I Start Tomorrow…The Unanswerable Questions.
I have completed a few thru-hikes in my life. The Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand, the Hayduke Trail, the Colorado Trail and the Low 2 High Route among them. No matter which trail, my feelings just before the start of an expedition tend to stay the same. A little bit of nervousness, excitement, anxiety, stoke and everything in between. Today, the day before an attempt of the Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide Trail back to back, is no different. I start tomorrow and there are still so many unanswerable questions.
Will my body hold up?
This is a question I always come up against before a hiking trip of any length. The mind is an important part of a long journey, but the body is what will carry you. I wonder – will I roll my ankle on the second day? Will I get a stress fracture in my foot from a rocky trail? These questions can only be answered by doing the thing. I hope that my previous experience and fitness will serve me well and that luck is on my side.
Who will I meet and what will our interactions be like?
Many of the past trails I’ve walked have not had much in the way of a social scene. When I walked the Te Araora I went Northbound, which is not the common direction. I hiked the Colorado Trail late in the season, and the Hayduke, well that “trail” is so remote I was lucky if I saw anyone.
This will be my first time starting a popular long trail in peak season. I will always make sure to keep some distance because of COVID, but I am still wondering what it will be like. Will I get a trail name? Will I become part of a group of folks? I am interested in who I’ll meet out there and curious to hear their stories.
What will present itself for my partner and I?
I am hiking with my partner. We have done all of our thru-hikes as a couple. I am very grateful we can share in these goals together. Every time we embark on a trip we never know what will come up for us as individuals and as a collective. This trip is no different. In fact, this trip will be the biggest thing either of us has ever attempted, period.
We know that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows out there. Not every moment is a perfect REI advertisement (thankfully). But we also know that both challenging and enjoyable moments bring opportunities for growth. We are both excited to see what will come up for us on these trails.
How will it feel to finish…..if I do?
It takes effort to even make it to the start of a trail. With my work at Outward Bound we always say to students that sometimes the hardest part is just showing up. If I show up and then I finish how will it feel? Will I feel accomplished? Tired? Excited? Sad? I know that something will feel different – I am just not sure what that may be. Whether I finish by quitting, by doing just one trail, or by completing the intended two trails this year – I am curious to see what it will feel like.
Here We Go!
This is it. I’m hoping for a smooth transition to Amicalola Falls State Park tomorrow. From there I’ll be on my way to answering these questions for myself – as well as all the others I haven’t yet thought to ask!
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