5 Negatives to a CYTC Hike
I have planned, trained, and waited for over a year to give myself the shot to try a calendar-year triple crown (CYTC). You can probably guess that I am over-the-moon excited. But there are some negative emotions too: fear, guilt, selfishness. All these thoughts haven’t stopped me, but it has given me pause. And I think it’s important to let future thru-hikers know that these feelings are common and completely normal. A thru-hike is a wonderful opportunity, and it may seem like a perfect adventure, but you will also need to struggle through some tough times and challenges.
Missing My Significant Other
“Now the mountains all are blushin’,
And they don’t know what to say,
‘Cept a good long line of praises
For my lovely lady May”
‘Lady May’ by Tyler Childers
One of the first questions I get from friends and coworkers alike is “is your girlfriend going with you?” Kelsey, my better half, and I have been dating for three-plus years and she has already supported me through my AT hike, but she will not be coming along for this 7,500-mile journey. Ten months away from each other is a long time and thankfully we will get to see each other a few times, but it’s still a lot of time apart.
I often feel regret, guilt, and shame for leaving her alone for such long periods of time. And she will always tell me that she will be fine and is excited for me. She’s a strong individual, but I feel it is natural to worry about your partner if you are leaving them at home to chase your personal dream.
Making it worse for me, but hopefully a little better for Kelsey, we just adopted a golden retriever puppy. Jocassee, our new pup, is the classic, attention-grabbing cute golden retriever. I love her already, but I will miss many formative months of training. But Kelsey will do a great job training Jo and hopefully, Jo does a good job keeping her company. (P.S – Jo’s trail name and nickname is PUD, Puddin’ for long. A great hiking dog name in my opinion.)
Missing My Family
Like the paragraph above, I miss my family and all our time together during these adventures. My parents and I have a good and close relationship. We actually like hanging out together and see each other frequently. Between hiking, Covid, and work, I will miss their birthdays and Mother’s Day for the fourth year in a row this year, which just sucks. And I will miss all sorts of dinners, weekends, and good times together while I am gone.
Along with my family, I have a brother, sister-in-law, and a few friends that are practically family that I will miss during my adventure. A change since my AT hike is that my brother and quite a few of my friends have tiny little ones crawling or falling around the house. I haven’t been around tiny children frequently during my life, and I am going to miss year one through two during my time on trail. My nephew and adopted nephews/nieces are going to be radically different tykes when I return.
The first two topics of this blog are serious, but don’t worry, the next two are much less serious. This may sound funny to you, but I am going to miss fishing. I still say that fishing is my main hobby and hiking is my secondary hobby. Hard to keep saying this when I am about to hike for ten months, but I still fish ~50 days per year, and while in my glory days (college), I fished 200+ days per year. Fishing is a big part of my life and weekend plans, and I even think about my lakes back home when hiking. Walking by all the cool ponds on the AT also puts some salt in the wounds, and I’m still holding onto the plan to slowly hike the Maine section of the AT one day with my fishing gear in tow.
If you read the “ten things I’m excited about” blog you know that I’m excited to hike the AT during the winter. While that’s true, it’s a double-edged sword because I will get to see all sorts of snow and cold weather. The first five snows will be fun, but after that, I will probably be over it. And sleeping in sub-20 degree temperatures will also get old at some point. I believe that the first couple months of my hike on the AT will be some of the toughest due to the conditions – but that is all part of the challenge.
Being Alone and Being Down
The last part of this blog is also a serious topic. I will go long periods of time without hiking around other people. I’m a classic extrovert who can talk to anyone at any time. It’s going to be a huge challenge, especially on the AT and CDT, to not be around other hikers. How am I going to react? I’m not sure. That is actually a motivating factor in this hike, to see how I react when there aren’t others around me each day. Now when I have a tough day, I can’t use my hiking partner to cheer me up or let him set the pace when I’m slowing down. It will come down to my own ability to keep pushing miles and trying to make positive memories.
I believe this is a lot easier to talk about and write about than it will be when it happens. I’m going to have tough days and tough weeks. So it will be interesting to see how and if I can drag myself to a solid mental state. Wish me luck!
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