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Thread: So what's bad?

  1. #1
    Registered User Storm's Avatar
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    Default So what's bad?

    Okay guys (and gals) this is my first night on this site. I'm retiring two years from next March. I'm planning early and have yet to run across anyone other than my wife who is trying to talk me out of a thru hike. I use to be a long distance runner (many years ago) and am still in pretty good shape for my age. Everything I've read on these pages has a positive upbeat tone to it and I like that. I would like some of you to relate some of the drawbacks and pitfalls that you have experienced. Since I'm reading that there is more than a 75% dropout rate I know it can't be all a rose garden with terrific views.

    How about it folks, talk me out of it.

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    Many "successful" through hikers end up depressed and aren't right physically or psychologically for months afterwards.

    You are apt to get Springer Fever each Spring for any number of years thereafter. Some give in, find it addictive and have little or no desire to hike other trails.

    You might find yourself frequenting this website at all hours when anyone else would be making better use of his time. Worse still, you may realize it, but feel powerless to do anything about it.

    Quit now, before you are drawn in any deeper.

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    Registered User Storm's Avatar
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    Thank you. I just got a membership in the ATC a couple of weeks ago and have ordered several books including the one you mentioned. Hasn't arrived yet though.

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    Glad I could help. Go to bed and get some rest now.

    If you wake up still unconvinced in the morning, play a round of golf instead. Do not type the URL for this website or click on it whatever you do.

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    i haven't thru hiked. but i do know that it RAINs out there. lots.
    …speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee… –JOB 12:8

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    Registered User Storm's Avatar
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    Okay, yeah I'm already crazy so the physco part won't work on me. As for going to bed: I've worked swing shift for over 40 years and the last three years on afternoon shift so this is just the evening for me. Rain? Come on, it rains whether you are on the trail or at home. Never rains on the golf course though. I think I like this site but you guys can do better. Come on, what is so bad about the trail? I've read about mice in the shelters, wierdos with guns, snakes, bugs, ticks, bears, dried up springs, blow downs, shoulder high underbrush, rock ledges, but I still think the worst part hasn't been written about. There must be something I'm missing or everyone would walk 2000 plus miles just because " It was there"
    They do sell Scotch along the trail don't they?

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    Registered User Storm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Storm View Post
    Okay, yeah I'm already crazy so the physco part won't work on me. As for going to bed: I've worked swing shift for over 40 years and the last three years on afternoon shift so this is just the evening for me. Rain? Come on, it rains whether you are on the trail or at home. Never rains on the golf course though. I think I like this site but you guys can do better. Come on, what is so bad about the trail? I've read about mice in the shelters, wierdos with guns, snakes, bugs, ticks, bears, dried up springs, blow downs, shoulder high underbrush, rock ledges, but I still think the worst part hasn't been written about. There must be something I'm missing or everyone would walk 2000 plus miles just because " It was there"
    They do sell Scotch along the trail don't they?
    The difficult can be done immediately. The impossible take a little longer.

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    Registered User Storm's Avatar
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    Okay, you guys win for tonight. I'm going to bed. Hopefully tomorrow some of the really tough guys that have actually done something impressive will log on and smite me with their factual credentials. Until then "Old Smuggler" isn't that bad for a cheap Scotch. I'll log back tomorrow.

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    I'm only a section hiker, but in answer to your question. And ONLY because you asked,,,, it really isn't that bad:

    A long distance hike soon becomes almost a job. Instead of focusing on a specific assigned job, you focus on FOOD & miles. The food is the pay the miles are the "Job".
    Sleeping in late is a dream. True, you don't have to "punch the clock" every morning, but you do need to make a minimum of daily miles so, , ,
    As mentioned above, it will rain, sometimes sideways,,,,, for days. EVERYTHING you own will be wet.
    The bugs (at times) will be relentless.
    After 5 days of going straight up & straight down, & you come to a section that is Worse (or seems so) your brain will short circuit.
    Places you didn't know you had will hurt.

