Monday, October 24, 2011

Quitting a Hike - Valuable Insights

Why doesn't one finish the hike they had planned? Following up on an earlier blog I wrote on a similar topic, I wanted to share this very insightful post from a fellow hiker on White Blaze. There are some good insights to consider. 

"This spring I set out to do a 6 week section, and didn't make it as far as I wanted to. So I guess I'll talk about why I quit. I actually quit twice, went home for a week and then hit the trail again with some gear readjustments.

Gear Issues:
Started with a 40lb pack the first time. Brought "7 days" of food that I didn't eat more then 1/4 of in the first week. All that extra weight put a lot of strain on my knees, ankles, and muscles. Fixed second time out, carried 25 lbs. Still brought too much food, but much more reasonable load.

Physical Issues:
Did not have enough physical preparation for the hike. Ramped up my mileage too quickly, went from doing 7s to 17s and didn't let myself rest at all, just kept trying to do more mileage than I had the day before. This from a basically sedentary lifestyle. My body just didn't have time to heal day after day.

Dietary/Nutritional Issues:
I brought "too much food" but I also wasn't eating enough, or necessarily the right things. Crashed really hard the first week because I hadn't eaten more than 300 calories in 24 hours. That was a really rough day, but taught me to make myself eat something even if I'm not hungry. But my diet on the trail was very low in protein and iron, which are needed to build all that muscle. By the time I quit for the second time blood tests showed my iron levels were very low. I basically made myself anemic by building too much muscle too quickly without proper nutrition.

Mental Issues:
I hiked alone, and being a normally pretty solitary person I had no idea that the loneliness would get to me so much. Some people on WB complain about "overcrowding" on the trail, but hiking in New England in the early season it was very empty. Went entire days only seeing 1-2 other people and spending the night alone, I couldn't handle it. I probably wouldn't have quit if I had a partner with me to keep me from overstretching myself and skipping meals, and keep me from getting so bored/lonely.

Things I'll Change: Plan to try a section again next year, with a few differences. My gear list the second time out, being about 25 pounds with food and water, worked out well. I plan to be more physically prepared by doing more warm up hikes, and make myself eat properly and take resting days. Going to bring nutritional supplements, especially iron, but being more in shape to start will help with those deficits, too. Going to hike with a partner, or if I cannot find one look for a more populated part of the trail, probably by starting further south that early in the season."                

- courtesy of "Amanita"  

What are some reasons you haven't finished what you started out to do? Feel free to post a comment below (where it says Post a Comment.)

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