As Much A Mental Hike
Passing through sixty miles of New Jersey, there is a certain air of hesitation and delay in many of the other hikers. I've seen consistent drops at random mile markers for reasons ranging from physical, mental, emotional or financial reasons. Many hikers stall in Delaware Water Gap, more in Port Jervis. Asking hikers what would make them quit, some say that they miss a significant other. Others say they won't quit unless they broke a bone. Many have just faced fatigued and turned to head home from this adventure-turned-ordeal.
Pictured: Abscess on a thru-hiker's knee.
He continued hiking.
The Strongest Think They Are Strong
Thru-hiking wasn't something I felt prepared for. As a Hawaii hiker, I spent many years leading groups over just as rocky and steep terrain as anything we've yet encountered. The call of the mountains was as strong as it is here. I love the woods. I'm fortunate to always have been able to simply sit down and relax when I felt encumbered by the baggage I've carried this hike. The load has lightened considerably since starting, and my pack weight has grown. I happily carry an almost 42 lbs bag after revisiting some luxuries that I hold inseparable in this section of my hike. Others have seen the baggage grow and took any opportunity to run for the cities that they scorned months before. The term of "real-life" etches itself into even the mind of the most hallowed of purist thru-hiker.
Some crumble to the pressure while others thrive in the fact that they are "sticking it to the man" for being unemployed, homeless and happy. Whatever drives us now is a mixture of raw determination and the question we came out here to answer.
HYOH and All That Jazz
How am I feeling? Great. I hurt physically, and I need time to reflect on my past each day as much as the next person. If I see a good view, I stop and enjoy it. After a thunderstorm warning was issued, I spent a zero in a hostel amid my need to keep a certain mileage to finish on my schedule. I took my safety in consideration and executed a plan to which I felt most comfortable. Snakes? I still see them, but I fight my irrational urge to succumb to fear. There are still side quests which I hope to share in the next blog. All I can say is this journey is as much a life as it is a trail. I'm happy to see those who are not happy with it, change their situation even if it means going home.
Now, I'm on to New York and possibly the New York Renaissance Faire!
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