3, 2, 1 Panic
Well, it happened for the first time.
The other night, I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep when suddenly I was struck with a mildly paralyzing fear.
Guys, it’s 2017.
My thru-hike begins in approximately three months.
This mildly paralyzing fear then proceeded to keep me awake. As I stared into the darkness, my stomach churned and my nerves tingled. It’s three months away; how many nights am I going to have like this?
I am excited about this opportunity. I love hiking, mountains, and hiking mountains. I love being out in nature and appreciating the beauty and peace that can be found there. Even on days when I am at work and it is snowing buckets, I would rather be out in it than stuck behind a desk. I know I am going to grow and feel alive while I’m living out of a backpack for several months in the woods. Now, before you think I might be having delusions of grandeur…
Is any of this on my mind 24/7 right now? No. Instead, my thoughts tend to include:
Apprehension. Worry. Questions. What gear do I still need? What am I choosing to do about food? Hiking by myself. Leaving my job. Leaving my dogs and my vulture (not really “my” vulture, but one that I take care of at work). Ticks and Lyme disease. Living in the woods. Injuries. People. Hanging a bear bag. Maine. The Whites. Rocksylvania. Weather. Cold. Heat. Food. Water. Taking care of myself out there. Finishing.
The fears are real and much more potent than the excitement at the moment. The only thing stronger than the fears is my resolve to do this, a resolve that is backed by God, Who seems to be using this thru-hike as one big tremendous trust exercise. Because He does that sort of thing. He also answers prayers, and I was naive enough to ask Him to make me alive and fearless in Him. So here we go, He said.
“The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.” ~Anonymous.
Other than combating fears on a daily basis, preparations for my thru-hike are going fairly well. I have a good portion of my gear. An additional pair of hiking shoes/boots is still on my need-to-purchase list, as well as a few other odds and ends.
My original plan was to dehydrate meals to ship to myself along the trail for the duration of my thru. However, I don’t like to cook and the monumental task of planning mail drops seemed insurmountable. So I have trashed that idea (with 95% certainty). I will probably still send a few supplemental packages to myself, but otherwise I will settle for whatever food is available in towns along the trail. I know that, while hiking, I would stress about getting to post offices and such on time to pick up those mail drops. Hopefully, removing a potential source of stress will help me live a less-scheduled life while on the trail.
As far as physical training goes, I must admit that I have succumbed to the belief that I will train for the trail when I start the trail. That being said, I do workout regularly by lifting weights, doing cardio, etc. I also work as an animal keeper at a bird sanctuary. Shout-out to the Sanctuary’s “complimentary fitness plan”: taking care of 60+ birds keeps me running around for 6+ hours a day. It counts as miles, right?
By far, the mental preparation consumes most of my time and energy. A thru-hike is a “challenge to the heart”, even three months before it starts. I’m not going to give up on this challenge, this adventure. So here’s to restless nights and wearying thoughts and the ever-present God who’s got my back.
“The road that stretches before the feet of a man is a challenge to his heart long before it tests the strength of his legs.” ~Unknown
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