    That is the short list. IMHO all of the above are less than 20% of a hike, but while they are happening it will seem like 120%. A LD hike is mostly a mental exercise after the first 2 - 3 weeks.

    I was going to put something profound here, but my brain has shut down & I can't remember what it was, so you make something up.
    Curse you Perry the Platypus!

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    I have not thru hiked nor do I see that as a possibility in the near future I do hike a lot I'm out every chance I get for as long as I can. I do get to talk to a lot of thru hikers as well as fellow section hikers. The truth is after a while you don't just endure the being wet, cold, hungry, the bugs, snakes, bears and assorted other critters, The puds and muds, poorly marked or maintained trails, rocks the list goes on. You actually enjoy it. At that point forget the weird people to sorta quote Bearpaw you are the weird person.
    Scotch is hard to damn near impossible to get from the trail in PA but if you run across a fat guy with a lot of home made , repaired and miss matched gear. That is a little over the edge. He usually carries enough to share.
    Alcohol was involved!

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    Nothing is bad, its walking in the mountains! I suppose that the only bad thing that can possibly occur is that reality doesn't meet expectations (and apparently this happens a lot). However, if the expectation is to find out what reality is, and appreciate it for what it is, then again, what can be bad about walking in the mountains?
    "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe... ?"
    - Kate Chopin

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    whatever you do, do NOT start making your own alcohol stoves... you will be in for a lifetime addiction, small children will shun you and call you a weirdo, you wife will disown you when you are seen picking cans from the neighbor's garbage, and your hands may never grow hair again.
    Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you. John Muir

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    For some people, it's mismatched expectations --- not ready for actual conditions. For others, it's specific physical ailments --- mostly foot issues. Later on it can just get to be a grind --- you're out there becauuse in theory you want to be, but you no longer really want to --- you're just grinding it out because you said you would do it, or something along that line.

    I don't see a real downside to trying it and deciding along the way that it isn't for you. The upsides are significant; one downside I guess is just now working out with my wife for me to be gone for several months at a time for a next-trip experience ... !

    One minor downside is post-trip physical (and indeed perhaps mental/emotionalal) stuff. I just had foot surgery for a prbolemm that cropped up in 2008, but I'l be trying the AT early next year ---- worth it. Like others I lost a lot of weight and then gained it all back again when I was home; I'[m sure I'll lose it all again next year. Hopefully this won't become a weird sort of slow motion yo-yo diet!

    Bottom line: go for it, see how you like it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scope View Post
    What can be bad about walking in the mountains?
    You could fall to your death, be struck by lightening, bitten by a venomous snake, get hypothermia or heat stroke. I mention only a few of the many possibilities.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doctari View Post
    Some people don't make good hiking companions. It's best for everyone involved when such persons remain in their houses as much as possible.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Storm View Post
    Okay guys (and gals) this is my first night on this site. I'm retiring two years from next March. I'm planning early and have yet to run across anyone other than my wife who is trying to talk me out of a thru hike. I use to be a long distance runner (many years ago) and am still in pretty good shape for my age. Everything I've read on these pages has a positive upbeat tone to it and I like that. I would like some of you to relate some of the drawbacks and pitfalls that you have experienced. Since I'm reading that there is more than a 75% dropout rate I know it can't be all a rose garden with terrific views.

    How about it folks, talk me out of it.
    don't know anything at all about talking you out of it, but the problems i had were all psychological. i'm a loner and don't really like being around people, but even i got lonely. not necessarily for somebody to actually talk to, but because i was used to seeing somebody else on a day-to-day basis. you really just have to rearrange your thinking or you'll force yourself off the trail. plus sometimes, like normal, you just have a bad day, but when you're tired, a piece of gear breaks, and you're ill as hell, the answer can sometimes seem like going home. you can sike yourself out if you don't stop and realize that yeah, you're having a crappy day, but it could be worse. you could be at home.

