Fears and phobias often intensify in remote areas

Hylophobia is defined as the fear of forests. It is considered to be a specific phobia related to dendrophobia (a fear of trees), nyctohylophobia (the fear of dark wooded areas or of forests) and xylophobia which is the fear of wooden objects and/or forests.

Over the course of human history, cultures all across the globe have created tales of mythical creatures that reportedly kidnapped children, enslaved them in horrible conditions or actually ate them!

Along the Pacific Northwest coast, where water provided the primary mode of transportation, the creature was a “Wa-kee-sha,” a horrid, mis-shapened creature that lived underwater. The scary monster had a habit of kidnapping children who traveled too far from camp, similar to the gypsies of my youth.

Similar myths have been passed down through generations of kids — from Hansel and Gretel to the backwoods boogie man of my youth. My mother’s family had similar tales about children being abducted by tinkers or gypsies, which was intended to scare the children away from the train tracks.

Over the course of thousands of years, these cautionary tales have likely saved the lives of many wandering wayward kids.

However, they never seemed to have that effect on me. I was interested in meeting an actual gypsy; I wasn’t about to run away from them. I thought they lived an exciting life, riding the rails and seeing the country.

In many cultures, phobias are due to a combination of external events or internal predispositions. Many specific phobias can be traced back to a specific triggering event, usually a traumatic experience that occurred at an early age.

My mother had an innate fear of chaise lounge chairs, which I expect was the result of the years she spent in the “san,” “taking the cure” from tuberculosis.

As with any phobia, symptoms may vary depending on the level of fear. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, nausea, an inability to articulate words or sentences, dry mouth and shaking.

Over the years, I have learned how to deal with phobias. I’ve led several hikers off a bare mountain summit after they were paralyzed by the “vast emptiness” they had to confront.

The secret? Walk calmly with your head down and focus on your boot laces. It is a technique that’s worked for everything from bees and strong winds to bears and ants.

It is important for travelers to recognize the stress of outdoor travel in remote areas often intensifies fears and phobias.

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