Postponing My Thru-Hike, Not My Life

Like many others, I have decided to postpone my thru-hike this year due to COVID-19. The past two years I’ve been looking forward to this adventure, putting other aspects of my life on hold due to my plans to thru-hike in 2020: not getting the dog I so desperately wanted, living in a town I disliked, being hesitant to start any meaningful personal relationships knowing that I would soon be leaving for the trail, etc.

I essentially put my happiness on hold for two years knowing that it was a sacrifice I was making in order to fulfill a dream of mine. Seeing that dream getting pushed back another year hurts a lot, but sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity of life and press on. Grieving about this for me seems unnecessary. I am postponing my thru-hike, not my life, and I’ve started to get excited about other things I can do with my time this year:

  1. Complete my first 50-miler.
  2. Complete 400+ miles on the Appalachian Trail.
  3. Attempt the FKT for the Linville Gorge Wilderness Loop (22.3 miles and ~6,300-foot elevation gain; five hours).

View of the Linville Gorge from Hawksbill.

Looking for the Silver Lining

Although postponing my thru-hike has put my in a tough position (I quit my job, moved in with family, and spent thousands of dollars preparing), I’m trying to focus on the benefits of waiting another year:

  1. This delay will make setting foot on the trail feel even more rewarding.
  2. I’ll have a lot more time to prepare physically.
  3. I have more time to test my gear.
  4. I’m already super well informed about the logistics, which should make future planning a breeze.
  5. I get to experiment with my dehydrator more.

What I see as the biggest benefit for me is the opportunity to strengthen my values and principles. One of my primary reasons for hiking the PCT is that it has been a lifelong dream of mine and I want to be an example to others that it’s important to chase your dreams, but there is no way I could look someone in the eyes and proudly tell them I hiked the PCT if I am putting the lives of others at risk. However, having come so close, having sacrificed so much, putting myself in a very difficult position in life, and choosing to postpone my hike for the safety of others, I think this will speak volumes about the importance of overcoming adversity to fulfill your dreams.


During impactful times in my life I look for quotes to help me make sense of things. Here are a few quotes that have resonated for me during this time:

The difficulties you meet will resolve themselves as you advance. Proceed, and light will dawn, and shine with increasing clearness on your path.” – Jim Rohn

You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.” – Michelle Obama

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” – John Quincy Adams

What plans did you have to cancel this year? What silver linings are you taking away from those cancellations? Have any quotes that resonate with you? Please share in the comments below.

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Comments 1

  • Katie Eckman : Apr 6th

    I’ve been visiting this site often these past few days, finding comfort in reading of others who have had to cancel their 2020 thru hike plans. I’m really glad I came across this post. I can relate exactly to what you say about putting different things on hold- relationships, living situation, even getting a dog- because of dreaming and planning for a future thru hike. That’s been one of the sadder things for me, about not being able to pursue the dream now- that different things were sacrificed for something that didn’t pan out, at least not yet.

    But, I do think things will work out in the end, and you’re right, there are always other things to work on or pursue in the meantime.

    Thanks for writing. It was a comfort.


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