  16. #16

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    Trying to get through PA/NJ/NY in 90 degree heat and 80% humidity. One day in PA, it was so hot and humid, even the rocks were sweating!
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Trying to get through PA/NJ/NY in 90 degree heat and 80% humidity. One day in PA, it was so hot and humid, even the rocks were sweating!
    or just come down south for a couple months and you won't even notice it..

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    Slo-go'en:

    Sounds like a cool low humidly day in Houston.

  19. #19

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    People quit for any number of reasons. I think people quit early on because of reality not matching their expectations, as others have mentioned. This can be overcome by recognizing that whatever trail you've got going on inside your head isn't the AT. It's also a good idea to do a shorter trail first, such as the Long Trail, or a 2 week section of the AT.

    People do quit farther north because they run out of money or because of injury. But I think more people quit just because they lose focus on what they set out to accomplish, or they come to the realization that thru-hiking can be a grind, the hiking starts to feel like a job, and they're not seeing the rewards.

    As Kanga mentioned, there will be crappy days. When a series of crappy days happens, a lot of people figure it's not fun anymore, they're not getting paid to do it, and they go home.

    This happens a lot in Virginia.

    But as Kanga also mentions, recognizing that being at home doesn't eliminate crappy days can go a long way towards keeping you on the trail.

    So if you don't mind weeks on end of rain (and believe me, there's a big difference between lots of rain when you're at home or on a weekend trip and lots of rain when you're thru-hiking), pain that seems to move around to different parts of your body, sore feet much of the time, constant hunger, and the boredom that can set in after more than 100 days on the trail, you'll be fine.

    But chaffing really, really, sucks.
    Drab as a Fool, as aloof as a Bard!

    http://www.wizardsofthepct.com

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Storm View Post
    Okay, yeah I'm already crazy so the physco part won't work on me. As for going to bed: I've worked swing shift for over 40 years and the last three years on afternoon shift so this is just the evening for me. Rain? Come on, it rains whether you are on the trail or at home. Never rains on the golf course though. I think I like this site but you guys can do better. Come on, what is so bad about the trail? I've read about mice in the shelters, wierdos with guns, snakes, bugs, ticks, bears, dried up springs, blow downs, shoulder high underbrush, rock ledges, but I still think the worst part hasn't been written about. There must be something I'm missing or everyone would walk 2000 plus miles just because " It was there"
    They do sell Scotch along the trail don't they?
    I've been section hiking the AT since the 1980s. Believe me, it's the rain. Even after a week of wet feet you can get blisters where you never had them before. At home you can change into dry clothing. On the AT (or LT, for that matter, which I completed in sections in 2000) you will eventually reach a point where none of your clothes are completely dry. Your socks will fall victim to the perpetual soggies first and if you're lucky, they won't take your little piggies with them.
    There's the mental aspect of the rain, too. If you're a shelter user (I was at one time) and you arrive at a shelter and it's chuck full and you have to go set up your tent in the mud for the 6th time in 10 days you'll get a new appreciation for the term "depressed".
    Then there's the heat - which brings out the bugs (spiders and ticks seem to have a special interest in my skin. Mosquitoes and blackflies, too). Some days you'll dread leaving your tent to face them. Again, it doesn't happen in a long weekend. It wears on you.
    You have to really LOVE hiking to continue doing it, in my case, for a couple of weeks in a row (I could keep on going, but I haven't retired yet).
    The old adage is "No rain, no pain, no Maine". I believe that. For some would be thruhikers there reaches a point where Maine is no longer worth the rain and the pain.
    Btw: I suggest a large tarp and a nice hammock to keep your fanny out of the mud and giving you a sitting space on rainy days (that rules out hammocks with attached bug netting). If you guy the netting away from the sides of the hammock you'll be able to sit without the bugs chewing on you.
    As I live, declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn back from his way and live. Ezekiel 33:11

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