared.
    Knife training is inexpensive and easy to learn…and sorta fun. I’m not any type of guru with weapons but I figure if you know how to handle a knife in a desperate situation you’ve solved half of your problems.
    My apologies for rambling but this is an interesting subject. I do survival training every year out in the wild by my lonesome and it’s a form of meditation for me. But after being followed by a bear for 3 days in Oregon 22 years ago I decided I wanted to prepare myself better. He wouldn’t let me eat or sleep…I only got away because I dove off a cliff into a lake and swam across the entire lake. I almost died in that lake.
    But alas…

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