Never Say Never: Everyone Has Reasons to Thru-Hike

For my birthday last July, my go-to adventure gal and I hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail in the Smokies. It was the definition of a perfect backpacking trip. The weather was unpredictable, mountain magic happened every day, and there was always room in the shelters. Plus, we didn’t get eaten by the wet bear we smelled after a surprise thunderstorm.

Once the final day of the trip arrived, we began dragging our feet because we didn’t want the sacred monotony to end. At the last vista point before descending into the valley, we set down our packs, devoured a Snickers bar, and recounted the miles that were now behind us. We laughed, gasped, and voiced frustrations until eventually settling into a silent reverence for the landscape around us. A few minutes passed until I broke the silence with the words:

I Could Never Be a Thru-Hiker

Thru-hikers were something I considered to be unattainable and almost mythical. What kind of person just literally walks for months at a time? Who chooses to quit their job and abandon a conventional life? Why would someone leave the comforts of family and friends to be among their thoughts and the creatures of the wild? I could never be so bold.

Little did I know that the admission of incapability would begin to infiltrate my mind. As 2017 rolled along, the idea of thru-hiking began to plant itself in small areas of my life, and before long the idea bloomed to an all-consuming pursuit. No longer did I think of why I could never thru-hike because my mind became flooded with why I had to. Here are the reasons why I can thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail:

  • Proving people (and myself) wrong is what I live for.
  • I don’t mind going days without a shower.
  • My feet are willing to put in the work.
  • Life is too short to dream about what you could be doing.
  • I will do anything for a beautiful view.
  • Pooping in a hole that I dug myself doesn’t bother me.
  • My heart belongs in the mountains.
  • I crave a life of adventure, almost to a fault.
  • Sleeping on the ground is my idea of fun.
  • It’s a way to continue to simplify my life.
  • Thru-hiking will challenge everything I am and redefine me in the process.
  • Work, debt, and bills will always be there but opportunity is fleeting.
  • I’ll be forever disappointed in myself if I don’t try.

I Am Going To Be a Thru-Hiker

During these last months before hitting the trail, my emotions have resembled the elevation gains and losses of the trail I’m about to conquer. There are days, like today, when I feel unstoppable, invincible, and even obsessed with the incredible life I’m about to be a part of. However, there are also days when I wonder what in the world I’m doing. Feelings of inadequacy loom and I realize that this endeavor is bigger than I will ever be.

It’s important to realize that in order to make it the entire 2,650 miles, both extremes have to be embraced. When the self-doubt takes hold, I’ll just remember the reasons why I can thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail, tighten my laces, and get to hiking.

Everybody has a reason why they hike. What’s yours?

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