The 75/25 Rule

Chilkoot Trailhead

Cathryn and Robin at trailhead; note worried expression on my face

Steep trail ahead. Small group of hikers: Robin, me, a guide and two young men, all in their twenties, two more men in their late 40s. I was the only woman. Robin and I doubled the average age.

I had figured since we were on a cruise ship sailing the Inside Passage, this particular shore excursion would include plenty of us oldies. Somehow I overlooked the icon that showed this to be on the upper end of the easy-to-extreme scale.

The hike was at a time when Robin (on board as tour director for a group of Australians) could come with me. So I signed up for a two-hour hike on the famous Chilkoot Trail and a float back along the Taiya River.

On the drive to the trailhead, I fretted over how I would keep up. At the start of the trail, I contemplated the steep stretch ahead and wondered how I could gracefully opt out.

Chilkoot steep section

Trail crews have made this steep section into a luxurious stairway

Like most personal mountains in life, this one turned out to be a molehill. Steep sections were short. Trail conditions were ideal. The group was congenial and kind. The guide stopped frequently.

The piles of fresh bear scat didn’t worry me. I’d lived around a bear family one summer and knew they preferred to avoid contact with humans.

Taiya tributary

Recent heavy rains had brought the level of the Taiya River to near flood stage, as you can see in this tributary

By the time we reached the river and the rubber raft, we were a friendly group. So when the skies opened, we all donned the ponchos provided by Chilkat Guides, climbed in the yellow craft, and bobbed cheerfully down the river to the waiting hot chocolate. Water was high, near flood level, but the guide knew where all the boulders and snags [dead trees] were.

The outing turned out to be a highlight of our Alaska cruise. I didn’t slow the group down. Robin bought a t-shirt that gives bragging rights to having hiked a small part of a famous trail.

And all that pre-hike worry was exactly what my ex used to call the 75/25 rule: “75% of the things you worry about never happen.”

Cathryn and trail angel

Only when I looked at this photo on the computer did I notice that one of our young hiking companions was checking to make sure I was OK on this steep section.

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6 comments for “The 75/25 Rule

  1. Deepthi Jayatilaka
    August 29, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Congratulations for forging ahead to clim both mountains…..and transcending both. 75-25 rule is a great point to keep in mind as I fret about the run around I am getting from the Indian Consulate about my visa to India – to take my mom on a pilgrimage that I have dreamed about and planned on…. for several years. I will keep at it with a smile – the smile part is easier said than done!

  2. Michelle Jarman
    August 29, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    75/25 – fantastic advice to remember. Congrats on conquering yet another “fear” – you two are continual inspirations 🙂

  3. August 30, 2010 at 8:04 am

    When we watch you young folk facing higher mountains, we are also inspired.

  4. August 30, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Bureaucracies can be crazy making. Good luck with the visa – and the resolution to keep smiling.

  5. Burton Hennig
    August 30, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Someone once said “when you climb the ‘mountain’ and you look back to see the valley from there, your thoughts about the valley will have changed forever long after you have returned. That’s particularly true of our personal mountains and valleys. Thank you for sharing that. We often forget to look (think) beyond the boundaries we encounter in our lives. You two raise the bar of possibilities for all of us.
    …Burton

  6. August 30, 2010 at 11:40 am

    What an extraordinary comment – and a thoughtful observation about the personal mountains and valleys over which we climb, through which we pass. I’m still having to constantly re-learn the lesson that my only real boundaries are the ones I put in my path.

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