Accepting Reality but not admitting defeat.
This week I did the math, to complete the trail before my return flights I need to hike 16.6 miles a day. If I take one zero a week the number becomes 19.2
I am still only a 12/mpd hiker, I am not getting better and stronger every day, I am still the last of my group to hobble into camp, the trail legs are not coming.
In what seemed like the answer to all my prayers, another hiker has arranged long term slack packing for a large group of us here at the very back of the bubble.
So many other hikers have told me that the reason I hurt so bad is the weight of my bag, it had been said so many times I had just assumed it was true. But three days into slack packing I know the truth, that the weight of my bag has no bearing on my tired aching feet. They hurt, and they hurt badly, bag or no bag.
As the reality of my capabilities becomes clearer I am faced with trying to accept that I cannot walk to Katahdin, without admitting defeat.
I think of all my reasons why I am hiking the trail, of how I will feel when I make it and how I will feel if I don’t. But when I was writing those lists I had never considered the possibility that I would be working as hard as I can to get to my goal, while watching it slip further and further from my reach.
At my current rate, without zeroes I fall approx 400 miles short of a thru hike.
What do I do? I have thought of nothing but this for the last four days. I have broken down crying both on trail and in camp because I am not ready to accept defeat even though I need to make some tough decisions about the integrity of my hike.
Do I continue north at my current pace and end my trip somewhere around Mt Washington?
Do I flip/flop so that I still get to see Maine and miss a section in the middle?
Do I yellow blaze a large chunk ahead to finish at Katahdin?
Do I yellow blaze in smaller pieces to keep moving forward?
None of the options sit comfortably with me, I am not yet ready to admit defeat.
How do you accept that you are not a thru hiker and still keep moving forward?
Does this mean when other hikers ask if I’m thru hiking I say no? Is long ass section hiking just as impressive?
‘Little bean’ who is currently my strongest supporter thinks anyone who spends 6 months in the woods hiking is a thru hiker, Katahdin or not. Little bean also smiles and indulges me when I theorise that cutting my feet off and finishing the trail on hands and knees will be a good solution.
Realistically I need to go see a foot doctor to work out what is wrong, but when your in a foreign country on travel insurance it’s not quite that easy, plus I’m terrified they will tell me I can’t keep hiking or worse, that I’m just a big baby and need to harden up.
My problem is not that I hate the trail, but that I love it too much.
These last few weeks have been nothing but a blast, great times with great people. Even in the pouring rain.
For now I continue slowly north and try to decide what is most important to me about my hike.
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