Setting Sights on Shorter Hikes Instead of the Long Trail

With a heavy heart, I am announcing that I am not hiking the Long Trail this year. I appreciate all the positive feedback and support I received when I announced that I was going to hike the Long Trail, and all the positivity helped drive me. I really wanted to complete a thru-hike, but I didn’t feel I was ready for the Long Trail. After my experience in the Great Smoky Mountains, it has become clear to me that I am not physically or mentally ready to tackle a long thru-hike, especially something as challenging as the Long Trail. This was not a decision I made lightly; there were several factors that led me to this decision.

My trip to the Smoky Mountains did not go as well as I hoped, and instead of diving into the Long Trail, I felt it would be better to do smaller trips to help build my experience. As I said before, Illinois doesn’t offer any mountainous terrain and I need more experience adjusting and preparing myself, both mentally and physically, for hiking in mountainous regions. I think making time to take some short trips throughout the year is exactly what I need to build my confidence. Getting a bunch of small trips under my belt is a better way to start rather than jumping right into a 273-mile thru-hike.

Important Life Decisions

My sister and her family live in Massachusetts, so I do not get to see them as often as I would like. My niece (5) and my nephew (3) are growing up and I want to be able to spend time with them as often as I can. My sister asked if I wanted to go on vacation with them to Cape Cod during the second week of July. There wasn’t anything that would keep me from going to Cape Cod with them, so I was going to have to schedule the Long Trail around it. This gave me either the three weeks before or three weeks after to complete the thru-hike. As someone with little to no mountain hiking experiences, I didn’t want to put myself under a time crunch; just hiking was going to be difficult enough.

It’s weird. I feel like I am making the right decision, but at the same time I feel a lot of regret. I made this decision and announcement and it was going to be this amazing life experience, and now it’s not going to happen. It can be very difficult to surround yourself with disappointment, when in reality I haven’t disappointed anyone. There are so many things I thought I would have done by now, and I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything.

Pemi Loop

The only way to shake the feeling of disappointment is get out there and try. It is time to start getting some smaller hikes under my belt. So this July I will be heading to the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and will be hiking the Pemigewasset (Pemi) Loop. This hike traverses nine 4k mountains in the Pemigewasset region in New Hampshire. The hike I have planned is about 30 miles and I plan to complete it in two days.

Here’s the trail on my Guthook app.

I’m not giving up on a longer thru-hike. At this point, I am hopeful that I will hike the Long Trail in 2019, maybe.

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Comments 4

  • Josh Johnson : Jul 3rd

    There are other trails, my friend. It sounds like you’re making the best decision for you and I wish you good luck out there!

    • Matt : Jul 4th

      Thanks, I appreciate it.

  • Bruce : Jul 4th

    Given the limited experience you describe, allowing only 2 days to complete a 30 mile hike traversing 9 4K peaks is not Do not create enough time to enjoy the trail. Do not create unnecessary pressure. I think taking 3 days would allow time to enjoy the trail and provide a much better experience.

    • Matt : Jul 4th

      I actually am going to bring a little extra food in case it turns into a three day. I have a contingency plan. Thanks for the advice.


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