Mental Preparations for a Thru-Hike
Anyone who has told a person their plans to a attempt a thru-hike has inevitably heard the response, “Why?”
And I would not doubt that many, like myself, would like to reply, “Why not?”
Obviously, having a reason to walk from Maine to Georgia (or vice-versa) other than “why not” is going to be important during my/your time on the trail.
Here are a few of my WHYs:
- Time to think. That sounds awfully vague as I write this, but there are a lot of things on my mind! In the normal day-to-day there is a lot of noise, which can have quite an impact on our decisions. I look forward to the time for self-examination and contemplation without those distractions.
- Get back into Nature
- Now is the best opportunity I may ever have to do this, and I have the support of my husband (and dog)
- Me vs. the Trail – this is a challenge for me to conquer, and I want to prove I can do it.
- Why not?!
As I began my thru-hike planning, I of course stumbled upon thetrek.co, where I again and again came across recommendations to read Appalachian Trials, which I finally did after putting it off for months. I already had my list of “Why,” but I found the additional exercise, making a list of what it would mean to me when I did finish the trail and a list of what it would mean if I didn’t finish the trail, significant in my preparations; my reasons for wanting to hike became less murky pond and more glacial lake. Prior to reading Zach Davis’ book, I’d never considered “what if I don’t finish,” but only faced my hike with the sheer determination to finish. Listing the benefits of the hike and what I hope to gain “when I successfully hike the Appalachian Trail…” strengthened my heart & soul’s desire to complete the Appalachian Trail.
The first thing that came to mind was my relationship with nature; I feel I have too often taken the beautiful landscape around me for granted. I spent nearly twenty years of my life surrounded by the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges and rarely got out to explore them. I want to reacquaint myself with nature, and hope that my time on the AT will rouse me to explore the wilderness trails across the United States (and world).
When I complete the Appalachian Trail, there is no doubt I will be filled with an immense sense of accomplishment; I will know I can do anything if I set my mind to it. I will know I am a badass! Along with my badassery will undoubtedly come a pair of killer legs. I’m looking forward to being a badass with quads of steel.
I also expect that at the end of this journey I will possess a much greater appreciation for my husband’s love and support. Please, don’t take this the wrong way, as I already immensely appreciate his love and support. BUT- I’ve never hiked over 2,000 miles on my own, with him and the dog meeting me along the way to resupply and encourage me. I can’t anticipate how much it will mean to me.
Much like with physical preparations, I feel there is only so much I can do to “get my mind right” (as Coach Tony would say) before I hit the trail. Here are the ways that I am mentally preparing myself:
- Know my why and the consequences if I fail
- Physically prepare so that my mind never has to question my body’s ability
- Accept things as they come, and understand no amount of planning will prepare me for actually being on the trail.
- Remember that every moment is part of the journey
I am currently within a month of my planned start date, and my mind is more at ease than in previous months. Hopefully this is a sign that I am as prepared and I can be!
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.