Coping with Postponing
Beginning a thru-hike is every hiker’s dream, at least that was the case for me. The worst nightmare, however, is having to postpone this dream. Life can truly be tough but it feels even tougher when you have to put your dreams on hold… AGAIN.
The cause of the postponed thru-hike…
Our bags were all packed, the vet cleared Tate for the hike, and all that was left was my pre-hike check-up with my doctor. That is when my plans changed rather quickly. Getting a phone call telling you that you have torn your MCL and ACL will shock you. Especially when you were not expecting that at all. This news was hard for me to take in as I had already postponed my thru-hike due to Covid.
I had been counting down the days all the way down to the minute of when I could step back on the trail. The first time I had to cope with not only getting off the trail but also having to postpone it for a year was easier than this time. In 2020 I was able to live out of my car, move to Utah, adopt the most amazing pup ever, hike a ton, climb a lot, and explore like crazy. This time will be different. I will be spending the next 7-8 months in surgery, knee rehabilitation, and physical therapy all while cheering on (and also envying) all the 2021 hikers ready to attempt their dream of the Appalachian Trail.
How do you cope?
So, how do you cope with postponing your thru-hike? Everyone’s answer will be different but hopefully, my personal coping mechanisms will help other hikers who have had to come to the hard decision of a postponed hike.
I like to think that the first step is calling your super rad support system into action. By doing this you will be able to create a bubble of positivity around you. This bubble will help you on those days you want to stay mad. Get mad but do not let that emotion stay as it could prevent you from taking this time to be grateful for what is to come. My bubble is made up of my family, friends, trail family, and of course my pup Tate.
The best thing about creating your happy bubble is that not only will they be there to cheer you up but they can also help keep you and your mind busy. They are also your personal cheerleaders that are there to cheer you on for each new milestone in recovery. Be thankful for this bubble and reach out to them when times get tough and you don’t feel as strong.
Another idea for coping with postponing is remembering what your goal is. Set a goal for after your recovery period. Setting a goal will allow you to have something to look forward to!
Coping is always easier when you have ideas for the future. When you can dream about what is to come and then make that a reality. That is why creating a goal list is one of the top ways of coping with postponing. Your list of goals could be simple or insanely long. It is whatever you decide which makes it so great!
Personally, I have been planning on post-PT hikes and climbs. Little ones to truly be able to test the waters to see what my body might be capable of. These small hikes and climbs will actually help my surgeon see which direction of fixing my knee will go and give me hope that Tater Tot and I will be back on the trail in March 2022.
After your small goals, it is always important to have your large goals… The BIG DREAMS. These dreams will hopefully become a reality but they will also help to distract you from where you are at now and help you to be prepared for where you want to go. My big goal item will be my first overnight backpacking trip with Tater after the surgeon gives us the okay. This okay could be 10 months from now but at least we can start checking out our gear again and get ready to adventure.
I have come to realize that one of the best ways to cope with the postponement of my own hike is helping others that are still able to attempt theirs! Trail magic may not mean much to your average being but it is everything to a thru hiker. Trail magic is something that brings you joy after several long days of hiking and always is part of your favorite memories on the trail. Even though I wish I was the one receiving the magic this year… I am beyond excited to provide a happy day for fellow hikers, some that were actually a part of my OG trembly in 2020. To say there won’t be jealousy would be a lie, but doing this is just another step in the right direction of looking forward to my next chance to hike again. This may not be everyone’s favorite idea for coping, but for me, it is one that will allow me to give back to the trail while following doctor and physical therapy directions.
Remember the trail can giveth and taketh away, so, it is always imperative to give back in a way that will allow the trail a hard time in the taketh category.
The best thing that came with me having to postpone my thru-hike is the adventure buddies of mine that have been looking at ways for me to explore without hurting my knee more. I truly do recommend you surround yourself with those of the same goals and interests because these peeps will be the ones to go out of their way in helping you feel like your old self.
My personal buddies have helped me get back into kayaking, fishing, reading so many outdoorsy books, and drive me around all over to look at cool plants, trees, and animals. I know this may not sound like much but being able to be in the outdoors while injured helps to not lose who you were before everything changed.
Recover and send it! The trail will always be there. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FIRST!
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