“No Pain, No Maine”

no_rain_no_pain_no_maine-med When trying to tackle a sizable goal such as hiking the Appalachian Trail you will undoubtedly find yourself at some point or another, often many times, struggling to achieve this goal and losing focus of what your mission is. You’ll need something to remind you of what you are trying to accomplish, a sort of purpose behind your purpose. For me it is the phrase “No pain, no Maine” (The “No Rain” part will come in soon). This simple four worded mantra has, and still is, helping me get through all of the obstacles that come with planning my thru hike. Obviously when making a commitment of leaving the world as you know it, heading to the woods for three to six months, and backpacking a good length of the East Coast, you’ll be making sacrifices that may seem to derail your attention from the ultimate goal. When I find myself in these situations I recite to myself “No pain, No Maine” reminding myself that although I’m losing some type of pleasure, it will benefit my hiking trip and I’ll thank myself later.


Financial decisions are where I find myself repeating this phrase over and over again. Whether it be deciding what to eat for dinner or buying new gear I scrutinize each dollar I spend. I make coffee for a living so as you can assume I’m not exactly jumping into swimming pools filled with one-hundred dollar bills or taking my pet monkey sky diving out of a solid gold airplane (I can still dream though), I’ll be saving each paycheck up until the week before I leave. With this kind of pressure I want to ensure that every thing I purchase is well justified and then some. This may mean eating Ramen instead of going out for a nice steak dinner, or seeing a new tent come out that’s a few ounces lighter than the one I have, but I just repeat to myself “no pain, no Maine”. I have to remind my self, this will make my experience on the trail much more pleasant. What I did to aid my saving was make an envelope dedicated to hold my trail money, I then tuck it away in the middle of my “The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe” book, shut it, and put it on my bookshelf. That way it is out of sight and out of mind, I open it to put more money in it and then forget about it.

It then transfers to all other aspects of pre-hike preparations. Is it ideal to be doing a training hike in the pouring rain? No, but guess what?! “No pain, no Maine”. How about making sure all of your belongings are packed up and stored somewhere before you leave? “No pain, no Maine”. Quitting your job? Pssssh “No pain, no Maine”. Although these are inconveniences you must remember that they are indeed your choices, no one is making you do any of this just to go out and hike for a few months. You must, must, must, remember the sacrifices you are making now, are all for a greater purpose and it is with this determination that will make reaching the top of Katahdin all the more worth it.

As you can imagine the chant would be indispensable while actually on the trail. Whether it’s five days of constant rain (This is when you can start saying “No Rain, No Pain, No Maine”), mice running over top of you in shelters, or a tough mountain, you’ll need a little motivation to remind you why you’re doing what you’re doing. In it’s essence “no pain, no Maine” means if you can’t overcome the pain, the hard times, and the challenges, you’ll have a hell of a time making it the length of the trail to Maine. Without the difficulty, what kind of victory would that be? I just know without a doubt in my mind that each challenge I faced over the course of over two thousand miles will spew out of me from the top of Mt. K in the form of sweet sweet victory.

This technique can be applied to several different goals and doesn’t have to be strictly tied down to hiking the AT. It may not sound as cool as “No pain, no Maine” but it’ll still work, even better off if it rhymes! Want a new job? Car? House? Want to fly to Mars? Just set the goal, know why you want to accomplish it, and just remind yourself of that anytime you’re looking doubt in it’s fiery eyes.

Happy Hiking!

Michael Osborne

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