Better safe than sorry

I was almost running. The rain was coming down harder now. The trail I was on was narrow and slippery. Going fast without tripping over some root or rock was getting more and more difficult.

Earlier that day, while enjoying a lunch break I thought I’d heard some rumbling in the far off distance. I couldn’t be sure and the weather forecast had said nothing about a thunderstorm moving into the area.

Still, I had cut my lunch break short. I had at least another 4 hours of hiking in front of me before I’d get to the mountain cabin where I’d spend the night. Better try and get there as soon as possible in case the weather turned bad.

It was one of those (what in Austria are called) ‘Kaiserwetter’ days: sunny with cloudless, deep blue skies. Everything about the day pointed to great hiking conditions. No signs of a thunderstorm moving in. Except for that distant rumble.

Now I was moving as fast as I dared along the path leading towards the safety of a mountain cabin. As I briefly stopped to put on my rain gear I checked my map. I had at least another hour to go and there was no alternative shelter or route.

Looking up at the clouds and listening to the rolling of thunder coming closer I knew I wasn’t going to make it. The storm would overtake me long before I got to safety.

I hiked on for as long as I dared, but when lightning was added to the mix to keep on going just wasn’t common sense anymore. (Llightning strikes are a common occurrence in the mountains, especially on exposed ridges like the one I was on.) This was literally a case of “It’s better to be safe than sorry!”

It was time to stop, sit on my backpack and wait out the storm. I found myself an open spot away from trees, large boulders and my (lightning rod like) hiking poles and settled in.

There was nothing I could do about it now. Having taken all possible measures I would just have to wait for the storm to pass.

When it eventually did, I gathered my gear and made for the mountain cabin. An hour later I was enjoying dinner in the warm and cosy common room of the Zöllnersee Hütte.

While waiting for the storm to pass I found myself thinking about the similarities between my situation and handling problems we sometimes run into when we’re storming down a path towards our life goals.

Once you get going it is easy to just focus on your goal with no consideration or eye for anything else. With single minded concentration you try to get where you want to go as soon as possible.

But sometimes things happen that should give you pause and make you reflect on your situation. It could be anything.

A family member or good friend may fall ill and really need your help. Perhaps you get fired from the job you were counting on financially while you’re working towards your goal. Or a great career opportunity comes along and has you questioning whether you’re on the right path.

In those and others situations blindly charging ahead along the path you were on is not always the best way to proceed.

Stop and analyse the situation.

Ask yourself questions like:

✬ What will happen if I just keep going as I’ve been doing?

✬ What if I were to do some things different than planned? And what would the possible results be?

✬ Is there an alternative route I can take?

✬ What if I just wait for a while for ‘the storm to pass’. i.e. see what happens?

✬ What if I retrace some of my steps and find another way to reach my goals?

Only after you’re satisfied you have settled on the best way to handle your particular situation, are you ready to move ahead.

It’s not just during thunderstorms in mountains that it can be better to be safe than sorry!

As always….

Go dare greatly

Photo: Zöllnersee Hütte | © 2017 Gerdi Verwoert

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