Would You Follow Your Friends Off a Bridge?

Shrine RidgeLast week I was on my annual hiking trip to Vail, CO. It’s always a trip I enjoy and this year was no exception except for our hike to Shrine Ridge.

The problem wasn’t the trail; it was me.

It’s a fantastic hike. You start at 11,000 feet, climb to just over 12,000 and end on a summit with spectacular views. The path is hard-packed dirt, making it easy to walk. It’s a bit of a huff and puff climb for the last bit, but quite fun.

So far, so good.

When you get to the top there’s a seriously large rock formation across a valley. It’s amazing; worth the hike just to see it. The thing is, we were traveling with some friends and Lori is part mountain goat. Seriously.

As soon as I saw those rocks, I knew she’d be scampering down the steep valley wall and back up the other side to explore them. The thing I hadn’t expected was that her husband, bad knees and all, would take off after her and my husband would hop up and say, “I’m going too.”

Okay, what you need to know about me is I’m not a physical risk taker.

But in that minute all I could think of was that I had two choices. I could follow them into something that took me way out of my comfort zone and seemed more than a little risky. Or I could stay behind and end up back at the car having no idea where they were, when they’d be back or if someone got hurt. (That’s the neurotic, it’s too dangerous part of me ;-))

I chose to stay with the pack. At the moment it seemed like the better option. But I wasn’t happy about it.

After making it down to the valley and rambling around for awhile, we started climbing back up the wall of the valley towards the hiking path. About 20 feet from the top I got stuck. Totally and completely stuck. I was on a patch of loose dirt, couldn’t get a hand- or foot-hold on anything, and all I could do was stay crouched on all fours so I wouldn’t go tumbling down.

I did make it back to the path, fortunately unscathed with nothing more than a bruised ego, but I was pissed. At myself.

I’d backed myself into a corner by thinking I had two unacceptable choices and not hitting the pause button to give myself time to come up with other options. Truth is there was a perfectly good third choice … to simply ask what the meet-up plan was if I chose not to follow them.

Good reminder that there are always options … but you have to be willing to take a moment to think through them.

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