It’s My Hike

It’s not a race.

I have been on the trail for over 2 months, now. Daily, I remind myself that I am hiking my own hike and I can’t compare my pace or distance with other hikers from any age or demographic. My default pace is a comfortable 1 1/2 miles per hour. My average daily mileage last week was just over 12 mile days. I stop to take a lot of pictures, I dawdle, I explore side trails, and in general, I go slowly and enjoy myself.  Sometimes, without trying, I get close to 2 mph – the trail is smooth and fast, I feel great, or I’m trying to get to a business before it closes. Other times, as hard as I try, the terrain, my body, the weather, or other challenges constrain me to around just a mile an hour (or slower!).  Those are the times I especially need to remind myself that It’s My Hike and It’s NOT a race. I will hike again tomorrow as long as I continue to enjoy myself, and to stay healthy and uninjured.

Because my pace doesn’t seem to match other hikers, I don’t really have a trail family. I usually see other hikers for a few days or even a week. If a hiker gets off the trail for several days for a special function back home, I get to see them when they catch up to me again. There was that one section hiker I saw a few times each week in PA. It was fun to visit with him and his dog. Recently, I’ve been hiking around a couple I met when we were overnighting at the top of Bromley (see the feature image). Doubletime and his wife have been a few hours ahead or behind me for a while. It’s nice to chat with them and see how their hike is going, too. Otherwise, I hike alone. It’s my hike. I get to decide when I take breaks, when I take pictures, where to eat in town, when I stop for the night, and how fast or slow I want to go.

I have ruminated on this challenge. How to be okay with my pace and distance. I think a big part of it comes from self-doubt and imposter syndrome. Who am I to claim the title of “thru-hiker?” Thru-hikers are beasts of the best kind! I know I said I am claiming my adjectives of strong and brave in my last post, but that isn’t a one-time thing. I have to claim it daily to gain the confidence and push down the self-doubt. I AM a thru-hiker. My pace or daily distance doesn’t matter. Each day, I hike until I’m finished (unless it’s a zero day!).  I have learned to balance the short and easy miles with the long or challenging miles. For example, this weekend, I hiked over 13 miles on Saturday. When I still had more than 9 miles to go, I knew I’d need to step up my pace to get to the business I wanted to go to before they closed. I hiked those miles faster than 2 mph. It wasn’t necessarily fun, but I did enjoy getting to the farm stand. The next day, I hiked another 13+ miles, but it was a lot slower because most of the trail was steep. The first half of the day I barely broke 1 mph!  My legs are tired today after those hard days. Fortunately, today had shorter, easier miles. And I did yoga stretches last night.

It’s my hike. I get to go as fast or as slow as I want. I just need to remember my goals are to enjoy my hike, and to stay healthy and uninjured. It will take me longer than those fast thru-hikers. But that’s their hike. Not mine. I can admire their speed, but still enjoy strolling along to take photos of flowers, critters, and sunrises. At MY pace.

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Comments 9

  • Smitty : Jun 7th

    Splendid stay safe

  • Dirtbagger : Jun 7th

    When it’s about the adventure and not the miles, as long as you FINNISH your objective, winner, winner, chicken dinner.

  • Rick : Jun 7th

    Bravo. Setting YOUR own pace, not someone else’s. Some people hike from point a to point b as fast as they can. What’s the fun in that. I’m very proud of you. A seasonal only (very novice) hiker myself. I only get to rarely hike in the Red River Gorge and GSMNP on a couple of vacations a year. Usually no more than a roundtrip 4-6 mile hike. Keep it up, stay strong.

  • Rev Jo : Jun 7th

    I went to grad school (seminary) as an adult, and life circumstances caused it to take twice as long as normal. I wryly joked about being on the turtle path to ministry. You know what they call someone who takes 8 years to get ordained? “Reverend.” 🙂 And you know what they call someone who does a long trail slower than some others? A thru-hiker!

    Best of luck, and enjoy prioritizing the smiles over the miles. It sounds marvelous, and I admire you.

  • Karen : Jun 7th

    It IS your hike! Loving the pictures!

  • pearwood : Jun 7th

    Thanks, Kristine.
    I will be quite happy if I can maintain a mile and a half per hour up and down the AT hills with pack next year.
    Steve / pearwood

  • Kelli : Jun 7th

    Beautiful pink lady’s slippers:)

  • Aunt Terri : Jun 8th

    Stay safe and enjoy this time. I think this whole experience is amazing and I enjoy your shares. Much love and prayers.

  • Wanda Hale : Jun 10th

    Love it. I am the same, stop and take a lot of pictures, enjoy God’s beautiful creations.


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