The Mental Challenge

A series of fragments- as told by Pringles. 

Everyone always refers to the physical challenge of thru hiking the Appalachian Trail, and as hard as that aspect is, I beg to differ that it’s the hardest. The mental challenge is far more difficult, in my opinion. Thru hiking has been a roller coaster of emotion. And a roller coaster physically, literally. But I want to try and convey the emotions that I have experienced in the last 1,100 miles.

I’ve made it past the halfway point (1,094.55 miles). As excited as I am to have made it this far, there have been many days where I feel like I just don’t have the other half in me. 2 more months of hiking. 2 more. It seems like Springer Mountain is forever away. And I know the time will fly by, but when I look in the guidebook and see how many miles I have left.. it has made me feel like I can’t go the distance. What do you do when you think you’re out of motivation to walk every day? Call Mommy.

During one of my lowest days, I signed a log book with these exact words. “My time on the AT might be coming to a close… Don’t think I’m in love with the trail anymore… Pringles.  SOBO ’16. ME-VA?” Then I sat down on a log and cried. Writing down the words that had been on my heart for so many days made it feel real. Am I going home after Harper’s Ferry? Call Mommy. My mom gave me a swift kick in the booty by responding, “I won’t let you give up this easy.” I’ve dreamed of this journey for so long, and I’m thankful to have a support system that won’t let me throw away a dream just because of a few bad days. I constantly have to remind myself that the good days outweigh the bad. The next log book that I signed stated, “Well, in the last log I wrote that my time on the AT might be over… After talking with my mom, she’s given me a swift kick in the butt… and I’ll keep walking. Onward to Georgia. Pringles. SOBO ’16. ME-GA.”

The PA rocks sucked. Hiking through the hottest August ever recorded sucked. The lack of water sucked. But you know what doesn’t suck? The people. Getting to camp with amazing trail family. The views. The cool breeze you feel while standing on top of a mountain. The feeling of accomplishment. I mean come on, I just walked freaking half of the Appalachian Trail!!!! And I’ll walk the other half. I won’t give up that easy.



Instagram- @ashschellhase

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Comments 4

  • jeff s : Sep 13th

    I have to agree with you on mind over matter (physical). No matter how much you hurt if the mind is willing you will be able to overcome. If you body is without pain but your mind is unwilling your body is unable to do anything.

  • David Tozzo : Sep 15th

    You’ve got this! Just think about how amazing it will be at the ems and how proud of yourself you will be!

    • David Tozzo : Sep 15th

      End, Dan auto correct

  • Alon Ish Rubin : Sep 16th

    When i got to ‘three ridges lookout’ before Waynsboro, VA, it was after three or.four days of cold, gloomy and foggy rain. I hate rain. I hate being cold, and i was feeling extremly lonley and beaten down.
    I found service and called my dad. I cried to him on the phone, saying i wanna go home, and that i’m not anymore. His advice was simple – hitch into town, get a shower, relax for the day. These small incidents, the bad days, are nothing in comparison to the good ones and the grang scheme of the trail.
    Good on you for hiking on! Good on you for pushing thru! The mental ascpect of the trail is by far harder than the physical effort.
    Hope you kick the trail’s ass, and remember – never, and i mean never-ever quit on a bad day.


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