Breaking The Schedule

6:00 A.M: *Alarm goes off*



Get dressed


Brush teeth

“Oh no, I’m late…”

Grab keys, coat, and bag

Leave house Run for train..

The commute is so stressful.

“Have to make the 7:24. Otherwise, I’ll be late again. I can’t slip up. The boss has it in for me!”

Train’s here

No seats left. Standing again..

The Grind of Life

From the moment you wake up. Actually, it’s before you go to sleep; carefully planning in five-minute intervals how long each of the morning’s tasks will take. Customising a schedule for the pre-work obligations.

Then, when the alarm goes off, trying to lazily convince yourself that the schedule is flawed, because if you can shower in three minutes instead of five, brush your teeth while eating toast, skip the coffee and just buy it at the station, then you can afford to lay under your warm duvet for another ten blissful minutes before the snoozed alarm assaults you again.

One of many alarms, all set 10-minutes apart to ensure you get out of bed before the point of no return.

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”

The constant ticking of the clock. The oppressive motion of time. Always taking minutes and seconds away when we need them, and seeming to slow down when we want them to behind us. Our lives are always rigorously dictated by the passing of time.

I feel that pressure constantly. It’s been drummed into me by obligation and institution since I was a teenager and responsible for my own timekeeping.

My paper-round started at 6 am. 7 days-a-week, for 2 years. Back home in time to shower and eat breakfast before school or my Saturday job.

Years later, it was full-time work.

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

And now, on the PCT, I should be able to finally decompress, relax, let go of this constant scheduling and self-imposed pressure to work a routine.

But I can’t do it. I’m still making sure I am in bed, ready to sleep by 9 pm. I’m up at 5 am, out of camp by 6:30 am, walking until 3 or 4 pm. I have to get my 20 miles, minimum.

For what?

If you don’t know already, California had its heaviest snowfall this winter since records began. The path ahead is blocked with snow. There’s no reason to push hard. Why start the day early when I could be taking it easy?


My brain is constantly telling me off for not being more disciplined. Rigid in its belief that I should be working harder.

I’ve been taught to push hard and work each day. Most of us have.

Waking up without an alarm and walking for just five hours sounds idyllic, but that guilt for not working hard comes along almost instantly, like a finger tapping on your shoulder to ask what your contribution to progress was today. It had better be big…

“Rest feels best when earned.”

I believe that.

Kicking back after a long, hard day feels amazing. Sitting around aimlessly has me thinking, “What have I achieved today?”

But now is the perfect time to relax. There’s no reason to hurry.

Slow down. Wait for safer conditions in the Sierras. Enjoy the views, the rivers, the people. Spend a whole day in the hot springs.

What am I rushing for?

Why is a daily 20 miles so important to me?

Why do I feel guilty if I am still in camp at 7 am?

The internal guilt of a slave to the wage, who can’t shake the mentality of always needing to do something.

Deep Creek Hot Springs

That stops now.

Tomorrow, I’m doing 12 miles and spending the rest of the day at the hot springs. I’m going to soak myself in natural hot water for hours, and I’m not going to care about where I think I should be, the miles, or the clock.

Tomorrow, I’m going to stop rushing and realise that I’m out here to live.

I’m out here to have experiences. It’s time to enjoy the moment and the freedom from structure. I might not get an opportunity like this again. It’s time to say yes to more than just making the miles.

It’s time to break the schedule.

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Comments 3

  • Nephi Polder : May 6th

    This is why I wouldn’t do a thru hike. Section hike maybe.

  • Matt Dwyer : May 7th

    Maybe it will take a few more weeks to decompress. Or maybe you savor routine, I’m not sure that’s bad, but practicing flexibility is good and I hope that works out

  • Michael Beecher : May 21st

    I think you are digging into the heart of things here, and not just on the trail. We are all ruled by the ticking of time quite simply because it runs out for all of us, but how we use that time we have is the big question. In work we are ruled by the clock and work takes our time and often our energy too. On a through hike, a different clock is ticking, and that is the time available before the weather makes completion impossible. So there is work to be done; get the miles in. And maximising miles in the bank can take over. So yes to more than just making the miles and getting a perspective on what you are doing and why you are doing it. One of the attractions of long distance running races for me is that for their duration, all the complexities of the world disappear, and the only objective is getting to the end (sometimes just so the pain can stop!). I think a similar attraction can apply to a through hike. It is not quite as reductive, but for the duration the real world is put on hold and the principle objective is to get to the end. You addressed that a bit in your AT vlog, and considered the mixed feeling of wanting it to be over and not to be over at the same time. I think if the only objective in a through hike is getting to the end, an opportunity is lost. I don’t think you necessarily need to know what all the other objectives might be before you start and if your are open to what might happen along the way, there can be many possibilities. Your AT hike certainly showed that.


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