Trail Correspondents: S4 Episode #11 | The Mental Game

Welcome back to Trail Correspondents!

This is Episode 11 which is all about the mental game required to attempt a thru-hike.

Denial is not just a river in Africa and it’s the stories we tell ourselves that frame our experience as heavenly or hellish.

Now some relevant quotes: 

Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.”

Sapiens author, Yuval Noah Harari, “Homo sapiens is a storytelling animal that thinks in stories rather than in numbers or graphs, and believes that the universe itself works like a story, replete with heroes and villains, conflicts and resolutions, climaxes and happy endings. When we look for the meaning of life, we want a story that will explain what reality is all about and what my particular role is in the cosmic drama. This role makes me a part of something bigger than myself, and gives meaning to all my experiences and choices.”

And one more from our very own Zach Badger Davis on the topic, “What we call “reality” is really just an interpretation of events based on prior life experiences. So if reality is a byproduct of our perceptions, it’s our job to rewire how we perceive tough times. We need to look at the glass as half full.” – from Appalachian Trails

A thru hike is hard and not just in the ways that are obvious. Success requires a unity of the body, the spirit and THE MIND. 

Today we focus-in on the vital role that 3-pound mass of worn-weight between our ears plays in managing one of the most arduous tasks a person can assign themself. 

Let’s get into it.

Listen here:

Or download this episode.

In today’s episode we hear from:

Abbey Turnbull
Harking from the South Coast of the UK, Abbey, aged 26, is swapping the rolling hills of the South Downs for the mountains of the Pacific Crest. A thru-hike of the JMT last year confirmed what she thought to be true – hiking from Mexico to Canada was her destiny for 2023. Loves good food and wine, Taylor Swift, American hospitality, and mountain vistas. Hates steep downhill slopes, her own unfortunate susceptibility to altitude sickness, and oatmeal.

Aly Pagano
Aly is local to the southern Appalachians in western North Carolina. She has spent her life hiking, trail running, fishing, foraging, and farming; she aspires to increase her own knowledge and awareness of traditional Appalachian folk medicine, music, and skills as in an effort to live harmoniously with the mountains around her. With a degree in Ecology, Aly focuses on seasonal changes, flora, and fauna while hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Abbigale (Abby) Evans
Abby Evans (she/they) has a hankering to shave their head and hike the AT and now they will get to do both! They will be fulfilling their vagabond-dirtbag-poet dreams and aspire to one day become a creative writing professor. They’ll be listening to seventies folk music and reflecting on their life as they wander through all the states they grew up in: they were born in Maryland, grew up in New Jersey and went to college at Virginia Tech. Abby is excited for this Bildungsroman and hopes to celebrate their 23rd birthday (August 24) near Maine.

Iris Hartshorn
A queer Alaskan, Iris, aka Panther, strives to build adventure into their life. The last years have been filled with world travel, skiing, packrafting, hiking, backpacking, vanlife, and epic trips across Alaska. This year’s highlight is to walk from Mexico to Canada. Or, at least, just to keep walking somewhere.

David Firari
David “Good Soup” is excited to be sharing their northbound Appalachian Trail with you! This is their first ever backpacking trip and they hope all the reading and shakedown hikes they did pay off. In addition to being a novice backpacker, Good Soup is also managing a schedule of recurring medical treatments back home in Wisconsin in order to make this trip happen.

Derek Witteman
Derek is a 37 years young Northern California native, presently thriving in San Antonio, Texas. In no particular order he is a physician, veteran, hiker, nerd, and jokester. In his free time he enjoys taking selfies with wildlife, and thinking of spirit animals the represent his current mood.

Eddie Arriola
Eddie is a travel PTA, physical therapist assistant, who’s been dreaming of the PCT for four years. In his spare time he enjoys photography, karaoke, and has other eclectic hobbies. He’s originally from southern Arizona, Tucson, and is excited to get back to his primary partner and dogs after the trail.

Elke Pabst
Elke comes from Germany and wants to thruhike the AT with her dog Tilli. It is her first stay in the USA und doesn t hiking before. She has 3 nearly grown up sons and a husband who take care of everything while she is hiking with her 9 year old dog Tilli.

Jake Landgraf
Jake is currently on the AT attempting his first thru-hike. A proud Wisconsin resident, he enjoys beer, the outdoors, and the Green Bay Packers. On trail, Jake is known as “Radioface” and is obsessed with cosmic brownies. Follow Jake on his own, daily podcast at whereisjakeat.com.

Mary Garcia
Mary is a boring woman who likes to make various things, especially her hiking gear. She also has problems completing a thru hike. She did half the PCT in 2017 and a month on the CDT in 2022.

Summer has had an adventurous spirit since she was young, having spent her most of her childhood traveling around the world with her family. She’s been dreaming of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail since 2020, when she moved to Oregon and fell in love with the mountains of the PNW. While it’s certainly shaping up to be an interesting year for the PCT, she’s excited to see whatever the trail has in store.

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