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Crossing the Ledge of Fear

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“And we are here!” the scoutmaster exclaimed, as the car pulled into the parking lot. As we slowed to a stop, I gazed through the window at the forest and anticipated the upcoming hike. I stepped out of the car and began to feel a bit nervous. I knew beforehand that this would be a challenge for me, but now that I was actually here, I began to have many doubts. I had never been on a hike this long before. What if I got lost, or even worse, left behind? I snapped out of my thoughts as another scout brushed past me. I noticed that his sleeping bag was strapped around the bottom of his backpack. I quickly did the same thing to my backpack, not wanting to be out of place. I was already new to the Boy Scout troop, and I didn’t want to sink any lower. I heaved my backpack off the ground and slid one of my arms through the strap, and then the other, and instantly slumped down as I felt the heavy weight it placed upon me. My parents had warned me not to pack so much much, but I hadn’t listened. I was snapped back to reality as the dry wind brushed across my face. Simultaneously, the sun burned down on my neck and shoulders. I hated this weather, windy and hot. My back screamed out in pain as I began to trudge through the parking lot and onto the trail. I realized I had already fallen behind. I pushed one foot in front of the other as fast as I could. I caught up with the others and joined the conversation. Before long, the pain in my back had ceased and I felt more comfortable hiking with my backpack. Also, as the hike went on, the conversation distracted me from my doubts. It was about 20 minutes into the hike when the line of scouts in front of me skidded to a stop. After a of couple minutes, I began to sense that something was wrong. I looked up ahead and noticed that the trail was continuing onto a very narrow cliff edge. I silently screamed as all my doubts returned. I was very scared. I knew that this hike wouldn’t be easy, but walking along a cliff that narrow was far worse than I ever imagined.


I stepped to the side and saw that in order to get onto the cliff, every scout had to stuff his backpack through a tiny gap between two huge rocks, and then turn sideways and slide through onto the edge. The line moved forward in front of me and I forced myself to move with it. When my turn came I looked through the gap and saw that the cliff was even more narrow than it looked from afar. I gulped and hesitated. “Come on!” the scouts behind me urged. The person in front of me held out their hand and said, “Here, hand me your backpack.” I let my backpack slip out of my sweaty hands and into his grasp. I turned sideways, like he had done before me, and slid myself through the gap. I looked forward and saw mountains and forests in the distance. I was unable to make myself look down, as I knew if I did, I would turn back around on the trail in fear. I pressed my back against the wall and took my backpack, putting it back on my shoulders. I slowly began to inch across the edge. Many scouts behind me passed in front of me, walking normally. I didn't have the guts to do that. I tried to catch up but I couldn't. I crept across the edge and saw the end, where it changed back into the forest. It was so close, yet at the pace I was going, it would take so long. I realized that I was the last one left, and to catch up, I would have to walk normally. I slowly moved my body to the right, and pivoted until I was facing forward. I looked down and saw not a beautiful view, but a tumbling, violent fall. I held my breath, and ran as fast as I could across the edge. I jumped over a rock, not caring how dangerous it was.


My backpack rocked from side to side on my shoulders. I breathed heavily as my feet stepped through gravel and dirt. Before I knew it, I was back on the trail. I looked in front on me and saw all the scouts walking a few feet ahead. As I ran to catch up, I celebrated my triumph over my fears. I had conquered my fear of heights, and it felt great.

 

I realized from this event that trying new things, even if you are afraid of them, can give you important skills in the future, such as confidence and bravery. After crossing that cliff, I also learned that I could try other new things that I was too scared to do. Overall, this experience that I went through not only helped me conquer one of my fears, but it also gave me the confidence I need to overcome many more.






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