The Comfort Zone- last time- I promise!!

IMG00239-20100809-1331IMG00260-20100812-1501IMG00243-20100809-1600IMG00242-20100809-1556 You know, I appreciate you reading these posts because I need to get this stuff out of my head and into some legible form, so this is for me as much as it is to entertain all of you who read these posts. I appreciate it. In any event, I have this theme that has been rattling around in my head about pushing yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone. In previous posts I have told you about my friend Eric who lives in Incline Village, Nevada. He and his wife Helen have truly taken advantage of their environment out there in the west. They are expert skiers, they take their sport mobile out into the desert and camp, mountain bike and hike and enjoy their surroundings. Eric took his motorcycle and went from Tahoe to the Artic Ocean and back. They are adventurers but all of us can be adventurers too maybe to a lesser degree but nonetheless, adventurers in our own environment.

Three years ago, my wife Janet and Jack and I went to visit Helen and Eric and had a fantastic time enjoying the Sierras and Lake Tahoe. We visited Yosemite which by the way, if you have not been there or to a National Park, please by all means put that on your bucket list. Eric has the good habit of pushing folks out of their comfort zone which is a good thing and allows people to stretch their limits and take the experience home with them. He has done that for years on the slopes with me and in previous visits, he has stretched Janet’s zone in more mental ways than perhaps physical. By that I mean that we were out for Eric and Helen’s son’s wedding and we all went for a hike. Eric made note to tell Janet that there are bears who climb up over his fence and feast on the birdseed in his feeders. Her eyes were like saucers as we went out the door to the hike by the lake and Eric regaled some other stories that had Janet wondering whether hiking with Eric was a good idea. All was well and the only bear that we did see was crossing Rt. 50 in the main drag of North Tahoe. Both Janet and Jack had never seen a bear in the wild but here was a nice sized one looking like he had just come out of the Starbucks store on the left of the road. We watched from the safety of the car but Janet had her bear experience and had also hiked in bear country which definitely stretched………….her comfort zone.

So- getting back to the recent trip, Eric and Helen had us in the kayak in the lake, we swam in the lake, went for walks and took in the beauty of the Tahoe region. All pretty benign activites until the day Eric told Janet that we were going to hike Mt. Rose. Now what you must understand about my friend Eric is that he is the master of the understatement. He told Janet it was a quick three hour out and back hike. So, our merry little band of hikers, Eric, Helen, Jack and Janet and me, took off with some instructions and some nice delectibles in the packs. Jack had to use his hiking shoes that I bought him much to his chagrin but I told him that basketball shoes were not the footwear of choice when hiking in the Sierras. The wildflowers were in full bloom and the trail was dry and the day was crystal clear. We could see the summit of Mt. Rose and it looked like we could reach out and touch it. That is how things are in the west. So near, but yet so far and crystal clear, kind of like some goals in our lives. About two hours into the hike, Janet started to ask how much farther which indicated to me that she was approaching the end of the comfort zone. I told her that it looked like only a little bit more but that turned into an hour. As we reached the summit, the views of the lake and over to Reno were spectacular which masked the fact that Janet was tired. I told her it was all downhill from here which was pretty much true but there were some undulations in the trail in which vertical feet were gained and not lost. But for the most part, we were making our way down. The nice thing about Helen is that she is in great shape yet very understanding and was happy to be with Janet as she told Jack and Eric and I to basically get lost. This made the return trip more enjoyable for Janet and as we reached the trailhead…….6 hours after we started, Janet breathed an altitude deprived sigh of relief. Jack was undaunted as he gave a very simple statement of approval as per the teenage communication protocol,” that was cool.” He is the master of the understatement in our family.

Bottom line in all of this is that Janet stretched her comfort zone immeasurably that day courtesy of Helen and Eric. She is much more confident on hikes or other physical activities that she has taken up in the time since the big hike. She loves to hike now and she and I have taken some nice day hikes right here in Pennsylvania and enjoyed all of the seasons. We snowshoe in the winter- which is a form of winter hiking and again, the confidence that the trip to Incline has brought her has helped in so many ways beyond physical exertion. Mental confidence and experience brings a lot to the table and I thank Eric every time I ski with him for making me a better skier by stretching my limits over all the years that we have skied together. Lots of folks are hesitant to go out of their comfort zone and do not have the good fortune of having friends that help them expand their horizons. As we get older, it is very important to keep growing physically and mentally. There are so many healthy activities that can be experienced if we only have the courage to take on the challenge. It doesn’t have to be riding a motorcycle to the Arctic Circle. Lots of folks just have to get up and go for a walk. Everyone has their comfort zone staring them in the face. You can blast through it or you can go through it gently and at your own pace. Take a page from Janet’s book and slowly stretch your limits for the better. Life is to be lived. Lots to do. Enjoy it. Thanks for reading.

6 thoughts on “The Comfort Zone- last time- I promise!!

  1. Pete hilton says:

    Nice post Pat, time goes by too quickly not to try this stuff while we’re still upright!

  2. david helmick says:


    Good post. Not that you need my “blessing,” fellow English major. Please share these pics with your wife if you will. Bears are good; they don’t want to mess with humans any more than we want to mess with them. They run away fast. Would like to pet, but might be a bit dangerous. Took two of these pics from our side porch at Seven Springs last year. Mama bear was most awesome and protective. I stayed away from her and cub for good reason… BEAUTIFUL creatures!! One is through sliding-door. The other is a hokey T-shirt I bought at Wal-Mart – and fully support. Now it’s mating season. This month and next at least. Son Garner saw a Biggun driving back from Somerset last weekend. -D

  3. Mark Hutch says:

    Another wonderful post Pat! Eric is a wonderful friend who does stretch us! But what favor! It good to know that you appreciate the adventure of clinging to the headwall at tuckermans in the face of the approaching blizzard! The downright giddyness of riding the cornice chair with no safety bar! The rush of hanging 200 feet over the valley floor in the gondola at mammoth! The wonderful feeling of waiting and hour before the lift opens to ensure our buttocks find the first chair! Durf we do love you! Thanks Pat for telling us the ways! Good going to Janet! Hiking is a wonderful pursuit! And all the bears in vermont are friendly.

  4. Bill says:

    another great post love the bears with janet and good for jack to hang in there with you guys

  5. Art Bonn says:

    Nice work Janet.

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