Reality Check

If you bail out each time a honeymoon period ends, you won’t ever follow through with any worthwhile challenge in your life.” Appalachian Trials, p 52-52, Zach Davis, 2012.

Hello, 2×4! I see you’ve just met my forehead.

Reading that threw me for a loop. I’m not planning to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail – or any trail, for that matter. But I’ve been reading this book because I know I have mental barriers that make me timid, and they’re probably what keeps me from making the decision to thru-hike anything. (In addition to the financial consequences of taking 4-5 months off and my discomfort with river crossings.)

Mr. Davis goes on to explain that if you bail out on a thru-hike because you’re out of the honeymoon period, you’re going to return to the same life – and the same patterns – that led you to seek out the challenge of thru-hiking, and soon enough you’ll find a new challenge like thru-hiking that’s equally doomed to failure because you’ve not conquered the underlying issues that made it seem okay to quit in the first place.

Okay, yeah – I kinda hate this guy right now. But it did set me to thinking: Is this what I’m doing? First it was triathlon. And then running an ultra. And now it’s section hiking because I’m too much the coward to thru-hike.

I give myself some credit: I completed the Olympic-distance triathlon that was my goal. I found myself enjoying triathlon training less, falling in love with trail running, and now that I cannot run on pavement there are few triathlons I can do. The swim training was always the hardest to schedule, and while I see its value I never really enjoyed it. I injured myself training for my first ultra, and in retrospect I wasn’t really fit enough to take on the demands of training for a race like the Badger Mountain Challenge. As happens to most of us, family responsibilities have taken priority over recreational pursuits. And I decided to get a dog …

So yes, his words did call me out a bit. I can be a serial quitter. That leaves me with two choices: assume I’m just going to quit and thus I shouldn’t bother starting, or prepare myself for when the siren song of quitting is drawing me away.

I really do want to hike the PCT in Washington, and I’m working my way through it. When I feel I’m fit enough, I plan to take month off and thru-hike the PCT through Oregon. Because of pandemic issues, I’m spending more time on the PNT (far less crowded), and I’d like to do more of it.

Embrace the suck. Outside of dumb luck, that’s the only way we ever accomplish anything.

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