Canceling My Thru-Hike: A Crushing, but Correct Decision

Two days ago, I made the tough decision to cancel my northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Today, I finalized that decision by canceling my car rental to Georgia and my reservations at Amicalola Falls State Park. There is no turning back. Boots down on April 1 will not happen.

I Canceled for the Community

A fellow thru-hiker in the class of 2020 hit the nail on the head when she explained why she was canceling her thru-hike. I echo her sentiment—the trail communities that line the AT pour their hearts and souls into supporting thru-hikers, and now it’s our time to show them the same love by staying home. The bottom line is that I don’t want to bring a possible infection to those who live near and support those on the AT. Yes, an AT thru-hike is a lifelong dream of mine, but nobody else should have to risk getting sick or even dying because of it. It’s just not worth it. In the end, I decided that we should stay home and let this virus epidemic run its course.

Content with the Decision

I went from full-on planning that was filled with last-minute gear buying, nonstop food sorting, and fitting all our gear into our packs.  In an instant, this excitement came to a screeching halt. When the ATC asked hikers to postpone their thru-hike, I was shocked at first and then upset at the effect this would have on our plans. A side of me, though, was relieved.

As the coronavirus epidemic began to spread across the US, I was agonizing over whether to go. The Is it Right to Start a Thru Hike post by The Trek’s Maggie Slepian caused me to think more seriously about canceling, but it was the guidance by the ATC that made it clear. Staying home was the right thing for us to do. Period.

Going Forward One Day at a Time

I still have the last-minute gear and food deliveries arriving this week. It pains me to just put them aside instead of excitedly fitting them into my pack. It’s surreal how everything changed so rapidly. I now am living day to day, picking up extra hours at work (from home) and spending time with my family. Though I’d rather be on the trail, I am thankful for this time together.

We are still talking about hiking the Appalachian Trail, but I don’t know when and what form that hike will take. Unless a miracle happens and everything recovers in a month or so, I will join the class of 2021 next year. In the meantime, I will use this year to do local hikes and section hikes once the coronavirus epidemic slows down. Hiking Maine to Vermont or hitting Georgia and North Carolina are possibilities. Be sure to say hi if you see us on the trail! I’ll be the mom with all the kids.

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