Not a Trail Update #2

My first “trail update” last week was not from the trail because we temporarily got off in PA. We got back on the trail again on Saturday, and now my trail update is not from the trail because we permanently got off. It turns out we’re not thru hikers.

AT midpoint marker- not relevant to us even if we did finish

Everything I’ve ever read about the trail describes the beginning of the thru hike as “exhilarating”.  It starts to get harder when the honeymoon phase ends. But it wasn’t ever exhilarating. It was really boring. We only gave it 76 miles, and through the most unenjoyable, least scenic part of the trail in Pennsylvania, so it’s probable it would have been completely different if we started in Springer or Katahdin. But whenever we ran into other flip-floppers doing the same, redundant, boring, rocky walking we were, they loved it. They were so thrilled to be out there, they didn’t care that being “in nature” meant walking through the same dead forest for an entire day with no plants or animals in sight. We didn’t pass a scenic view point for days, and looking through the AWOL guide that was what we could expect our hike to be like for a long while. And with nothing to look at, my mind wandered a lot. I thought about how long five months is, and what we could be doing with that time instead. There is so much of the world I want to see that stretches beyond a 2,000 mile trail along the East Coast.

Quitting sucks. It would be worse if it wasn’t intentional, if we had gotten hurt or if we just weren’t physically prepared to take on the trail. I think we could have done it all if we wanted to. But you have to want to. Before I started, I really wanted to do it all. I thought about it and planned for it and told everyone I know over the last year that this is what we’d be doing. And then we went 76 miles and changed our mind.

Our last white blaze

We’re still going to hike all of NJ and NY, and I’d like to get Maine and New Hampshire in this summer. We might end up doing a good portion of the trail in section hikes, but continuously walking the same path for five months felt too much like staying in one place once we started doing it. I’m disappointed we didn’t finish it. I’m disappointed we didn’t love it. But now we’ve got time to figure out what our next adventure is going to be.

For those of you that love the thru hike enough to push past the boring days, I really admire you. But for those of you that don’t, there is no shame in changing your mind. There is still an entire world of adventure out there.

Happy with our decision in Harper’s Ferry

(As a quick side note– the dog didn’t have anything to do with quitting, he actually made the days a little less dull. So if you’re thinking of bringing your pup, I’d still say give it a shot.)


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Comments 5

  • Buffalo + Mumble : Apr 15th

    Thru-hiking isn’t for everyone, but section hiking definitely sounds perfect for you guys! Glad you’re happy with your decision. Happy adventuring!!

    • Barbara richey : Apr 19th

      Thank you for being honest. The trail is beautiful but, strenuous and a real challenge. Sometimes you forget exactly why you’re there while carefully watching your footing. Then oops…..there’s a glimpse of God’s work. Good luck??

  • Joseph : Apr 19th

    Hey guys the trail never leaves, people do, just saying the trail will always be there with open arms to take you in once again when it is time.

  • Rayana : Apr 20th

    Aw, I’m sorry to hear that. It sounded like the hike started off really rough in PA.. It’s a hard state, so don’t feel alone. The only way I got thru that state was laughing and complaining with the other NOBO hikers.

    Best Wishes for your future adventures!!

    Rayana (Acorn)

  • Linda : Apr 24th

    Bummer it didn’t work, but hey you tried! That’s a lot more than most people can say! I wouldn’t have even tried. I’m impressed by you both! and Ollie too!


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