Pain and misery?
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Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Pain and misery? on 07/16/2012 12:54:43 MDT Print View

I just checked out a number of trail reports on the web for the PCT between Snoqualmie pass and Stevens pass, a hike my wife and I are considering in the next couple of years. A large majority of the reports said that the crew really suffered on the hike, in many cases despite having light packs and using trail runners. They mentioned sore feet and knees, sore leg muscles, blisters, back and shoulder pain, loneliness and other things. This was in addition to minor grumbling about mosquitoes, rain, not enough food, etc. In all cases they reported that it was worth it in the end and they wanted to go back.

From reading these reports one gets the impression that backpacking this section is really a battle between pain and misery on the one hand, and enjoying the trail and scenery on the other.

I'm no spring chicken, let alone in Olympic athlete condition, and I've been on more strenuous trips. But other than a blister once a few years ago (unsuccessful experiment with a lighter sock strategy) I have never experienced pain and misery since going light/UL.

I find it hard to believe I'm unique and that everyone else suffers. Are trail reports mainly written by people who had a painful and difficult trip?

Do you suffer on the trail?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Pain and misery? on 07/16/2012 13:30:00 MDT Print View

Some of us have the common sense to ease off before pain and misery start. In others, there is delayed action pain and misery, so they think that they are easing off before the pain and misery, but then it catches up with them later and they are sore and stiff by the following day.

Everybody has a different threshold of pain. In other words, how much abuse does your body accept before the pain sensors start sending their signals?

To put it differently, if you are suffering on the trail, then you are probably doing something wrong.

--B.G.--

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Pain and misery? on 07/16/2012 13:36:48 MDT Print View

Pain and misery are relative.

The longest trip I have done is the JMT and the biggest challenge I found was working myself up the switchbacks and dealing with snow/ice covering the trail while dealing with shortness of breath due to altitude.

Pain in my feet after a long hard day of hiking, which might mean that I hiked too long that day, was not in shape for the trip, or maybe did not take enough breaks.

Since going UL, no pain and misery associated with the weight on my back.

Maybe pain and suffering are the result of bad planning, such as a shortage of food, unexpected navigation error, pushing too many miles than your body can take in a day???

All you can do is plan best you can, anticipate possible problems, and adapt to the unexpected....isn't the nature of people on the trail to push themselves to some degree simply to see if they can do something?

-Tony

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Pain and misery? on 07/16/2012 13:58:04 MDT Print View

some of us seek out pain and misery ...
to reassure ourselves we're still here :-)

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Pain and misery on 07/16/2012 16:41:26 MDT Print View

Did that bit 3 years ago.
I thought that it was very easy.
(mind yo I was only 54 then...) For reference I had about 14 kg/30 lbs (inc food and some water) on me at the start.
Great walk....
Here is a funny video (from my mate) on this .
Start at about 2:30
http://www.yart.com.au/pa/page.aspx?ID=131
Franco
Oh dear...
I just watched that video again and yes Pedro did have knee pains but not caused by that walk he already had a problem knee.
Anyway no pain no blister for me so nothing wrong with that walk it is spectacular.

Edited by Franco on 07/16/2012 17:10:55 MDT.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Wa PCT on 07/16/2012 18:09:05 MDT Print View

That section was not all that hard, in fact it was probably easier than many others in Wa.

As far as pain and misery..... I'm more like Art. I like to be sore the next day, it lets me know I'm alive.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Wa PCT on 07/16/2012 21:03:45 MDT Print View

Photobucket

I had a miserable trip on that section and yet I loved it. I had lost my Mom days before and I spent half the trip hiking and crying. It was hot, buggy, lonely and we did too many miles each day. My feet were hamburger, I rolled my ankle. I ran out of food and hiked 19+ miles the last day to get out a day early.

Spectacle Lake

And yet it was one of the best PCT trips I have taken. Gorgeous. It taught me a lot about socks and having enough food...lol!

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
PCT on 07/16/2012 22:59:40 MDT Print View

That last photo is amazing Sarah. Thanks for posting.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Pain and misery on 07/16/2012 23:50:53 MDT Print View

Great minds...
PCT 13

Edited by Franco on 07/16/2012 23:51:34 MDT.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Pain and misery? on 07/17/2012 00:29:15 MDT Print View

Well, I find low-grade pain manageable, misery more or less related to my food/water situation!

