Sticks and stones may break my bones, but fear will never stop me.

I start hiking in 100 days.

The days seem to be slipping away and soon enough I will wake up and it will be March 22nd. I’ve mostly feel excitement about my thru-hike but, without a full-time job and with my gear research complete I have so much free- time that the fear has started to creep in. I have decided to face my fears head on and write them down so I can work on addressing them one at a time and rationalize them away.

1. Failure

I have no job, I told my landlord I am moving out, I’ve spent about $1,500 on gear, and I told all of Facebook that I am attempting a thru-hike. At this point, there is no turning back. I think it is only normal to be afraid of failing. Unfortunately, the odds are against me. Only 1/4 of hikers who attempt a thru-hike complete it. And I read that 1/4 of the people attempting a thru-hike drop out within the first 35 miles. That means I am equally as likely to quit in the first week as I am of hiking from Georgia to Maine.

2. Loneliness

To be clear, I am not afraid of being a solo hiker, there are already 22 other people registered to start their thru-hike on the same day as me. But, I am afraid that I will miss my family and friends and that I will be lonely climbing into my tent by myself every night. I feel like I did the summer before I went to college and all I talked about was how I would have no friends. Hopefully, I make life long friends on the trail like I did in college and this fear was for nothing. Only time will tell.

3. Being Cold

This might seem trivial but it is my biggest on-trail fear. Some people are afraid of spiders or bears, or hitchhiking, or being miserable when it rains. I am afraid of being cold. I am a habitually cold person which is why sleeping in a tent when there is snow on the ground scares me. There is a saying among the hiking community that “you pack your fears”, I am definitely doing this with cold weather gear. I have way more than necessary.

4. Injury

I must admit, this fear should probably be bigger than it is. I don’t think I was afraid of this until other people put it in my head. The scariest part about getting injured to me is that it could end my hike and I don’t want it to end until I summit Mt. Katahdin.

5. Life after my hike

A lot of people talk about post trail depression. I am afraid of that. How do I reintegrate into society after hiking, and living in a tent for 6 months? I don’t have a job lined up for after, I don’t know where I will live and although this excites me because my options are limitless I am afraid. Hopefully, I find some clarity on my hike and my post trail path in life will be clear to me.

No matter what happens I can be proud of myself for trying something.

I will go to Georgia and attempt my thru-hike no matter how big my fears get. I will try. But, if anyone has any recommendations on how to suppress fears, I am all ears.

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Comments 15

  • Avatar
    Odysseus-Mick Strand : Dec 13th

    Best of luck, Mackenzie! I am heading SOBO in July. Hopefully, we cross paths as we finish our epic journey.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Mackenzie : Dec 16th

      I can’t wait to see you out there! Happy hiking and best of luck.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Bill Yeadon : Dec 13th

    Focus on the feeling of accomplishment when you summit Katahdin. That feeling will accompany you for the rest of your life. I wish I was going.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Mackenzie : Dec 16th

      I can’t wait for the experience of a lifetime. I will not let the fears stop me! Your time to hike will come.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Vince Piquet : Dec 13th

    As far as cold is concerned, what has held me in good stead so far,(ME, NH, & VT on a start of a SOBO), is merino wool. Lightweight, does not itch, warm when wet, does not give off bo for a long time, and does not melt by a campfire like synthetics. Good luck in your journey. Fair winds and following seas.
    Vince aka The Dude

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Mackenzie : Dec 16th

      Thanks! I have a merino wool top I plan on hiking in when it is cold.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    April and Jake : Dec 13th

    Biggest piece of advice: Just remember why you’re out there. Listen to your body. Go with flow. Each day all of you have to do is take a step & you’re on your way to your goal, it’s this amazing feeling being in control of your destiny. Enjoy, you are going to have the best experience of your lifetime.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Mackenzie : Dec 16th

      Thanks! I am so excited for the freedom the hike will bring. I wrote my “why I am hiking” and I know that will help keep me on the trail. I am determined to be part of the 1/4 that makes it to Katahdin.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Robert : Dec 13th

    You can do it ! This is a magical time .I love through hiking . Good luck .

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Mackenzie : Dec 16th

      Thank you. I can’t wait for it!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Katie brown : Dec 13th

    Instead of trying to suppress your fears, face them head-on, everyday. If you’re afraid of being cold (very real fear I had on the CDT) make sure you have good insulation and dry clothes and warm sleeping bag. If you’re afraid of injury, be smart, start slow, take care of your feet, etc… fear is only harmful if it keeps you from doing what your heart desires. Prepping yourself with tools to cope with your fears will enable you to make smart choices, be aware of your body and self, and will bring you closer to Katahdin! Good luck!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Mackenzie : Dec 16th

      Thanks! That is some great advice. I am not going to let my fears stop me! I can’t wait till March 22 to start my journey to Katahdin.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Joshua Johnson : Dec 15th

    I think you have the right mindset: courage. The ability to face the fear(s) and keep moving forward. Go for it. Most of your fears are within your control and those that aren’t might prevent you from “finishing” in a single hike but I met some SOBOs this year who had to take months off due to injury and get back on the trail later to finish: But they still did it! Find your “why” for hiking the trail and let it motivate you, but be flexible even to your motivations so that you can be honest with your body and goals. Never quit on a bad day and you’ll be in a position to be part of the 1/4 that summit. Be safe, have fun!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Mackenzie : Dec 16th

      I know my whys and that is why I will still hike no matter how big my fears are. I love the advice to never quit on a bad day. I will be doing everything in my power to summit Katahdin.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Kelsey Jo : Dec 20th

    I completely understand how you are feeling! I’m planning my 2018 NOBO thru-hike and will be starting only a few days after you. Sending out the warmest of wishes (see what I did there?) during these final days leading up to your start! Hope to see you out there!

    Reply

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