COVID-19 Shatters My Heart

You Can’t Control Everything

As I sit here in tears writing this, I don’t even know where to start. Sometimes life has a different plan whether you understand it or not. It was only a week ago that I was writing my final pre-trail blog. I was coming into the home stretch of my preparation for the PCT. A distant dream would soon become a reality and my excitement felt unreal. I can compare it to that cliche “kid in a candy shop” feeling or like my first day of college, but this goes deeper.

The PCT is one of a few things that has intrigued me for a long period of time. I get bored of things fairly quickly, so when I find something sustainable, it’s exciting. 2020 is the year where this dream fit perfectly into the timeline of my life and it’s exactly what I needed. It felt like my destiny, but when it comes down to it, things didn’t go to plan. Even when it’s out of your hands, acceptance doesn’t get any easier.

Know When to Hold ‘Em, Know When to Fold ‘Em

The COVID-19 pandemic is one that we are well aware of and it’s getting more lethal by the hour. As each day passes and my start date approaches, my dream dwindles. Upon much thought and consideration, I am canceling my thru-hike of the PCT and it shatters my heart. I devoted this past year to preparing for this journey. And just like that, it’s over before it even began. I want to be angry, but I’m just grateful to be healthy. The reality is that there are far bigger problems than not being able to do a thru-hike.

When assessing this situation, I look at the big picture. I am a potential liability to those who are vulnerable to this virus. The PCT connects a series of small communities that don’t have the same resources that you’d find in a larger town. If I choose to hike, I am potentially presenting an unnecessary risk to the people in those communities. Self-isolation is the only control that I have and it’s the best contribution that I can make right now.

The last thing that I want to do is spread this virus. Especially to the towns and hikers on the PCT. It may happen anyway, but it won’t be my own doing. I know that I won’t be able to enjoy this experience if I’m constantly thinking about whether or not I’m carrying this virus as I hike. My original goal was to enjoy this experience, but nothing about this current situation is enjoyable.

Going Forward

Besides not having the opportunity to thru-hike the PCT, this is my biggest disappointment. A big part of my “why” was self-discovery. Within that, I was hoping to figure out what I want to do in the future. My inability to do that in the past is one of the things that led me to the PCT. Now that I don’t have that opportunity, I’m back to square one. I have to find a different route to the same destination.

Most people would say that they’ll just wait until 2021, but I don’t know what my situation will look like. I don’t know if I want to wait around for another year just to hike the PCT. Which says a lot because it means so much to me. I can’t stay in this transitional phase of life for much longer. My next mission is to figure out what’s ahead. It could be the PCT, but that’s not a guarantee and it’s a heartbreaking thought.

A Word to You All

I never made a step on the PCT, yet this process has led me toward some awesome people. The support has been unbelievable and I feel awful that this story couldn’t be written. I have tremendous gratitude for everything and wanted to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart. It has been a humbling experience and I hope this isn’t the end.

As for those hikers who are in a more difficult situation than I am, I wish you peace in your decision. It’s hard to back out of a commitment when you risk it all. I’m fortunate to have not been in that position, so this decision doesn’t hold the same weight. Nothing about this is easy and I hope that others will consider that before lashing out at someone else’s decision. Although canceling a thru-hike seems insignificant, there’s a lot more weight behind it than most believe. It’s a lifestyle.

So It Goes

With that all being said, nothing makes me feel good right now. This hurts bad. Even if I believe that what I’m doing is the right thing, I’m crushed. The storm always passes, but this one is going to sting until I get another opportunity. I hope to God that it’s 2021, but there’s no telling what comes next. It’s hard to understand why things happen the way they do sometimes.

Love your family, cherish your friends, and support your community. Everybody needs everybody right now. We’re all on the same team against this awful virus. Aim to be the calm among the storm and try to make someone smile in the midst of the chaos. The world could use a little positivity right now so take pride in being a positive vibe warrior.


Lastly, thank you to The Trek for this opportunity and it’s a real bummer to end it this early. A huge thanks to you, the reader. And a massive thanks to all my family and friends who have been supportive of this decision. It means more than you know and also makes this hurt a bit more, but in a good way.

Until we meet again, B-Mak out.

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Comments 5

  • Mel : Mar 19th

    Thank you for writing this piece, my heart goes out to you in this time. I am in that confusing place as well! We can only hope it all works out in the end. Good luck with your journey, and happy unexpected trails to answers.

    • Bryce Maki : Mar 19th

      I appreciate it, Mel! I wish you health and happiness on your path to clarity.

  • Lance A Goehring : Mar 19th

    I admire your words and your decision, Bryce. Good luck in the future and hopefully see you on the trail next year.

    • Bryce Maki : Mar 19th

      Massive compliment, Lance. Thank you! All the best to you, my friend. Hope to see you out there next year as well.


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