A 5,000 Mile Failure

A Missed Goal

On February 13th I headed north from Springer Mountain on the Appalachian Trail (AT).  My goal was a calendar-year triple crown, or hiking the AT, Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and Continental Divide Trail (CDT) before the end of 2022.  On August 9th, out of the blue, my trip started to unravel.  And I am here to admit that I failed at my goal.

The Good Parts

This year wasn’t a complete waste – I got to hike a lot of miles, meet tons of amazing people, and see some of the most beautiful places in our country.  My journey started on the AT before heading to the PCT on May 1st after getting into New Hampshire and dealing with too much winter weather.  I started a northbound hike of the PCT and May 4th and completed the PCT on August 3rd.  I was incredibly lucky that I had a continuous footpath on the PCT – I avoided all fires and had great luck on my journey through California, Oregon, and Washington.  After a 92-day PCT hike, and a beautiful finish with a couple of new friends, I headed to the CDT full of energy.  My girlfriend and dad even came out west to drive me to the northern terminus of the CDT.

The northern terminus of the PCT with V and Yardsale

The Unraveling

“I tried like hell to tell myself
It was all your fault
I held on tight with all my might
I just couldn’t hang on
And that’s hard to hang your hat on”

“Dear Rodeo”  – Cody Johnson

I started hiking on the CDT late in the day on August 6th – feeling good but pressed for time.  I always felt pressed for time this year.  The first couple days in Glacier National Park were perfect – it’s a savagely beautiful place.  But halfway through a forty-mile day on August 9th I experienced an overwhelming sense of contentment.  I often get overwhelming feelings of gratitude during my hikes, it’s one of the reasons I love thru-hiking.  But this was the first time I had this incredible experience of contentment.

As a super-rational engineering type, these emotions create strange thought processes.  I spent the rest of the day trying to forget the feeling and rediscover motivation.  I bargained with myself to just make it another thousand miles.  I negotiated with all sorts of plans to keep continuing.  But after reaching town the next day and spending a couple zeroes talking with all sorts of thru-hikers, I flew home.  This should have been the end of my trip, but it wasn’t.

The only time I saw the sun once I returned to the AT – a perfect spot for views though!

The End

I won’t bore you with the details.  But let’s just say there were flight back to the CDT, back home, then back to the AT, and I didn’t finish either before hanging up the Altra’s this year.   I just never recovered the motivation needed to hike 30+ miles every day in all types of bad weather.

I am not a failure.  But I failed at this goal.  I try to separate the two entities every single day.  I’m proud of what I did this year, but the failure to complete the CYTC will weigh on me for a while.  A lot of days it’s difficult to remember all the fun I had this year and all the amazing people that I met along the way.

The Next Step

Its back to work for me.  But more importantly, I asked my girlfriend who has supported me for four years and through two thru-hikes if she wanted to marry me.  She said yes.

The golden retriever puppy we got before we left is also a little bit bigger than when I stepped out onto the AT this year.

She was surprised! And Altra needs to sponsor the wedding!

Its time to hang the Blouse up.  Its not a superhero cape, but sometimes if feels pretty dang close for me.

Also, congrats to the entire crew that attempted the CYTC this year.  Y’all were great.  Thank you for all the support and continued motivation you give me.




AT ’19, PCT ’22, Failed CYTC’er

People always asked me about the puppy! She isn’t ten pounds anymore

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Comments 14

  • Daniel : Nov 18th

    Super engineering type? Pompous I’d say…you can’t even define personality type. You can’t or won’t understand what failure is…

    Some folks are half dead and laying face down in the streets covered in flies…you get a year off to walk three long trails. Just shut yer hole!

    • JB : Nov 18th

      Hey, that’s a great feat he has accomplished!!

    • Jane I. : Nov 20th

      This is an article about his trip, please just respect what he’s shared; because there is suffering in the world doesn’t mean he can’t go solo hiking and then write about it. Then let’s stop sports, movies, sailing adventures and artists from painting too.

    • Lara : Nov 20th

      Troll! There’s no place for this kind of trash comment. Clueless.

    • Mike : Nov 22nd

      Hey Dannyboy… how far have you hiked?? 🤔

    • AR : Nov 24th

      He didn’t say “Super engineering type” he said “Super logical, engineering type”. He was just trying to give insight into how his brain takes in information.

      I think the last thing he is is a failure. I’d really like to hear more about his contentment. Almost sounds like he was starving and the overexertion + the starving put him into this weird state of mind.

      He should consider that maybe he didn’t have the fat reserves for the triple. He’s obviously fit, but he does look very thin/frail in the picture with the friends.

  • James William SOARES JONES : Nov 19th

    You wanted to walk, and you did. Please put thoughts of “I failed”, away. Where will you and your wife walk next?

  • .John Raudebaugh : Nov 19th

    Nice story. Have a great life. Pleased to have met you. I kept an eye on corrals gear at stiheken while she drove you guys back to the trail with the postmans truck.

  • Jane I. : Nov 20th

    I just so admire that you did any or part of these hikes, it’s a tremendous feat. Nothing about this was a failure you went with your gut and followed an instinct it was time to change plans. Just shows you were in touch with yourself. It’s when we hear that voice inside us say “it’s time to change” and don’t listen to it we get in trouble. Bravo and well done.

    • Lara : Nov 20th

      Exactly! Excellent points! Hope you can feel pride in your accomplishment at some point Bounce.

  • Leslie Veronee : Nov 20th

    Isaac I appreciate you sharing so honestly about what you’ve accomplished and how you feel! I suppose if I had half the motivation and mindset you do I would feel as if I failed but I don’t do all I see and hear is the incredible things that you did accomplish! Congratulations to you for all of that and also of your engagement and bigger puppy! I wish you nothing but success and happiness for your future endeavors! God Bless you!

  • Patrick Murphy : Nov 21st

    No failure at all. Don’t use the word. Goals should never ruin the beauty and wonder and base achievement of such a life-filled endeavor.

    • Chris Thomas : Nov 23rd

      Goals serve as a target, a guardrail to keep us aligned with a defined objective. If the objective no longer serves its purpose, one should reevaluate and consider a new target.

      Sounds like an amazing journey, I wish you the best as you begin your next one.

  • S Feather : Nov 24th

    Sometimes we state the wrong goals. Ask yourself why you hike? Is it only to check a box? Or is it for the experience as well? (No judgement, we all have different goals) There is something to be said about the sense of accomplishment from checking the box.

    Read Hillary’s accounts, and while he is the man who said “because it is there” and “no one remembers who came second”, you will note the emotions he felt from his accomplishments.

    Contentment is not a terrible state to experience. Contentment will help towards a better marriage. Contentment makes you a better employee. Contentment is not a surrender. Contentment is not an excuse to not try the next thing. Contentment is a rare thing. Relish it.



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