Swallow Your Pride and Be Honest
For those of you who are unaware, I made the decision to get off trail a few weeks ago due to the unexpected passing of a family member. But that wasn’t the whole reason I got off trail – even though that’s what I wanted to tell myself. It was more of the icing on the cake. I was struggling. I told myself I’d go home, take care of business, regroup, and then make a decision. Easier said than done. I think I jumped into this hike for all the wrong reasons.
Is thru-hiking for me? Maybe not. Is that heartbreaking? Absolutely! I fell into the trap of thinking my hike needed to be the epitome of a thru-hike. Maybe my journey won’t be linear but it will be my hike.
In those weeks I spent on trail I learned a lot about myself. I learned that the weather affects my mood more than I’d like to admit, I learned that maybe I’m not as mentally strong as I’d like, and that I am far from a patient person. I may regret getting off trail but I can be a very stubborn person and my fear was by forcing myself to thru-hike I would ruin hiking and my love for the outdoors.
This is my hike and I’ll do what I want, dammit! Alright, tantrum over.
One of the many reasons I decided to hike the AT was to meet people and make new friends. I can confidently say I accomplished that. The norms of society don’t apply to trail life and that is more freeing than you can imagine. It leads to this amazing trail community and fosters lifelong bonds with the most unexpected friends.
One of those friendships is leading me on my next adventure (shout-out to fellow trek blogger Bethany Snap Varner). A road trip that will take me to six states and one country that I’ve never had the chance to explore. This trip will provide me with new trails to hike, new mountains to enjoy, and the opportunity to reevaluate why I fell in love with hiking.
Will I ever truly thru-hike the AT? Your guess is as good as mine. Will I become a badass, fly by the seat of my pants section hiker? You bet your ass I will. False starts can be a blessing.
Sometimes we forget to make our own definition of life and fall victim to the one that’s provided.
Food for thought: “It’s funny how decisions, no matter how big or how small they seem in the moment, always lead to something.”
Stay tuned for some soul-searching and future adventure junkie endeavors.
Love, your self-proclaimed adventurer, Mad Lib.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.
One day it’d like to thru-hike this trail..think it would be good for my heart, mind and soul!
Thank you for this. The majority of AT hikers make the same decision as you. For future wannabes it could be any one of us. Thanks for keeping it real
We are all thru hikers one section at a time! Winter hiking in the mountains this year is tough.
Safe travels for you and Bethany!
it’s still amazing and more than most people would do! whatever your reasons you are still an inspiration and i’m envious that you even started the journey! live with no regrets and find fun along the way! can’t wait to hear about your road trip and take fun pics of crazy road side attractions!
Last year my 22 year old son and I started at Srpinger with a goal of 50% of the AT. We made it to Fontanna! And we are proud! Next month heading out to Fontanna and heading north. Shooting for 2-15 nights, which would put us somewhere between Hot Springs and Erwin. Looking forward to it very much. It has had the effect of becoming a section hiker and the AT lifestyle is sticking with us, more than some who do a thru-hike in one year and don’t return. Neither is right or wrong . . just telling you to be encouraged and look forward to next time and the next adventure!
I know, I know, 2 nights would put us at Clingman’s Dome. I misspoke. Our goals are somewhere between Hot Springs and Erwin. Thanks.
Not finishing a thru hike is fine. You have a long life ahead of you. Much better to try then to never start! I started a NP course, got halfway through and quit – and I too hate quitting! But, if I had not started then i would still be thinking I want to do this. Really, the only regret is the person who dreams about something but never attempts.
You are still over 100 miles ahead of me who has yet to go one step.
This was so relatable! I quit at 740 miles without any better of a reason than I was bored and tired of the rain. Which felt like a piss poor excuse to tell my enthusiastic family and friends. But I think many many people feel the same way and either quit but make up another excuse, or keep trudging on and have a miserable time. Way to keep it real!
I read a lot of myself in your blog, thank you for that.
It is better to stop and enjoy life, as well as take the time to mourn, than to push through and be miserable. Own your decision as it is yours to make!
Good luck in your travels Lexi.
The best comment you made in my opinion was “false start”. You didn’t quit…..you just jumped the gun on this one…. regroup and try again!