Gravel-like lava rock covers the volcano Cerro Negro in Leon, Nicaragua. Because of this gravely covering, most of the hostels offer hikes to the top where you ride either a modified snow board or toboggan down. So, you know I had to look into it further.
Since I had to turn back while hiking up Santa Maria in Guatemala, I was concerned about making it to the top. And then there is the small matter of never having done any kind of boarding activity. Oh, and the fact that I quit breathing when I ride roller coasters.
Fun and scary
Once again, it would definitely stretch my comfort zone. So, like any good internet obsessed researcher, I looked it up on YouTube. It looked fun, but not overwhelmingly scary. Then I met a woman in Granada who had just come from Leon and she assured me that she had made the climb with a woman who had asthma, and just taking it slowly, I should be fine.
And then, I eavesdropped on a conversation between the guide and a couple of the adventure guides who were in Leon on vacation. Sitting down was supposed to be more fun that standing up anyway. So, with all of my concerns addressed in one way or another, I got myself signed up to slide down a live volcano on a wooden sled.
Announcing My Fears
My personal solution to my fears that I will slow the whole group down and irritate everyone, is to let them know before hand that I have exercise induced asthma and just need to take it slowly and take rest breaks. Most of the people I’ve met on these kinds of trips love outdoor adventures and really want everyone else to enjoy them too. Giving them a heads-up lets them know what’s going on so that they don’t start to worry when I lag behind.
I’m tall and I have a naturally long stride which gives me a tendency to walk quickly. Only, going uphill, I start to get winded almost immediately. And this time, of course, getting winded made me doubt if I could get to the top. It seemed so far up there and I had just started. So, I started chanting in my head, “little steps, little steps” and as I stumbled through the gravel, it became “little steps, pick your feet up, little steps, pick your feet up” and upon seeing everyone waiting for me at one point, “little steps, pick your feet up, you can do this.”
This particular trip, we had several snow boarding teachers/white water rafting guides with us. After they would fall back to take pictures, they would check on me as they caught back up to the group. Since I was going slowly, I was able to carry on a conversation without wheezing and they would tell me to take my time, we were in no hurry. (Although, the guide did eventually take my board for me. Like I was gonna argue with that.)
Taking Advantage of a Situation
We were short one protective suit and when I got to the top, I volunteered to let someone use my suit on the first run down, since almost everyone wanted to do two runs I could take a long rest at the top and go down with everyone else after they made a second climb up.
Being alone on top of a volcano is an awesome experience and I strongly advise taking the opportunity if it arises. Also, since everyone else and made one run already, I got to benefit from their experience, without having to make the second climb, which wouldn’t have happened anyway.
Ready, Set, Go
So, on went the bright green coveralls (Go Team Relish!), gardening gloves, and dust goggles and we tromped over to the starting point. When my turn came, I had a bit of a time getting my backside on the board before it started sliding. Once situated, it was actually fun. You can control your speed by sitting up to go slower or leaning back to go faster. With a foot to one side and a hand to the other you can steer. And really, there is nothing to get in your way, so nothing to do but enjoy the ride on the way down.
Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you’re probably right. -Henry Ford
I love baby steps. With them, I feel like I can accomplish almost anything, probably because I can. Literally, they make me slow down and take the climb at a more reasonable pace, but figuratively, they allow me to break any challenge down into easy pieces (my apologies to Richard Feinman). And when you focus on what you know you can do, your doubts shrink and you can replace them with the next little thing you can do.
What have you been holding back on doing that you could accomplish if you broke it down some more?
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We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud. What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)