Lost in the Morass of Thinking

Cabazon to Big Bear

I’m not even sure when the love affair ended, but it was definitely an “it’s not you, it’s me” situation. Somewhere between Cabazon and Big Bear, I decided it was time to part ways with the PCT. There’s no way for me to actually describe how the decision came about, because it was the result of hours upon hours of agonizing analysis.


The Search for Joy

Everyday seemed to be full of worry, negative thoughts, and discomfort. I know these aren’t reasons to give up, but all of them together all of the time, sucked the joy right out of the pursuit. I realized I just wasn’t enjoying the part I love best: being outside in nature. It seemed that all my time was spent managing logistics, physical limits, and my alter ego, Negative Nellie.


Lost in the Morass of Thinking

The other big surprise was how much I disliked being alone. Being alone with my thoughts was a lot harder, like A LOT harder, than I expected. I was alone probably 90% of the time, although for the other 10%, I met some awesome people who definitely helped me get through some tough days. The long hours of isolation, however, were hard. I spent more time crying than laughing, and I was barely paying attention to my surroundings.


The Long and Short of Distance Hiking

I have no qualms with the trail itself, but long distance hiking and I just didn’t fit. I believe there is more joy in hiking shorter more manageable pieces. I get section hiking now. At first, I admit, I judged it. I believed a thru-hike was the only way to do it. Now I know, hiking the PCT is NOT easy, no matter how far you hike. And thru-hiking takes more parts and fortitude than I currently possess.




As I mentioned, the decision to leave the PCT was not an easy one. Accepting that I wasn’t ready to face something of this magnitude, regardless of the amount of time, money, and effort I put into planning it, will take some time. I chose to leave the PCT. As much as I would like to blame outside forces, it was completely an inside job. Regardless of whether it was the right decision or the product of fear, I learned some things about myself that push me ever closer to answering the burning question of “Who am I…really”


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Comments 5

  • Sara Kerr : May 17th

    I admire how brave & honest you are. You should be proud of how far you went & what you learned about yourself. You worked hard lady! Just making the decision to do it & taking the first steps were huge!! You just weren’t meant to be on the PCT for the next 5 months. I have no doubt another adventure is just around the corner & you’ve just opened the door for it.

  • Mig Whitt Trail Name YIPPEE. : May 18th

    Annette, Your honesty blows me away. I just got off trail a few weeks ago from the PCT, we should have been hiking together. Every word you said were my thoughts exactly. I have been thinking it was ME the whole time. Feeling like a failure, depression etc. I am one of the most positive people I know, always happy and smiling, but this trek took the life right out of me. Hiking alone sucks. I had a trail partner who got off the trail and didn’t even leave me a note so that was strike number 1. My second partner was no negative that I just couldn’t hike with her. My third partner was great but then I hurt my foot so I had to get home and mend. I am in a big black boot as we speak. Something happened to me on the trail, not sure what is was. Disillusioned for sure. Not what I expected for sure. I am an artist, always looking for beauty. The desert sucked it right out of me, the burning heat, the 20 mile days, Yikes! I was expecting more beauty and shade and time to reflect and longer breaks and discussions etc. nada, none, no Bueno. I will have to get back only to erase the bad taste in my mouth about my hike. I planned it for over a year and made it to only mile marker 214. What the heck? I am mad at myself. I know the snow is there and everyone is in Kennedy Meadows anyway all stacked up but my question is this…Why didn’t I feel the joy? Was it just the timing or what? People were friendly but the experience I came away with was more negative just like you. So thanks, for your writing because yes I feel I am not alone in this. My favorite place to be is by the ocean, maybe I need to stay close to that. Leaving the PCT was the hardest decision I have ever made (almost). I wish you would have been there to talk with or at least to share some of the similar struggles. I want to be on trail so bad just to clear my head but alas, it is not the time. Was I not strong enough, brave enough, in shape enough? Who knows. My heart was there in the beginning. I felt fear creeping in and I never thought it would. Maybe I just need to car camp, go on a bunch of hikes and just look at beautiful scenery, but then what do I do with the competitive spirit I have. I love my tent and love to sleep in different places, I just feel lost. I have determination, perseverance, and guts, but I have no idea where they went when it hit 96 degrees in the desert with low water and throwing up because of heat exhaustion. I hated being on a plane for home (Idaho). I hated coming home to my alone-ness. I hated everyone telling me that it is okay and I would be fine and that they were proud of me. I am not proud of myself. I had a goal. What about that? What about my desire to push through anything. I am struggling. I know everything will be fine, I know I did my best but I am still unhappy that I am not out there, trying to finish. I let myself down and call it ego, but it is still hard to cope. I am a survivor and I will make it fine but for now, when I read your post, I could totally relate. I understand how you feel and how you felt, I get it. I am sure there are more out there who may not be brave enough to say it or think it. So until I get out there for another hike, just know that you are not alone, never alone in this thru hike/section hike stuff. Mig Whitt Trail name YIPPEE If you want to vent – E-mail above. P.S. Hubby, Family and friends are trying to understand but only those on the trail will get it completely.

  • Vince Piquet : May 20th

    Enjoy your journey at your own pace my dear. If and when you choose to go back, you will. When your ready. Fair winds and following seas.

  • Brian : May 20th

    every outing much is learned
    a Blessing

    I enjoy seeing carefree comrades high in the Sierras sharing cannabis, funky route section over snow, exhaustion, laughs…

    I can solo 200+ miles, yet unlikely 4-5 months.


  • Eric : May 28th

    You learned a lot!!!
    Getting over the ego is the hardest, and this may done it…so now when/if you come back, it will be for the joy, and for the love you have of the outdoors, not for the ability to add a notch on your belt…. You sound like an amazing person, and am very excited for you!!!


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