View Full Version : for the love of it

10-01-2007, 09:47
This weekend my husband and I went on an overnight to get more of a feel for what the AT will be like. (We hope to hike the AT in '08). I've hiked the VA mountains before but I haven't had a pack on since February. Plus in Feb I was hiking the backcrountry on an island. (A flat island :)!) The hike over the weekend was in the VA mountains....basically straight up and straight down....a 12 mile loop. In all honesty, I hated it! I hurt so bad! I know pain comes with hiking!...I'm familiar with that...but for some reason on this particular trip I could not get my mind focused on the positive...even though the weather was PERFECT for hiking. It wasn't like I was challenged by rain, wind, excessive cold or heat. At one full stretch of downhill on the second day all I could do was repeat "Just walk...just walk...just walk...". Any advice on what to do when you are mentally not up for a hike? :) I was annoying myself with all the mental complaining going on in my head!!!!! I'm usually not like that. The only other time I can think of when I hated the hike was when I was doing a six mile loop and found myself in 3 foot of snow as I got about half way through and decided to push on through it. 3' turned into 4+' in some places and I wondered if I'd made a really bad decision to keep going.

Thanks for any advice you can give me.

10-01-2007, 12:22
I'm a pretty upbeat person, but I have been known to get bummed out going up or down a mountain. My main strategy is to just wait it out - you'll cheer up eventually and wonder why you were so grumpy before! But if it's a short vacation you don't want to wait, because by the time you feel better it might be time to go home.

So I just tell myself that it was my choice to come out here. I came because I wanted to, I don't have to be on this mountain. I could turn around and go home right now, and be taking a hot shower in 3 hours. (or 3 days depending on where you are :p ) When faced with the possibility of going back to work, I immediately feel better about where I am!

Also I'd recommend reducing your pack weight and doing some training before your hike. If you walk for just an hour a few times a week you'll be amazed at how your hiking becomes more enjoyable. How much does your pack weigh? I used to carry 40lbs everywhere and I'm never going back!!

10-01-2007, 12:33
I took my wife out this weekend. She generally doesn't like to hike, but she wants to give it a try for me. We went to Shenandoah, and I planned to hike a few miles, but after about a mile I could tell she wasn't going to have fun going that far. I looked at my map and realized we passed a shelter, so I turned around and hiked to the shelter. Anway, the next day when we were driving home, she told me thank you for turning around and going to the shelter. We didn't sleep in the shelter, mind you (we have hammocks). But she was glad that we did a short day.

I think the key is easing your self into it. I tend to forget that my wife doesn't have the desire to push herself like I do. So if you don't have that desire, why do it? Just do a couple miles, stop and set up camp, and then walk around a bit. My wife told me she would like to go out more often. This is the opposite of every other time I took her out.

10-01-2007, 12:51
I think Quassar has made a good point that I'd like to elaborate on. If you choose to be there, why did you? For me, it's to seek God, and to get back to a simpler lifestyle. When I'm in pain, or disliking the environment around me on a hike, I remind myself why I'm here. And I focus on that. Yes I'm in pain but I'm doing what I want to do.
All of the advice you have so far is sound to me. I would suggest mentally finding that place that brought you to the trail in the first place. And enjoy that place. And realize the pain will get better as you get in shape.
Also, check your husbands route! Sounds like he may have picked one that was a bit much for such a long hiatus between your hikes.


10-01-2007, 13:04
If I could get a quarter for every negative thing that went through my head both pre hike and during my hike this year, I would have made a huge amount of money.

The AT is not about physical - though that is a part. The AT is a mental game that you have to play to win. You will battle a mental games throughout the hike. I wish it weren't so, but it is. That's not to say you won't have absolutely wonderful days out there. But there will be many, many days too that the mental will get to you, esp after your 5th day straight of rain and you begin to smell like mold. Or thinking you can't possibly go down another hill.

I can recall hiking with just a day pack a month before the start of my hike in GA and how I had knee, hip and foot pain. I wondered if I could even do the trail. Heck I had knee and foot pain the first mile of the Approach trail a month later! My son was still ill and lagging far behind. Then of course the mental game began in earnest.
What are you doing out here??? Are you CRAZY??? You'll never make it. All that plannng for nothing. Etc Etc.

The good thing is, you are experiencing some of the mental game early on.
I agree with practical things like getting your pack weight down. Doing some exercising. Get as ready as you are able (though nothing really prepares you like the real thing. And you can adjust on the trail as you go). But face it, you will be challenged mentally throughout the hike. Just play to win. Don't let the AT beat you. You beat it!!

And welcome to a fellow Virginian. I'm not far from Swift Run Gap, Shenandoah. Also, I am curious where you hiked? If it was the rollercoaster section, that is very difficult anyway! And 12 miles is a very long hike. I would only start with 8 maybe. That's all you do down in GA anyway when you start a thru. 8-10 at most. You have to give yourself time to adapt. And on the AT that can take up to 6-8 weeks. Then there will be no stopping you. :)

10-01-2007, 13:09
How much does your pack weigh?

I think it was about 20. (Doesn't sound like much does it?)

10-01-2007, 13:18
I'm not far from Swift Run Gap, Shenandoah. Also, I am curious where you hiked?

day 1 - booten gap at skyline drive out to bear church rock and down to the staunton river
day 2 - staunton river over to rapidan camp and back up laurel prong trail to the at and back to booten gap

After looking at it again it may have been closer to 13 miles.

10-01-2007, 13:31
day 1 - booten gap at skyline drive out to bear church rock and down to the staunton river
day 2 - staunton river over to rapidan camp and back up laurel prong trail to the at and back to booten gap

After looking at it again it may have been closer to 13 miles.

13 miles for a weekend hike is a good intro trip. Sounds interesting too (I'll have to jot that one down). Your pack weight is great, wow.

So I would go to the mental aspect, like others were suggesting. Is the AT something you really want to do, that you have passion for, that you wish to become a part of for 6 months. You see, I wanted to do it for 30 years, so I had that to fall on. And also great support as well. For my son, he loved the trail community and wanted to meet other people. And accomplish something big in his life that very few others do. So you may want to take time to reflect. And hike again.

10-01-2007, 18:14
Some days your head is in the game, other days it isn't. It's always hard for me to know before I leave on a hike (or any other big-time physical effort) exactly how I'm going to feel mentally or even physically for that matter. Sometimes you're really stressed out from other stuff going on, sometimes you're not physically up to par because there's a virus coming on, or you haven't been getting enough sleep for too too long, sometimes your weight is up and you figured you'd get away with it, sometimes your nutrition has just been terrible, and sometimes, it's a mystery. I've had hikes (and long runs) where I thought I'd be miserable the whole time and things were great. And vice-versa... where I was dying to get out there and, once out there, couldn't wait for it to be over.

I'd give myself several more hikes (at least 3-4) under varying conditions before making a decision about what to do. But also, don't be afraid to adjust your goal if you find you hate it more as you go along rather than less. I haven't done a thru, but even folks who really really want it, and really really enjoy it, find it awfully tough going at times. Not every activity is for every person, and life's way too short to spend six months on a thru-hike if it turns out, it's really not for you.

Jane in CT