“Obstacles are put in your way to see if what you want is really worth fighting for.”
“If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”
-Frank A. Clark
When people start thinking about thru hiking the Appalachian Trail, it is mostly a romantic notion. As you sit on your couch reading book after book and watching the vlogs of thru hikers on YouTube, it doesn’t look that bad. You’re on your own. No work and no job. It’s just you and the trail hiking every day. Right? Not so fast.
I just finished reading Appalachian Trials: The Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking The Appalachian Trail by Zach Davis. A hiker and backpacker himself, the author thru hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2011, finishing in five months.
I learned very quickly in Marine Corps basic training that the physical part of the training was going to be the easy part. At 18 years old, I had thought that would be the case. It was the mental aspect of what I was doing that, at times, almost spelled doom for me. But I toughed it out.
Zach Davis pretty much makes the same claim. Getting your “trail legs” and being able to hike 15-20 miles becomes manageable as you make your way to Mt. Katahdin. Unfortunately, the stress of the trail, home, and life in general present obstacles that sometimes become too much for people and they get off of the trail.
Zach identfies these issues and addresses them head on. There is no mamby pampy nonsense here. He tells it like it is and by doing this he hopefully will prevent thru hikers from falling prey to quitting because they listen to much to the negative thoughts flowing through their mind.
I took the following from Amazon:
In Appalachian Trials readers will learn:
• Effective goal setting techniques that will assure you reach Mt. Katahdin
• The common early stage pitfalls and how to avoid them
• How to beat “the Virginia Blues”
• The importance of and meaning behind “hiking your own hike”
• 5 strategies for unwavering mental endurance
• The most common mistake made in the final stretch of the trail
• The top method for staving off stress
• Tips for enjoying rather than enduring each of the five million steps along the journey
Anyone even remotely thinking about thru hiking the AT should read this book at least once. I know that if I find myself ever getting complacent in my thoughts about the AT, I will re-read this book to get myself grounded and back to reality.