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.
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.
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.
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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Best of luck, Mackenzie! I am heading SOBO in July. Hopefully, we cross paths as we finish our epic journey.
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.
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
You can do it ! This is a magical time .I love through hiking . Good luck .
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!
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!