1000 Miles FAQ: Fears
1000 miles solo: faq’s about fear
Aren’t you scared to do this alone? (the question I’m asked most often)
Apprehensive yes, scared no. I feel comfortable in remote, sparsely-populated environments. It doesn’t scare me to be alone. To be honest the only nerves I have are those triggered by other people and how they react to what I’m doing, though I do understand that the knee-jerk reaction is to be scared of the unknowns and the what-ifs because society is conditioned to run on fear.
People are bombarded with fear day in day out and it’s second nature to be cautious and to point out the worst before you really think about it. I refuse to live my life that way. I spent a long time being terrified of everything after a few traumatic experiences left me struggling with severe agoraphobia and PTSD. Now I put things into perspective and go for my dreams regardless of what might happen and regardless of other people’s warnings. Life’s a lot less stressful and far more fulfilling when you stop listening to the hype and focus on the positive!
Why would you put yourself at risk like this?
I appreciate it sounds risky but that’s just because it’s out of the norm. Far riskier will be the journey to the airport, in all reality. Yes, I risk exposure, exhaustion etc. but that’s part and parcel of doing something this extreme. You could risk the same if you sprained your ankle walking in a forest. It’s all about being prepared and staying one step ahead of yourself. I learned that the hard way last time I was out there!
What’s the point of this?
It’s a good question but one that I’m not sure I have a good answer to. The idea came to me in a dream and it’s been calling me ever since. I’m not doing it for charity, to impress anyone or to break a record; it’s just something inside me that I have to do. I enjoy an adventurous life. I want to be a bit braver. I want to push myself. Other than that, it’s completely pointless.
Aren’t you frightened of sleeping alone in a tent in the middle of nowhere?
No. It’s one of my favourite things to do.
What if you get attacked?
Very unlikely in the big picture.
Are you taking a gun?
If you do get scared, how will you get through it?
There will be many, many times I’m scared but fear is 90% irrational thought. By putting whatever’s going on into perspective, staying calm and drawing on my experience I can get past it. If I need to, I can contact Dave – he’ll soon put me right. Fear is actually an important part of adventure – it should be embraced not … well, feared! Often the scariest times are the most rewarding – this is adventure – the unknowns are the most attractive part!
Talking of Dave, why isn’t he going with you?
Because this is a solo adventure and I want to do it alone.
How can he let you go alone?
He encourages me to live my dreams, whatever the outcome – I wouldn’t be with someone who put restrictions on my life.
What does he think about what you’re doing?
He admires the fact I have dreams and go for them. He loves my lust for life and my risk-taking nature. He enjoys the fact I don’t want a ‘normal’ life. He’s excited for me – he’ll be fearful while I’m out there of course but he understands why I’m doing this and is nothing but encouraging and supportive. He’s a massive part of my expedition and I see this as more of a joint effort than a solo attempt.
What do your parents think about it?
I’m not sure. They don’t talk about it unless I bring it up. I’m sure they’ll be proud when I’ve done it.
What’s the terrain going to be like?
Mostly road, with a few hundred miles of gravel road and track.
What about traffic – isn’t it dangerous to walk on road?
I’m avoiding the capital, Reykjavik, and its surrounding areas where the majority of busy traffic is. While there will be traffic, being tourist season, there are plenty of things I can do to protect myself and to make myself as visible as possible to oncoming vehicles. I’ll go into that in another post.
What about polar bears?
Highly unlikely to encounter one. Sometimes they’re spotted having drifted over from Greenland on an iceberg but it’s very rare and the authorities deal with them swiftly. Obviously if I spot one the only thing I can do is wave down the next car, get out of the area and alert the police. You can read about polar bears in Iceland (contains images some would consider graphic).
What if there’s an earthquake?
According to IcelandMag the national monitoring seismic network detects around 500 earthquakes every week in Iceland. Most of these are not felt by people. I’m pretty sure that if there was a warning about a ‘biggie’, a passing local or tourist would stop to warn me and help me get to safety.
What if a volcano explodes?
It depends where I am in relation to it and the wind, I guess. Again, I’m confident passing traffic would stop to let me know what’s happening and help me get to safety if there was a mass exodus.
Do you honestly believe you can do it this time?
I obviously believe I can do it, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. It’s other people who put doubts in my mind. Some family members’ comments (and silence) have made it obvious they don’t think I’m capable but I realise their doubts are based on their own fears and concerns for me. I’ve had to learn that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, no matter who they are – I’m doing this for me. Three months is a long time and anything can happen but what I’ll learn about myself along the way is what’s important, not crossing an imaginary finish line. It seems that most people focus on the finish line and put all the importance on that. I don’t.
How can you do this when you suffered with anxiety and agoraphobia for so long?
That’s why I’m doing this. I’ve cured myself of those things. They don’t hold me back – they spur me on.
Doesn’t it scare you to do this in front of an audience?
I’d be doing this whether or not I had people following me. I’m not doing it for them, I’m doing it for me. To be able to share my dreams is a joy because my followers are very positive, encouraging and supportive towards me. I know that when I’m out there I’ll draw strength from knowing they are with me every step of the way.
What do you feel when people call you delusional?
Sorry for them. They’ll never get it and I’m not going to waste time worrying about armchair experts.
What’s the most challenging part of your preparations?
Training while I’m recovering from my nervous breakdown. Sometimes it’s difficult for me even to get out of bed when I’m in a bad patch (usually caused by stress), so I have to start over each time. I’m confident I can get myself ready in time, though, despite my breakdown.
What do you think will be the most challenging thing you’ll face while you’re out there?
Exposure and exhaustion will probably be my biggest challenge. Mental strength might be a challenge at times – part of my preparation is working on self-belief and self-esteem, something I’ve struggled with my entire life.
What if you fail (again)?
No shame in failing to achieve something that less than half a handful of people are known to have done! You can fail at something but that does not make you a failure; it makes you someone who gave it a go. Reaching 1000 miles will be a bonus; the journey towards that goal is what it’s truly about. I’m not talking about the walk itself – I’m talking about what it’s taken to build myself into the kind of person who will tackle something like this in the first place.