The Reality of Hiking with a Partner

This morning was the roughest we’ve had to date. I woke up cranky and Fred was certainly not in the best of moods which was not a good combination. We spent the night in the shelter with five other guys and laughed harder than we have to date. I spent half the night worrying if I’d snore and the parts where I did sleep I guess I was snoring, because Fred kept hitting me. I swear if he hit me one more time, I was going to unbury myself from my sleeping bag and hit him back. So this undoubtably contributed to my crankiness and with the damp weather Fred was cold and anxious to get moving. We ONLY had 6 miles of downhill to get to the NOC.

I’m finding myself homesick more than I want to be and as the tagalong, there are days that the trail is “more hard” than I’d like it to be and this results in not having fun. Let’s face it, we get up, pack up our worldly belongings, walk, walk and walk. We end our days around four each afternoon, where we set our home for the night, eat, visit with our hiking friends and go to sleep by 7:30, hiker midnight.

Don’t get me wrong this experience has been one I will treasure for the rest of my life. Everyday is an amazing accomplishment which is where the fun lies. To look what climb is ahead and through the hardships, tears and laughter to look out at the views that you wouldn’t have otherwise seen is a once in a lifetime experience.

The friendships built are next to none. Where else are you going to find kindred spirits who are as crazy as you? One thing I have experienced and observed over the past eighteen days is the dynamics between friends hiking together and couples who are sharing the journey together, are completely different. Friends have never-ending patience, while the couples experience a different set of parameters. Couples expect more from their partner and at times exhibit less patience.

The guys have a longer/better stride and forget that their female partners are usually carrying as much weight in their backpacks as they are and normally have to take twice as many steps to cover the same ground. This is where the lack of patience comes in. When the tears flow, the “man” automatically falls into two thought processes-I have to fix it for her, or she can’t handle it and we have to get off the trail. Most of the time, neither of these apply. I personally cry out of anger and frustration. Is this damn climb ever going to end? Just when you think you must’ve covered that mile of elevation only to realize that you’re only half way there. Thats when the tears flow and your partner who could’ve been done thirty minutes ago is patiently waiting for you to haul your butt up the mountain. He tells you that this is your hike together, but you can see it in his eyes when the solo guys are off and gone, and you know he’s longing to be miles ahead.

Each couple has to find balance in each day and in their relationship to weather what the trail brings and in someway find a way to hike their own individual hike. We obviously are in the infancy stages of our journey and when the tears flow the best thing my husband can do is let me work through it, give me a hug when I need it and exhibit outwardly the patience of a saint. Each day we find a little more balance and when we are rewarded with a green tunnel, or a vista of magnificent views showing us just how far we’ve come for the day or past couple of days, the bond gets even stronger and we live to hike another day.

Image taken by J Stephen Conn

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