Every year thousands of people set out to hike the Appalachian Trail. I’m sure there is a website (or dozens) that report the statistics of the number of drop outs and the respective reasons for not finishing. Reasons for not finishing are usually lumped into a few categories. My favorite reason is “this just isn’t what I expected”. Other common reasons for dropping out are, physical injury, running out of money, not being physically or mentally prepared, and not having the right equipment.
There are websites, classes, books, and a host of other resources to help people get ready for, and succeed at hiking the trail. When I first began dreaming of hiking the AT, I wrote letters to past thru-hikers with questions and they all wrote me back with answers. Ah… the good ol’ days before the internet. Yes, I’m old. My point here is, there has always been resources to help people succeed on the trail. But there’s always circumstances for which you cannot prepare.
This week alone I met two hikers who started with partners but the partners sustained injuries that sent them home. Shin splints, broken bones, knee injuries. All serious enough to end the adventure of a lifetime. Both hikers said their partners were pushing themselves to get to a point along the trail.
Today, I am nursing a hairline fracture of the fifth metatarsal of my left foot. I’ve spoken with a very nice doctor who gave good advice and I refuse to let this injury bring an end to my adventure!
The best thing I can do is take a few days off and then resume my hike, going slowly and carefully, until I reach my goal! There’s no reason to push. I’ve got nothing but time and knowing my limitations, there is no reason not to press forward, slowly, with my dreams.