Relationship Test: Thru hike as a Couple
A true testament to a relationship is stripping away all the distractions and just being with each other. What better way to do this than by thru hiking as a couple.
You love each other in the comforts of your own home, each with your separate spaces & your daily routines; but when all those things are gone how will you manage?
1) Talk about your expectations.
Jake & I agreed before we started our Appalachian Trail thru-hike in 2014 that we would only go 8 miles a day for the first week. Our first few days were difficult as other hikers sped past us, talking about their 15-20 mile days. Jake’s competitive side started to bubble up & he wanted to go more miles. Since we disagreed, we followed our 8 mile plan. Later Jake thanked me, saying he was grateful because he learned to relax & enjoy his surroundings.
For the PCT we plan to hike 15-18 miles the first week or so, knowing that we want to get out of the desert before it gets too hot, but giving our bodies time to adjust. When in doubt, we will always err on the side of caution because we learned that slow but steady will get you to the finish.
2) Make adjustments to each of your routines.
On the Appalachian Trail, Jake & I argued in the beginning because of our extremely different morning routines. He was up & ready to go in a matter of minutes, wanting to make the most out of his time. I prefer snuggling in my warm sleeping bag on those cool mornings & enjoying a hot breakfast over the fire or stove. So, we learned to compromise. Instead of doing our camp chores first thing in the morning, we did them after hiking 3-5 miles. We would fill up our Camelbaks, eat breakfast, & plan out our miles after those short morning miles. It gave Jake a sense of productivity & it got me up and moving as I looked forward to that no guilt, lengthy morning break.
On the PCT this year we plan on a similar strategy. A quick up & go, eating some sort of breakfast bar as we hike along for the first 5ish miles. Then we can get satisfactory morning break. I imagine we will have to be more flexible though; especially in the beginning when water & shade aren’t as plentiful.
3) Splitting up the responsibilities.
Camp chores… ugh. After a long day of hiking all you want to do is get to camp, eat, & sleep but there are chores to be done. Often with Jake’s efficiency he would end up doing more chores than I would, especially in the beginning. As time went on he mellowed out & we were more even with the tasks, but we each had our ‘main domain.’ Jake with the fire & I with setting up our ‘home.’
Our goal for the PCT is to cut down on some of these chores. One way we decided to do this was to buy foam sleeping pads so we won’t have to worry about blowing or rolling them up. Also, while we are hiking through Yosemite it is regulation to carry a bear canister to keep your food in, which while it will be heavier, it will take away the task of hanging our bear bag.
4) Walk It Off.
This has become one of my favorite phrases, because it’s so true. Jake & I both shared some frustrated tears on the A.T, but had endless time to ‘walk it off.’ Walking with frustration is exhausting so it never took very long to come to our senses. Nature has a way of helping to put things into perspective.
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