New Attempt, New Strategy

Strategy: Don’t have a strategy

In the summer of 2023, I set out to the Colorado Trail for what was supposed to be my first thru-hike ever. I wasn’t exactly physically prepared, yet I had very high expectations of myself. I planned out every single detail of how my hike was supposed to go, and since I had to go back to work, I was on a tight schedule. I planned out every single meal I would eat, along with the exact number of calories in each meal. I spent hours upon hours dehydrating and vacuum sealing. Preparing for my thru-hike took all of my attention. Nothing else mattered. Everything had to go perfectly. 

I look back on how I prepared for that attempt and think “Girl, what the hell were you doing?”. I wore myself out, set too high of expectations, and caused myself to be blind to every opportunity I was given to have a better experience. I missed out on connections, side quests, and even just enjoying a day on the trail because I was so focused on my progress. I thought every change in the schedule was detrimental to my planned finish date.

My strategy was to stick to my plan. Now, my strategy is to have no strategy. 

I will be making another attempt of the Colorado Trail this summer. My plan is to say “yes” more often and to allow myself to have slow days, slow mornings, and slow conversations. I want to make more connections with people. I have learned that sometimes, the people you meet are what keep you going. When I first started my hike, I wanted to be alone as much as possible. By the end of my attempt, I felt so lonely and blamed it on myself for not being able to keep up with people, when in reality it was because I said “no” too often to things that would have been a huge morale boost when I needed it. 

The trail is constantly changing, and so is how I interact with it.

Some days, I would wake up feeling energized and ready to conquer the day only to be met with thunderstorms and a muddy trail. Some days I would wake up thinking “I don’t feel like it”, and be met with beautiful blue bird skies that pushed me through the day. Sometimes I underestimated the elevation gain of a climb and would become worn out, and sometimes I would be met with a few miles of flat, soft terrain that would be my saving grace. I let my lows outweigh my highs because I was so obsessed with my schedule. When I was planning, I expected myself to push through rough days and just bad-ass my way out of it. I never truly embraced the suck, even when I thought I did. The trail teaches you things about yourself that you didn’t know were problems. My problems were that I made myself miserable and that I was overly negative. I don’t even remember most of the trail because I was so focused on the fact that I felt like I wasn’t doing good enough or moving fast enough. Boo-hoo, I know. At least I am self-aware. The Allysa that started the trail last year is a completely different version of who I am now, and I wouldn’t have grown out of that if it weren’t for the trail.

I’m not expecting to finish, but I don’t expect to quit.

My expectation is simply to have as much fun as I possibly can, and learn more about myself. I don’t know if I will ever get this opportunity again, and I know I need to make the best of it. I don’t care about making it to the end because that’s all I cared about last time and it was awful. I don’t care about how many miles I do each day. All I care about now is that I just live deeply in every single moment that I am given. To me, that is what thru-hiking is about. It’s a celebration of life, and that’s exactly how I should treat it. 


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Comments 2

  • Maureen : Apr 1st

    ONE DAY AT A TIME or better yet, ONE MOMENT IN TIME will, hopefully, aid in your new hike! Keep posting, eat when you’re hungry, rest when you need to, and just CARPE DIEM!!!! It’s YOUR journey. Peace….

  • jen l : Apr 5th

    This sounds like a much better approach to the trail, and an analogy for life. Experience the small moments fully and be open to what comes. I look forward to reading more soon. Thanks for sharing. You got this!


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