To Go or Not To Go
To go, or not to go, that is the question. A question that enters and stays in my mind multiple times per day (thanks a lot Shakespeare and COVID-19). COVID-19 has been around for over a year now. Last year, I made the hard decision to postpone my AT thru-hike for my safety and the safety of others. I truly believed that a year would pass and this terrible virus would be gone and everyone would be ok. How naive we all were at the beginning. Now, a year has passed and it’s finally the time for me to embark on this incredible journey, even with COVID-19 still trekking on.
This year period of waiting (after three years of planning) has been excruciating. I feel like my mind has shifted from anxiousness stemming from excitement to stressfulness stemming from just wanting to “get it out of the way” because I’ve waited so long at this point. I am aware that having a year of reflection during my postponement has been a fulfilling and non-regrettable use of my time. I’ve enjoyed time with my family and friends and have made incredible memories even in the wake of COVID-19. I’ve learned to be more patient and grateful for all I have rather than what I don’t have. I’ve counted all my blessings and grew a little more in my life mentally, which are all positives in my book.
I believe that this waiting year has been necessary for me and a blessing in disguise. However, I still feel like I’ve been just waiting around to start my life. These unwarranted feelings of inadequacy creep in when I see others my age at different points in their life. I feel like my life won’t officially “start” in my eyes until after I attempt the trail. These feelings have caused frustration because I should be so excited about this adventure, and my anxiety has hindered these happy feelings. However, I am actively attempting to squash these feelings and practice mindfulness daily.
Now, other questions arise in my mind with regards to COVID-19. Do I hide my excitement and joy for this occasion to appease others, or do I acknowledge and accept that not everyone is on my side when it comes to the decision to still continue the hike? I choose the latter. I am choosing to embark on this exciting attempt to reach Katahdin. And I’m doing this for me. Not anyone else. If this seems selfish to you, the reader, I am not sorry. Don’t think I haven’t been playing this game of mental gymnastics constantly. I am very self-aware of my decision and its potential effects.
However, last year I chose others, and this year I am choosing myself. I will follow all the necessary COVID-19 guidelines and protocol while being extremely cautious while on the trail and in town during my re-supplies. I am vaccinated, but I also promise to be courteous of the siz-foot guidelines and double mask whenever I’m in town. I will remain updated with the news of the spread of the virus and take all the necessary steps to diminish any potential transmissions.
Organizing my thoughts and writing this blog has already been helpful in shifting my mindset. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts on this platform and read other’s stories and thoughts. My start date is less than a month away, so now I am getting excited again sorting my gear and training for the trail. Can’t wait to see all of you out there and be surrounded by fellow trekkers. Good luck to everyone, and hike on!
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Don’t make yourself anxious or worried about it. You were never in an age group that needed to be worried, and you’re unlikely to encounter anyone who is frail enough to worry about. Meanwhile in Florida everyone is jammed into bars and restaurants with no masks for a year and we’re all fine.
I’m glad you were able to get vaccinated as it’s not yet available everywhere in the States. It sounds like you plan to be as responsible as possible, so, FWIW, I def support your hiking!!
I am a 70 year old senior who’s Appalachian Trail seed for adventure started in 2015. I started serious planning three years ago with a target date of next week. I didn’t go through the agony of postponing but I can identify with many of our thoughts. I too will have both shots and I too plan on exercising precautions. Dream of a lifetime, I get it!
Trust me, does no good to beat yourself up. I’m 70, the seed for my A.T. trek was planted in 2015 and after a hip replacement (2018 bicycle accident) and two cancer surgeries along the way, I am heading for Springer next week. I too found myself wondering (or more appropriately beating myself up) if I should follow the A.T. Conservancy and put it off thill 2022, well I don’t have as many tomorrows left. Like you, I will have had my shots (postponed the trip a week to get the second) and will be practicing all precautions. its a walk of a lifetime, use your head and stay safe. Enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.