Will the Magic Fade After Four Months in the Woods?

I’m not particularly scared of wildlife or the solitude of hiking alone. The thought of running out of food or getting lost don’t send shivers down my spine. I’ve already lived through Giardia, H. pylori, and E. coli (harrowing tales I will save for another day), so drinking bad water doesn’t particularly scare me either. My biggest fear, by far, about thru-hiking is the notion that after living in the woods for 2,500 miles the magic of Mother Nature will fade. Will I fall out of love with the woods?

Right now, I live in the biggest and busiest city in the Pacific Northwest. My neighborhood is full of noisy construction and angry drivers; sounds of drunken partygoers and trash trucks fill my urban residence. On my days off, I flee to the woods in search of solace, solitude, and quiet. Friday after work, I jump in my car and head to the mountains. I can feel my pulse slow as the anxieties of the city fall behind me. Within 45 minutes, I find myself on a dirt road surrounded by Douglas firs and nothing but the sound of my own thoughts. This is what the woods have always been to me: a playground, a safe space, a retreat from the anxieties and mess of the day-to-day.

When I first started thinking about completing a full thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, I was enamored with the idea of spending four months—120 unbroken days—immersed in the magic of the wilderness. It sounded absolutely magnificent. But as the countdown for hitting the trail continues and my start date grows closer, the very thing that pulled me to the trail is the source of my biggest fear. Will my infatuation with Mother Nature slowly disappear? Will I grow immune to the beauty of the great outdoors? Will the magic fade after four months in the woods?

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