Insert Trail Name … Here

No matter the trail, its location or length, the dynamic of planning is still the same.

  • You have to go through your gear.
  • Make decisions on what to bring (or not).
  • Is there gear that needs to be replaced or updated?
  • Have a game plan as to how you’re going to approach the trail.
  • What is your timeline? Are there hard and/or soft dates you need to start, or be done by?
  • Your intended mileage.
  • Your food plan.
  • Route(s) to take (on NOT).

And MOST important, before you even step one foot on the trail, what would cause you to cancel or end your hike.

But What Would Take Us off Trail?

Normally, there are only one of three things that would take us off trail, or keep us from starting at our intended date/location.

1 – Family emergency that requires our immediate and prolonged presence.
2 – An injury of such magnitude wherein we could not start/continue.
3 – Dangerous weather, or trail closures that would not enable us to start/continue.

Having a bad day (or days), because we are cold, wet, tired or sore, are negligent factors for us. However, this is not to say that we certainly haven’t complained about the aforementioned. It just means that they’re not excuses to quit. Remarkably, there’s only been one day, in all our adventures, wherein we both wanted to quit. One day, after a particularly bad series of events during our 2014 PCT thru-hike , we decided that if a helicopter landed at our campsite, we would ditch our gear and go home. (It had to do with climbing the wrong snowy pass, lost shoes in a river crossing, and running out of fuel. With several more days before a resupply option.). Of course, there was no helicopter, so we pressed on.

What if There Was a Pandemic?

Never in a million years did we ever consider that a pandemic would halt us in our tracks!  So far, only 13 countries have not reported cases involving COVID-19, but that’s sure to change. March 18, the governor of New Mexico requested all those who enter New Mexico to “self-isolate” for 14 days.  Out of due diligence, the CDTC, with which we booked our shuttle, recently canceled their shuttle/water service until the April 17. This too we expect to modify in the coming days.

We had intended a NOBO thru-hike this year starting April 15. There are options that will avail us to still start on the 15th. But now a tiny little devious mutant of a virus, COVID-19 to be exact, has the song from the Clash, Should I Stay or Should I Go, running through our minds like an earworm.  

We are currently wading through a sea of ever-evolving messages.  The projections on the availability of resupplying in communities along the way, and the impact our presence in said communities would/could have, keep evolving. Many of these messages appear “mixed” and/or contradictory. I chalk up these “mixed” messages to how communities  large and small (including thru-hikers) are responding to the moving target that is COVID-19.  As does the pandemic, these messages evolve daily.  Thus, our quandary of what to do in the long run.

So Many Options. So Many Variables

Unlike so many others, their window of “opportunity” for a thru-hike is small. We are lucky in the sense that we have options, and have not thrown in the 2020 CDT towel. Not yet. We could start on a different day.  A different year.  We could go SOBO or section hike.  We could cancel all together and play outside close to home.  For us it’s not an all or nothing venture.  Time, mostly, is on our side.   We are closely monitoring the pandemic hot spots, specifically for our state and the states the CDT travels through. We are prepared to stay home or go hike. It all depends.

It All Depends on the Weather

We have decided to treat this pandemic like we do weather on the trail.  It (the weather) is what it is going to be and there’s nothing you can do to change it.  The only control you have over it is how you approach it.

  1. Hunker down and wait it out.
  2. Press on, as if everything is just “peachy.”
  3. Press on with an exit route, out of the “weather,” in mind.
  4. Look for another route to avoid the worst of, or the “weather” completely.
  5. Call it, as it not worth being that miserable or risking our lives.

The irony of this analogy, is that up until this pandemic, our concerns about being able to complete the actually CDT revolved around the actual weather!

Stand by, to Stand By

In the next few weeks we will be evaluating the “weather,” and what it means for us.  Especially, when it comes to our homefront. Our daughter, who suffers from chronic Lyme disease, is on self-quarantine from work, per doctors order.  Above all things, we are concerned for her health and what COVID-19 poses for her. We hope she is able to avoid all aspects of this “weather.” However, until she is out of the “woods” we will be making no venture into the woods.

As we are eternal optimists, we are hoping that this “storm” will pass quickly and without much “damage.”

All we can do is hope for the best. Whatever that may be.

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