|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – September 2008
Use this step-by-step guide to beat 7 common backcountry fears. Plus, ideal hikes for overcoming–or avoiding–the source of your scare.
Sara Miller looked death in the face in Nevada’s Gypsum Cave—at least, that’s how it felt when the rookie spelunker reached a tight room deep underground. “It was like the walls were closing in and I was going to die,” she remembers. Miller bolted, leaving her husband behind; when he caught up outside, she was shaking uncontrollably.
The Real Risk
Claustrophobia might be the most irrational of the irrational outdoor fears: Closed-in areas themselves can’t hurt you. Rangers report that visitors occasionally freeze up in Carlsbad Caverns, but they always make it back out just fine.
The 4-Step Fix
The Big Test
On a trek from Arizona’s Buckskin Gulch through Paria Canyon—the longest continually narrow slot in the world—you can touch both 500-foot-high canyon walls at once. blm.gov/az/paria
On the Wind Cave Canyon-East Bison Flats-Gobbler Pass trails, prairie grasses are the only features around, and there’s nothing but endless sky overhead. nps.gov/wica