Ten Days Left but Why Am I So Overwhelmed?

It’s the middle of the night and my mind is racing. I leave for the trail in ten days. There is so much going on. I picked up extra shifts last week and this week to make a little extra cash before setting off on trail. I have been going through my gear over and over to make sure nothing is missing. Checking it to see what I can take out to lighten my load. I’ve been trying to hang out with friends since I will be missing so much while gone. This overwhelming feeling is exhausting.

Now that the trail is just over a week away, the overthinking has begun. I keep asking myself the same questions over and over without a clear answer. Am I ready? Am I able to do this? Will I be OK? What happens if I fail? Will people think less of me if I fail? What about my life at home? Am I doing the right thing by leaving my life and family for six months? Will my dog remember me when I come home?

It’s hard to put into words my feelings right now. I just don’t know what I’m feeling. I don’t even think I could voice it. Is this normal? Does every potential thru-hiker go through this before their first major backpacking trip? 

Don’t get me wrong. I am beyond excited for this adventure. I can’t stop thinking about all the amazing things that can come out of this hike. I know that not every thru-hiker makes it all the way. If I am one of the ones who doesn’t make it, I’ll still have so much that I gained from this adventure. All the friends I made along the way, the memories I made, the breathtaking sites I saw. Yes, it will suck for not having completed it but I never would have had those experiences if I didn’t at least try. If I make it, though, it will be just that much sweeter. 

Overwhelming about certain things that I can’t change is not going to help anything. With just over a week left, I’m going to finish out my last week at work, spend time with family and friends, and relax.

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Comments 9

  • Steve Oppel : Feb 23rd

    Hello Kayla, one step at a time and try to enjoy each moment, even the ones you don’t like. Embrace the uncertainty. If for whatever reason you do not go all the way, thats alright, not the end of your world. Have backpacked since eleven in Boy Scouts and like you nature saves me from the ugly nature of many people. In 1975, done with H.S., two good friends and I hiked the trail thru Virginia. Never had dreams of doing the whole trail, just many sections over my 62 years. You would laugh at what “gear” we had, really not much, a sheet of plastic for a tent if it rained. We did have plenty of young spirit , a thirst for adventure and a big bag of good weed. As usual, the horrible times I recall best, with great amusement. One of my friends had never backpacked before, naturally good at it, tough. Sadly his last time too. Soon after in a bad wreak that left him paraphelgic, still active though. My best advice , take it slow at first and watch your step. Find a good friend or two you can trust to help you along your journey. And treat lightning with full respect. Always keep your wits about you. Best of luck and have fun !

  • Laura : Feb 23rd

    Hello Kayla I am just wondering How many miles do you anticipate hiking daily and what’s your time frame goal? Have fun out there.

    • John Salmon : Feb 24th

      One step at a time.

  • Richard Guenther : Feb 24th

    Your dogs will remember you! I am doing a flip flop starting in about 6 weeks and I’m sure I’ll have some of the same feeling 10 days out. Work to stay in the present – focus on your breath. It will be what you make it and no matter what happens you will learn something about yourself.

    • Bill Markunas : Feb 24th

      Good advice. Holler if u need anything in SNP. I live Elkton Va trail & hut maintainer mm 905

  • Brian T Worthley : Feb 24th

    Hi ….. now breath in and breath out, repeat and take one step at a time, repeat.
    Your dog’s will remember you and you will remember your trip. Don’t worry if you don’t finish it all in one trip. Enjoy every minute of it and take in the whole experience. Use your head and trust your gut. All the best to you! Brian.

  • Stanley Stasiewicz : Feb 26th

    I tried twice to do the trail in 2018. First time I got a week out before I blew a hernia. Had it repaired and tried again. Got out 2 weeks before I accepted I wasn’t having fun. I was 65 at the time and the physical aspect was not an issue. Start out with low mileage for about a week or so, then you can add as you feel comfortable. Listen to and respect what your body is telling you or you will pay the price. There is a physical component that you can deal with by being smart. There is also a mental component that I think really depends on your personality. I did not deal with that very well and in retrospect, I realize I needed a buddy. Good luck and be safe. Being overwhelmed is normal BTW.

  • Whichway : Feb 26th

    Appalachian Trials by Zach Davis addresses this pre-bike panic. Great read for all thru hikers getting ready to step out. Best of luck to you, I didn’t finish my hike in 2014, but I will someday. There is no such thing as fail…the trail isn’t going anywhere without you.

  • John Kapustka : Mar 2nd

    As others have said, “One step at a time.” I recall how the late actor Richard Burton answered the question as to whether he still got nervous prior to a performance. His answer was “yes” and that is part of being human. So, it would be inhuman for you not to experience some anxiety prior to an important journey and an important part of your life. The fact is, you are not simply going on a hike or a trek, you are undertaking a “pilgrimage.” Something that is part of our psychological DNA. Go with it! There will be some down moments, but there will also be uplifting moments. Much as in life. The miles that you hike are not important. The inward journey is what is important. And one thing I can promise you, your dogs will not forget you! Godspeed!


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