I will be going to West Virginia soon, a place I’ve never been. While in my own country, surrounded by states I have (Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio), for a New Englander, it’s definitely a state somewhat shrouded in mystery.
Should I believe in hearsay, books, stereotypes, it’s a place to be feared. While there is certainly problems there, less-than-desirable issues exist everywhere, included my hometown. West Virginia has always garnered my interest, as a state not super far by the interstate, yet seemingly distant on various spectrums.
I’d sought to hike in West Virginia umpteen times, but never had the time or circumstance afforded to do so. Now, I will get to go to the Mountain State.
Scared to Hike Alone
I’ve been to somewhat far-flung regions by myself or with just one friend, but with no infrastructure. I did this in places that don’t speak English, nonetheless.
I went to North Korea by myself in a tour group, not long after graduating college. I went to remote areas at the foothills of the Himalayas requiring scary bus rides and minimal oxygen to enjoy. I hopped in an unmarked car in Kazakhstan because I was told to. I’ve walked around New York at night alone. I’ve camped in the Badlands.
I’ve been to various regions, both in my country and outside, and yet I’m still nervous to go to Monongahela National Forest.
I’m not sure why, it may be stereotype, it may be horror stories, but hiking by myself in West Virginia seems scary than hundred-yard cliffs in Hunan, China. It seems more daunting than hiking with a friend in the Badlands with 0% humidity and 100-degree weather in the scorching heat. It seems more frightening than being lost in a jungle in Nicaragua.
For all the moments that brought my outside my comfort zone, driving to Blackwater Falls National Park and camping by myself in a strange land has made me more at ease than any other of moment in my travels.
Stretch Your Comfort Zone While Traveling
And this is a good thing. I once thought it’d been a while since I reallllly stretched my comfort zone while traveling. It got to a point where even wandering aimlessly in Hanoi seemed normal. But apparently West Virginia is my new frontier.
Raw emotions are a great thing; you can’t control them. And this feeling has got me excited to hike Seneca Creek Trail, drive up to Spruce Knob, and peer down the gorge at Grandview.
In the end, it’s a weird feeling nervous to travel in your own country and not in many distant ones!
West Virginia, here I come.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!