I would concur with Greg, among sections of the PCT in Washington, it's easier than many, but also has the advantage of some incredibly scenic views. The climb at the beginning is probably the hardest of the journey. From Snoqualmie Pass to the Canadian border is arguably my favorite section of the entire PCT. Oh, the Sierra is great (and the weather is sublime), don't get me wrong, but I really like the wild character of the PCT in the northern reaches of Washington.

Have fun!

Dirk

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Suck is mental. on 07/17/2012 10:03:46 MDT Print View

So, an infantryman is sitting in his tent trying to dry his socks and popping blisters while the rain pours down and says "This sucks."
Just down the valley is a Marine standing in a foxhole with water to his knees and a poncho over his head who says "I LOVE how this sucks!"
In the next valley over is a Ranger who's trying to catch some sleep in a mud puddle with just his eyes and nose showing above the water who is thinking "Gee, I wish this could suck some MORE!"
At that moment an Air Force jet flies over. The pilot looks out his window, sips his macchiato and says "Wow. It really looks like it sucks down there."

So, suck is relative. Suck is mental. Some people enjoy suck. Some people, OTOH, aren't happy unless they have something to complain about. I try not to hike with them. IMHO sore feet is nothing to complain about- it's merely a minor cost of getting out there and hiking.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Suck is mental. on 07/17/2012 10:44:38 MDT Print View

I agree with Dean - pain is personal. I trekked with an ex-Army buddy recently and the weather turned poor, very poor and as we hiked into camp, wet, frozen and fighting hypothermia, I looked at him and all I could see was an enormous smile on his face. Things could always be worse.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Suck is mental. on 07/17/2012 10:49:28 MDT Print View

Various scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail fit so well in so many discussions in these forums. I'm thinking the Black Knight bit fits very well here.....

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Suck is mental. on 07/17/2012 10:54:03 MDT Print View

I should also add that this is the first time that I have ever agreed with Dean and hell hath frozen.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Pain and misery? on 07/17/2012 11:05:00 MDT Print View

Yep, the Washington Cascades are steep, rocky, wet, and beautiful. And very much the reason I LOVE ultralight gear. I handle steep switchbacks by taking my time and smelling a lot of roses along the way.


Here's an approach to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in early June, with snowmelt turning the "trail" into a little water fall. Not 25-miles-a-day terrain :)

Rough trail -- not for night hiking!

Edited by dwambaugh on 07/17/2012 11:06:34 MDT.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Pain and misery? on 07/17/2012 16:52:36 MDT Print View

Perceptions...
There is a funny bit about that in that video I posted above .
Start at 14:40 http://www.yart.com.au/pa/page.aspx?ID=131
Pedro goes on and on about how tough it is, wait for my response
Franco
(it's only about 15sec long...)

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Pain and misery? on 07/17/2012 19:36:41 MDT Print View

"A large majority of the reports said that the crew really suffered on the hike, in many cases despite having light packs and using trail runners. They mentioned sore feet and knees, sore leg muscles, blisters, back and shoulder pain, loneliness and other things. This was in addition to minor grumbling about mosquitoes, rain, not enough food, etc."

Sounds to me like they're out of shape and relatively new to our noble pastime. That is a pretty tame part of the Cascades if you stick to the trail. It is incredibly beautiful, though.

Edited: Sarah's and Franco's pictures of Spectacle Lake, IIRC, are great examples of what you can expect in the way of scenery along that section of the PCT. Classic Cascade scenery. Great pictures, Sarah and Franco. You really captured the ambience.

Edited by ouzel on 07/17/2012 20:06:36 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Pain and misery? on 07/17/2012 19:42:59 MDT Print View

Supposedly, there are four types of memories from an experience like backpacking.

1. The very best and happiest times
2. The mildly pleasant times
3. The mildly unpleasant times
4. The very worst and saddest times

Overall, people tend to remember mostly 1, 2, and 4. Category 3 tends to get shuffled out of the memory banks quickest. Hopefully, there aren't many category 4 memories to begin with.

--B.G.--

Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: Re: Pain and misery? on 07/17/2012 20:22:51 MDT Print View

Amusing discussion. If it does not suck, then it sucks.

Daniel Cox
(COHiker) - F

Locale: San Isabel NF
Re: Pain and misery? on 07/17/2012 20:39:53 MDT Print View

Everyone needs a little 'type II fun' every now and again. Keeps it fresh.

I do think that suffering caused by poor fitness or overpacking is pointless though.