Why We Thru Hike

As thru hikers, we spend our days walking, most of us from sunrise to sunset. Some of us night hike for a few miles in the morning, others in the evening before setting up their tents while still some hikers never set alarms, allowing the day to awaken them and then have their camp set up before the sun sets. There’s a method to the madness. But out here, a lot of hikers (I’m guilty as well) spend all day complaining about a multitude of various things.

The sun is too hot.

The wind is too strong.

The nights are too cold.

This hill is too steep up.

This hill is too steep down.

The grade is hurting my knees.

Water is too damn heavy.

My food bag is massive.

My tent is wet from sleeping in a cloud and there’s nowhere to let it dry.

The list goes on and on but the thing to know is that none of us would rather be anywhere else.

So then why do we complain so often & about so many things? Ha, it’s a way of bonding out here. We are all going through the exact same things so when we vocalize that pain we can all come together and end up laughing about how ridiculously hot the sun is or how windy it was the night before or how much it sucks to hike out of a town, and inevitably back up a mountain, with a full resupply of food and so many liters of water!

I woke up in a cloud of rain & mist the other morning and proceeded to lay in my sleeping bag for over an hour because it was colder than the average morning and I just didn’t want to hike out alone without having the visibility I’m used to. As soon as I heard Flashdance next to me start moving I unzipped my tent & we shared a couple expletives about the temperature and as we were talking, everyone else slowly rolled out of their tents and shared the same sentiments as well. It was hella cold and we were all miserable but it was a happy miserable; even with the temperature and the wind, none of us would have traded where we were for anything.

Even when it feels like it’s 100 degrees and we’re all drenched in sweat and can feel it dropping down our backs and arms and faces and necks, if we can commiserate with fellow hikers, it lessens the burden of that thing that seems to be weighing so heavily on our shoulders. The knowledge of other people feeling as horrible as you do helps boost the morale of the trail. 

While everyone else is sitting behind a desk in their cubicles at the office, I’m sweating buckets during the day and freezing my ass of at night hoping my tent doesn’t bend and rip in the wind. I do it for the views, for the friendships, for the uncontrollable laughter at the end of a long day. I do it for the experiences that I can’t find anywhere else and for the strangers that turn to lifelong friends in the matter of a few hours.

As thru hikers we may complain a lot but we wouldn’t rather be anywhere else in the world. We fight through the heat and the cold and the aches and the pains for these amazing moments: 

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Comments 7

  • Karyn : May 21st

    Thank you for the insight about the ‘pissin’ & moanin’ ~ I wondered about that; good to know it’s more a a release and a bonding experience. The picture are wonderful. I am planning on the AT ’17 and I am thinking (fantasizing) that it will lead to the PCT shortly afterward. I enjoyed you post. You enjoy your journey!

    • Lydia Armstrong : May 24th

      Haha I like your be age better, I might have to retitle this blog! But yes, it definitely happens, it’s just a way for us all to feel a little better on what can otherwise be a sucky mountain to climb. Best of luck on the AT!

  • Ashlee : May 21st

    Great post! Also, I’m loving the pictures you include and the story they tell throughout your journey.

  • Jann : May 21st

    Really enjoying your journal and photos!!!

    • Lydia Armstrong : May 24th

      Thank you so much!!(:

  • Irvin Valle (COACH IRV) : May 30th

    Great job with the post. I have been following you and a few other hikers/bloggers ob Badger since you started posting, or maybe b4, not sure it was last year about june when I discovered this site. I love your stories and am a future thru hiker wannabe. Keep up the great stories and pictures as I am sure I am not the only one living vicariously through your hike.

    • Lydia Armstrong : May 31st

      That means so much, thank you for following along! I’m so excited for you to have your chance on the trail, it’s been an incredible experience and I’m only 1/4 of the way through.(:


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