What About Southbounders, People!?
I am not even writing this on a word document. This is straight from The Trek bloggers’ site.
COVID-19 waits for no one to edit their posts! In all seriousness, the world is acting a crazy right now. It has felt like a movie at times. Everybody who is canceling their thru-hikes right now is doing the exact correct thing. For God’s sake, what makes the trail special is the people and the trail towns. This silent killer will be spread from town to town, and you will be destroying the lives of the people that make this trail special. In towns with limited medical services.
We all understand how devastating it is to cancel something you have been dreaming about for years. People, you need to think analytically. You all saved up thousands of dollars to take six months off from your lives to travel the backcountry in the United States. Goddamnit. Hold on to that money. Get a temporary job. Live out of a car. Do whatever you can to complete a thru-hike next year. The trail will still be there but you may not if you decide to travel in hordes of people (looking at you, AT NOBOs) from town to town. Spreading an extremely contagious viral disease from town to town. You might as well throw in norovirus while you all are at it.
Now, I am sorry about my tone. People doing immoral actions make me disheartened.
On to my main question I have been contemplating, and no one on this site or anybody in the backpacking community has asked. What about southbounders? My hike is scheduled to begin on June 30, which is just over three months away. No one knows the answer to this. If the infection peaks during mid-April and flatlines in May, can I go then? Probably. What if I get the virus, and recover. Can I then go? I probably could but I can’t purposely give myself a virus that could kill me.
Loosing my thru-hike will be devastating. Not only because it is a goal of mine but because I want to go back to the only place that I am truly happy in. A place I can actually call home. Every other place in my life is not sustainable. The only thing that matters to me is finding my home. If I am not sustainable in a place, it’s not my home.
Regardless of what happens, everybody needs to do the morally correct thing and think analytically about how your actions affect others, and how you will still be able to complete a thru-hike another year. Or you buy a new car with your savings. I don’t know. But for God’s sake, do not purposely spread a deadly virus to thousands of people because you want to call yourself a thru-hiker. Its not about thru-hiking, it’s about connecting with nature, a group of people, and different towns. You cannot do this if you become ill and make everybody else ill along the trail.
Just over two years ago I was living in an extremely dark place. I was in a work situation that I thought I could not get out of. I was being harassed by women every second of every day. I was deep in suicidal thoughts. I trashed my apartment because I didn’t have the mental capacity to clean. I texted my father every day telling him I may not be around tomorrow. I got a knock on the door, and it was two policemen, my father, and my aunt. They thought I might be dead. After that night, I went back to therapy. I started to get better. But the suicidal thoughts never went away completely. The one thing that took them away was the Appalachian Trail and long-distance hiking. Knowing there was a place, a group of people that actually understands me. A place where I am truly sustainable in.
I am not scared of death. I am not scared of getting the virus. I try to be as selfless as I possibly can. I will even try to give myself the virus to save others from getting it. With all that being said, I will postpone my thru-hike, if I have to. Right now. I don’t know. One could be selfish. Take my lack of fear of death. My unlimited fire that drives me. And just say fuck it. I am hiking. Those are people without a moral center. Those are people who are risking the lives of thousands. I am not religious. But I guarantee I have a greater moral center than people that are. You all should too.
I promise you, if I cancel my thru-hike, I will be back. Because you all are the people I care about most in the entire world.
Side note. Not sure if I can curse. The coronavirus has no filter and neither do I. Sometimes. About all the time I have no filter. If I offend anybody. I am sorry.
Feature photo courtesy of Steph D.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.