22 Quotes to Inspire Your Thru-Hike

I love quotes, and always have. “Quotes” was a potential trail name I considered, before settling on “Psych” because I thought it was catchy and better reflected my passion for psychology and mental health. Nevertheless, quotes still play an important role in my life, and anyone who knows me can tell you I often randomly throw out quotes in conversation.

In the books that have them, I love reaching the beginning of new chapters or sections that provide quotes related to the content that follows (a few examples of books I’ve recently read with this: Appalachian Trials by Zach Davis, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Eat and Run by Scott Jurek, and How to Hike the A.T. by Michelle Ray—obviously there are plenty of non-hiking/running books with this feature as well, I’ve just been ravenously reading about hiking the past few months). I find quotes—simple, concise statements expressing bigger ideas—to be nice reminders of those bigger ideas, which can be more complicated to understand sometimes.

Similar to the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words,” I find the wisdom to be contained in some quotes to provide great comfort, encouragement, and inspiration—perhaps even more than reading or hearing a thousand words elaborating on the idea the quote conveys.

Here are 22 quotes, approximately one quote for every 100 miles of the AT, that get me (and hopefully you!) inspired for the journey ahead:

1. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. –Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism

2. The mountains are calling and I must go. – John Muir, American environmentalist

3. The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. – John Muir

4. It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves. – Sir Edmund Hillary, first man to summit Mount Everest

5. You won, this time. But you are as big as you are ever going to get. And I’m still growing. – Sir Edmund Hillary to a picture of Mt. Everest after his first unsuccessful summit attempt

6. To travel, to experience and learn: that is to live. – Tenzing Norgay, the Himalayan Sherpa to accompany Sir Hillary on his expedition

7. Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never pushed through the obstruction. – William James, American psychologist and philosopher

8. They are able who think they are able. –Virgil, ancient Roman poet

9. Nanakorobi yaoki (Fall down seven times and stand up eight) – Japanese Proverb

10. Per ardua ad astra (Through struggle to the stars) – Latin Proverb

11. One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. – André Gide, French author

12. The best way out is always through. – Robert Frost, American Poet

13. The woods are lovely, dark and deep / But I have promise to keep, /And miles to go before I sleep, /And miles to go before I sleep. – Robert Frost

14. I’m a slow walker, but I never walk back. – Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States

15. Heroism is endurance for one moment more. – George F. Kennan, American diplomat

16. Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory. – William Barclay, Scottish author

17. Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. – Robert F. Kennedy, American politician

18. Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. – Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement

19. If you’re going through hell, keep going. – Winston Churchill, British politician

20. Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one. – Bruce Lee, martial artist and actor

21. No Pain, No Rain, no Maine – Common Appalachian Trail saying

22. The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American Poet

Please share some of your own favorite quotes in the comments–I’m always looking for more good ones to reflect on and turn to for inspiration!  Happy and Inspired Trails!

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Comments 3

  • jared cicero : Nov 29th

    my friend and i are planning on hiking the AT in the spring of 2019 and i wanted to find some quotes to get us through and then i found this! there are some really great quotes in here. however, i think you should add “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” – Frank A. Clark to your list.

    • modemers : Nov 9th

      “. . . and I went into the forest, to lose my mind and find my soul.”

      author unknown

    • Idgie : Dec 8th

      Love the quotes. Brought back memories of our thru-hike 2017. Trail names. PONCHO AND IDGIE.


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