Facing the Peak of Fear by Shyla Ann
Shyla is 20 years old and has a deep love for adventure. She has a passion for writing and inspiring people through her words and loves being able to use her blog as a place to share personal moments and experiences, along with outdoor tips and photos.
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Have you ever wanted to do something but fear got in the way? And then you live with regret of not doing it? This is the year I decided to face my fears, and say goodbye to regret. I want to do things that scare me and push me beyond my limits. I want to inspire others to follow this journey with me. Use me for example, you see my photos and adventures, I mean I love hiking, and skiing, and climbing but that does not take away my fear of heights.
I tagged along with some friends for a spring break trip to Zion National Park in Utah. The goal was to hike for a few days and experience this place in real life. So we did, and I want to share the thrilling lessons and experiences I took away from this place, that will live with me and many others forever.
When you walk through this place, you look up around you, and everything seems as if it is burning. Nothing is actually on fire, that is a metaphor. As you explore this place, you get this burning feeling of ambition. This place is surrounded with hot air and sandy red cliffs blocking out everything else. Our first hike was up Hidden Canyon, we decided to do this one first, since it was shorter and a good warm up before Angels Landing. It was tough, and the incline really kicked our butt first day.
When we got back to the hotel, I started feeling anxious about the Angels Landing hike. I watched YouTube videos and looked at Instagram photos, hoping that would make me feel better (do not recommend) but hey lesson learned and my friends almost threw my phone.
Well my friends, it is bright and early, about 6 am and we are grabbing some breakfast and making our way to the park early. Trying to beat the blazing hot sun, and heavy crowd, knowing will be up on steep traverses for awhile before we start the intense climb. We finally reached the trailhead and my body is already sweating, and I feel like I have to pee the entire time but really I am just terrified of doing this.
I find myself naturally encouraging others on the same path, and this gives me a bit of relief knowing that I am making them feel like champions. It helps me push myself, and keep beating my thought of fear. I like to think of fear like this.. when you walk into a situation with someone you love, you do not just give up or walk away from it. You need closing and to finish it, so you can see what lies ahead. An opportunity that seemed impossible once.
I find myself walking fast and I am not sure if it was because I was in better shape than normal or if it was me just wanting to conquer something I would not have years ago. Which was exciting and scary as hell, all at the same time. When I finally reached the top of those switchbacks, the sun was rising, and my soul was lighting up.
I took a moment to just look, and really be there with myself and see my surroundings. I have never been this high up on a mountain before. What am I thinking? This is insane. I kept walking faster than normal. Just wanting to get to the scariest part, before it was packed.
I finally was on my way up, holding on to those chains for dear life with two massive drop offs on both sides. Why would I want to start this climb already and not wait a few minutes? Sounds a little crazy, but I knew if I stayed and just looked at it from afar, I would of gotten into my own head and scared myself more.
As soon as I started the actual chain grabbing, I have never held on so tight to something. I kept saying to myself “hold on to the chains” and focus on each step. My life seemed so valuable and so precious, like that wow feeling of being alive. A lot of moments I felt like my hands were slipping and I was going to turn around, but the encouragement of others and myself cheering them on, is what drove not only myself, but everybody else to keep hanging on.
I met so many people, in the exact same position as me, which was refreshing, knowing I am not doing this alone even if it felt like it was only me on this cliff. Many of us are taking this big risk, and conquering our fear. I met people from all over the world. Ages from nine year olds to fifty year olds. To parents carrying their babies, and a man hiking barefoot. I mean I am talking over one hundred people climbing up this, and lot of times we would have to pull over to the side. Many people would be coming down, while the rest of us are going up. I would generously give my hand out to help people down. Giving them guidance, even though I am on one edge of the cliff gripping as tight as I can to that chain.
Those peoples lives mattered, just as mine did in that exact moment. When we finally reached the last few steps before the top, I could feel so many emotions caving into my body. It was the most freeing moment knowing I was finally on the top. Looking down and seeing things look so tiny and all of a sudden I felt bigger than fear. The only thing I could think was, this life is full of opportunity and many times we do not take them because we are afraid.
Sorry mom and dad, please forgive me for my wild decisions. I made it to heaven on earth, where only Angels can land. We finally started making our way down, one step at a time. My friend was guiding me down, and that brought comfort. Her words distracted me from looking to my left or right too much and freaking myself out. I liked going down, more than going up which is funny because the entire time I was going up, I kept thinking down was going to be even worst which was opposite.
I found that I was still encouraging others and getting people excited to keep going, and to not let that fear feeling stop them. A man even said to me, “ I love the encouragement” and that one comment specifically to me, made the climb all worth it. All it takes sometimes, is a few words and that extra hand. We do not have to do life alone. I am with you, along with many others. Have faith and be a giving hand to someone who needs it.
Now I could keep going on, about all the rocks you pull yourself up on, spots you climb without chains, the hot sun draining you out, or even being so thirsty but you physically can not stop to drink water. I see it like this, to reach your limit, it takes risk and sacrifice. Which is why so many people back out. I truly believe you have to hike Angels Landing to experience this life changing moment. You see the photos, and can read what I am telling you, but you have to go actually live what me and many others did. When we made our way down that cliff, and I looked back at what I just came off of, I knew that fear was not stopping me from doing big things with my life. Fear should not stop you either.
Who would of known climbing Angels Landing could change a life? I hope to inspire one person who lives with fear of heights or whatever it is, to go do Angels Landing or something that has been on your mind for a long time. I am cheering you on!
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