I Never Knew There Would Be So Much Pain

Alright. So before I get into my main point of this post, I just really wanna try to caption exactly what I do everyday for the non hikers out there.

So imagine waking up, like you do every morning. Get up, get dressed, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, and be out the door by 8:30 to get to work, or school, or whatever.

But instead of imagining yourself driving, sitting in traffic, working, or studying, I want you to imagine that all you do, all day, until about 5 o’clock, is walk.

That is what thru-hikers do. Every day. They just walk.

It’s kind of bizarre if you really think about it. I think everyone out here is a little bit crazy, because thru-hiking is crazy. I’ve always known that it’s insane, so I knew from the beginning I needed to prepare myself.

I read a lot about thru-hiking before I started; books, blogs, forums, website articles. I read anything I could get my eyes on. I read about the weather, about the elevation. I read about hiker hunger and how bad I would smell. I thought I was pretty well prepared.

But after 250 miles I discovered something that no one ever prepared me for.

There is pain everywhere on the trail. There is pain in your feet, your ankles, your legs, your back, your hips, your collarbones. There is pain in your fingertips when they are frozen from taking down your tent in the morning, and there is pain in your stomach as you wait for your ramen to cook at the end of the day.

I knew all about this pain. I read about how my calf muscles would scream, and how my arches would sting, and I was ready for it.

I knew that hiking was going to be painful, but I had no idea that there would be so much pain when I slept.

At first, I thought it was just me. I would wake up in the middle of the night to my feet falling asleep or from the pain in my knees. I would have to change positions almost every hour because my hips wouldn’t be able to handle my weight. Flipping over from one side, to the other, to my back, to my stomach.

I was so confused at first. I slept like a baby on my sleep system all last summer as I dirt bagged about the Pacific Northwest. I didn’t understand why I was having so much trouble sleeping on it now.

“Well, yeah, of course we are in pain as we sleep. I mean, look at what we are doing all day,” my fellow thru-hiker Bumblebee told me after I asked her if she was also feeling pain as she slept.

After asking the other hikers in my tramily, it was pretty much confirmed that all of them were going through the same thing.

I knew there would be pain when I hiked, but I had no idea there would be so much pain when I slept.

My one friend told me that she thought it was implied, but I had no idea. So for all those future hikers out there, get ready for the pain, day and night.

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Comments 4

  • Therese : Apr 3rd

    I thru hiked last year and was very lucky not to experience the kind of pain you describe. My best friend was ibuprofen: 3 in the morning and 3 before bed. Try it! Also, when possible, soak your feet in cold streams/creeks. It really helps. Good luck…….things should get better.

  • Keith : Apr 3rd

    It gets better, I can assure you of that. If your pack doesn’t have to be on, take it off. If you don’t have to be standing, take a seat. Every little bit will help. I tossed and turned at night throughout my thru-hike in 2009. When it comes to sleep on the trail it is quantity over quality. Know that you are not the only one out there who is hiking through pain.

  • Frozen mac : Apr 6th

    Pain is inevitable, for sure… I remember not being able to walk down stairs normally for months after I finished my thru-hike in 2015. BUT I will say look at the contents of your pack carefully. If there are things in your pack you haven’t really been using, figure out what you can send home, especially as it gets warmer. The lighter you travel, the nicer your body will be to you at night.

  • Zach K : Apr 10th

    I hiked 60 miles of the AT and the pain after 3 days was enough for me. You are a true trooper


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