The push and pull of unrealized goals.

This is a stream of consciousness post (SoC), not a well thought out, edited and polished post.

I have been off the AT now for about 2.5 weeks; my second time off the trail. The first time was a week at home to recuperate and take care of some necessities. The second time I got off was, I thought, permanent; the reasons I noted in a post here. Now I am seriously contemplating getting back on – as a section hiker.

I find my emotional state right back where it was when I decided to attempt the AT; bleak. I am thinking about the trail and how my previous tribe are doing, where they are and romanticizing, I know, the hike with the blue skies and the warm weather. I did not return to work because (one: I’d have to search, apply, be hired) I don’t enjoy what I’ve been doing and I’m not ready – read:┬ástrong enough – to go back to the hell that I left. My knees are still very much a problem for me and yet I am ignoring that and thinking that I can return to backpacking a 30# pack over mountains. I know it’s unreasonable and yet I am emotionally tied to my ‘dream’ or summer ’17 plan; hiking the AT. It’s such an emotional thing, to embrace something that resonates with one’s core and then have to abandon it – unfinished. I miss my hiker friends, the goal, the planning – the whole experience – being away from ‘real life’ and being in that surreal hiker community where the only thing that matters is the location of water, shelter and food.

I’ve spent the day in a fog and looking over a map to see how I can get back to the AT and how long/miles away it is, the cost of a cab to get there, where on the trail would I be and who would be there from my tramily. The option to just get back on and not be with any of those that I’ve bonded with – well, that’s NOT an option. I would get back to the bubble – that’s what I miss, not just the trail but my companions. If I wanted to be lonely, I’d stay home.

And yet, I ask myself: your knees are shot-to-shit, perhaps even stress fractures of the tibia since the pain is barely tolerable and hasn’t lessened much off the trail, what are the odds that, after a day or two, possibly a few more, you have to reconcile that you just can’t do it?? It’s not a matter of how much you want to endure to keep going – at some point you have to realize, maybe, that humping a backpack over hill-and-dale isn’t in the cards, maybe not this summer. On, off, on, off, …on …off?

I’ve read some blogs and posts on social sites of women who are having a hard time, not just the physical challenge but more the emotional challenge of backpackcing for weeks and months – usually solo – and the perseverence to keep going. I applaud those who are hanging tough!! It’s not our nature, we are comfort and social creatures and that is NOT a bad thing – it’s how we are made. I missed my family and friends and that won’t go away if I were to resume my hike. My concern now is my physical ability to do it – to avoid getting off again (and the third time is the charm, as the saying goes – I wouldn’t deny that, after three attempts, it’s just not meant to be if I have to stop and go home). I don’t expect any hikers to understand, especially males, they are all about ‘the goal’ and the subtleties don’t apply to them – usually. It’s my personal turmoil.

I’m undecided right at this moment: the logistics of getting there, a ride, time, etc., are a significant consideration in addition to my concern about my knees. Who knows, maybe tomorrow will bring a whole new perspective – maybe today has just been a day of nostalgia about unfinished dreams.


Affiliate Disclosure

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.

Comments 1

  • Chris K : Jun 26th

    I have had at least a month of zeros due to 2 bouts of bronchitis including a 3 night hospital stay in Hiawassee. I’m at now 700+ miles. I also have sle lupus and sjogrens. I plan to flip flop at Harpers Ferry. I may or may not complete a full thru hike,but either way it’s definitely been a life changing experience for me. I enjoyed your article and Happy Trails !!! Aka Inspector Gadget


What Do You Think?