November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Anyone ever regret a thru hike??
Display Avatars Sort By:
peter vacco

Locale: no. california
Re: Anyone ever regret a thru hike?? on 03/26/2013 19:36:41 MDT Print View

it depends upon you "coin of the realm".
if you look at a decent trek as "how much did it cost", that is fine (and you will earn no-place special doing that dogma).
if you look at a work as "it cost me 14 eff'n months not walking to afford this ridiculous condo: .. thee may well be better served.
it just depends upon what is your particular currency. money ? or time ? or miles ? or in my case .. views, solitude, fear, and ice.

at the present time, one value can be reasonably traded for another. coming pretty soon, you may not be able to where you want.

i started too late. 20 years perhaps.
i have a career, and in the last 10 days two previous employers have called trying to lure me back. that is very nice a feeling, to have a good rep. it is also a nice feeling to have a long red line on the map on the wall.

it is your life, the decision can not be taken back once the time is spent.
consider carefully that careers these days are more about sucking butt than competency.
and make your choice.
why would you listen to somebody telling you Not to go ?
why would you not listen to somebody telling you how to properly wire your garage ?
because if you can not listen to others, then your ears and the space between them is most likely a wasted thing, eh.


Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Tomorrow is not guaranteed. on 03/26/2013 20:05:42 MDT Print View

Like other posters have mentioned, I have a gorgeous wife and kids I love dearly so most of my personal adventures are a group project. I've put my wife on notice that I will be PCT class of 2022 (she's already given me a hell no for joining me.) Honestly, the thought of leaving her for 6+ months leaves a knife in my heart. I've already deployed away from her for a couple years combined so I'm not excited about doing it on a voluntary basis. The reality is that this is at the very tiptop of my bucket list and no one (at least very few) can step on that trail as a through hiker without making some form of a personal sacrifice. If it was easy then everyone would do it.

I'm grateful for the few years I worked on an ambulance as an EMT to teach me how finite and precious life is. I've seen enough tragedy to know that I'm not guaranteed a damn thing so I try to do my living now. I'm fortunate to have a job which will allow me to retire when I'm 51 so I'll be plenty young enough to give the triple crown a go if I have it in me. Until then I'm satisfying my backpacking needs with weekend hikes and the occasional intermediate length hike.

Go so I can live vicariously though you!

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Having a job when I'm done on 03/26/2013 20:14:24 MDT Print View

Yeah, if you are a PT you won't have an issue. One of my friends who did a PCT hike in '09 is one.......

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Having a job when I'm done on 03/26/2013 20:28:22 MDT Print View

"NONE of them said, "Get back to school, start a real job, get a mortgage, and settle down real soon."

Well, I took the opposite tack and I am really happy that I did...

I got my MBA when I was 25 - finished on a Friday and started work the following Monday -- and I made a conscious effort to save up. I retired at the end of 2003 when I was 42 -- and took up backpacking in 2004. My "virgin" multi-day trip was at Wind Rivers, and I loved it!! I also travel abroad for 2 months (sometimes more) each year -- hosteling -- picking whichever countries I fancy at the particular moment. While I haven't worked a day or earned a dime -- my stock portfolio is still just about the same as it was back in 2004 -- even with the recession. Yes, the cup of plenty that replenishes itself can be a reality -- but you have to lay down the ground work first. Pay your dues, then kick back and have fun.

Financial success comes in all shapes and sizes. But in my case, I was ALWAYS just a salary man -- so I think I can say that it is (1) do-able if you are married with children and (2) pretty easy actually if you are single -- like me -- with a fraction of the expenses of most families -- unless you unwisely choose to live beyond your means.

So, I DO advise younger adults to get serious about their careers and their savings/investments. America has one of the highest incomes in the entire world. There is NO earthly reason why we can't enjoy a little AND save up as well. Do y'all really need to have a new iPhone every time Apple comes out with one? Rhetoric, of course, but y'all know what I mean...

But back to OP's question. As a single woman with responsibility mostly or only to yourself -- I say GO FOR IT. Why not? When I was in-between jobs back in 1999, I took off for a month, traveling in India and Uzbekistan. Loved it!! And given that you like hiking -- you likely will too. And what's the worst outcome anyway? You start the hike, you hate it -- all you have to do is drop out and fly on to PNW -- given yourself more time to settle down and look for a new job. And how is that bad?

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Two thoughts on 03/26/2013 21:30:14 MDT Print View

1. I didn't do a through hike, but I did drop out of my university and spend five years living in Europe. It was considerably more educational than my years in school (I never did get a degree), and way more important for who I turned out to be. Not a single regret.

2. I have just been invited to speak at a major national conference in my profession. It would be a real feather in my cap---but I've already got a backpacking permit for those dates in SEKI...and I am not giving that up. I told them I'd do it next year...

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Anyone ever regret a thru hike?? on 03/27/2013 05:13:02 MDT Print View


I would ask, what to you want out of this hike?

When I was young I did two 6-month hikes. Basically started in the southern Sierras with no goal and destination in mind. Started hiking north. After 3 months I turned around and returned, not always taking the same trails back. I was alone most of the time, which I think was the best part. Those trips are in my mind. The memories cannot be lost or taken away from me. I cannot assign a value of any sort to them. They are there, big and and somewhat difficult to quantify.

I have thought about doing the PCT. The one thing that does not appeal to me is the social aspect, a time table to get to the end, and the constant re-supply along the trail to meet your time table. To me it sounds more like a job than an adventure.

When I was newly married (the first time) my wife and I did a 3 month, 10,000 mile motorcycle trip from Calif, to NY, through parts of Canada, and back. We towed a miniature tent trailer and it was a great trip. Different kind of trip, different goals. Different memories.

When I was 50 (and single again) I lived and worked from a tent trailer. Camped in all kinds of great places and worked a few days each week in locations around the southwest. Wonderful life and again had a great time. This was my nomadic stage of life. No great memories, just a sense of satisfaction of living in the work-world on my terms.

When I had kids, I didn't have the urge to do long hikes away from family. I still hiked a lot; but raising kids was job #1 and there was a lot of life satisfaction to this. I wouldn't change that period of time for anything. No regrets during this phase of life.

I have been married to my 2nd wife for 10 years. I am thinking about a possible PCT through hike. I think I may want to do one last big solo adventure. But I don't know that I want to be away from my wife for 6 months; and there is no way she would be willing to join me. The PCT would allow me to stay in frequent contact with her, but in my mind the frequent contact with her and others on the trail might diminish the "adventure" piece of the experience. It would not be as much fun as other adventures in the past. It would be a compromise for me.

I have made a lot of life-changing decisions; decisions that might impact career and even family relationships negatively. Once I have mentally determined "no regrets" no matter what the outcome; even if worst case scenario happens, I go for it.

Sounds like career, family or income are not an issue for you. That is good, because for many folks that is the overriding factor why they don't do something they dream about. So again, what do you want out of this trip? If it is something you just have to do; do it. If it is not a fire in your soul, reconsider.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Nick I love your wisdom on 03/27/2013 05:34:47 MDT Print View

As always, your insights are solid. Thank you. Now back to regular programming.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Very Balanced on 03/27/2013 06:15:18 MDT Print View

This conversation is much more balanced (and rational) than the typical " I'm going to chuck my job and hike."

Ben, you post is a very different take and one that in hindsight in my life makes the most sense.

I was fortunate to be able to take a leave of absence from my Company to hike the PCT. I literally went back to work the morning after arriving back in Atlanta. Your post detailing the ease that you can return to a similar job leads me to put your situation in pot the same bucket as mine, you are putting a career on hold likely to pick it up upon your return. So assuming you can fund the short term then there is little downside to doing it.

Since you live on the west coast, have your wife follow you in a motor home and meet you on whatever frequency you chose. That is my dream, hike a long day and have a shower, meal and comfy bed waiting at a road crossing. (And my wife too!). But in second thought, that does sound too much like work.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Very Balanced on 03/27/2013 06:44:18 MDT Print View

Since you live on the west coast, have your wife follow you in a motor home and meet you on whatever frequency you chose. That is my dream, hike a long day and have a shower, meal and comfy bed waiting at a road crossing. (And my wife too!). But in second thought, that does sound too much like work."

Re: comfy bed/shower/meals - this is certainly one of appeals of the GR-10 which is also on my bucket list.

I did a section hike of the PCT last year and ran into a lady through hiker on the trail in Washington. Her husband wasn't into the idea of the hike so he would leapfrog up the trail in their RV and she would meet him along the way for resupplies and to enjoy some time together.

I'm trying to come up with a plan where my wife could drive an RV or campervan that she would be comfortable in where we could do something like this.

Jan S
Re: Re: Very Balanced on 03/27/2013 07:49:25 MDT Print View

"Re: comfy bed/shower/meals - this is certainly one of appeals of the GR-10 which is also on my bucket list. "

It's the standard mode of European hiking and works anywhere (provided you are willing to pay for it) except for the far north.

The dog: Can't he come along?

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Yes, a nice balanced discussion on 03/27/2013 08:56:25 MDT Print View

All the insights here are great. As I mentioned, I can't really find a good reason not to do it other than fear of casting aside what is comfortable and known (and socially accepted) to venture into the unknown. I have great family support and encouragement, the job issue will be fine (heck, as an orthopedic PT living in the Pacific Northwest I would think having done the PCT would actually be a positive credential, eh?) and if I work really hard for the next year saving and getting rid of bills and obligations...

Anyone want to buy a couch and some dishes??

Besides, in my 20s I was also quite adventurous and lived a rather nomadic lifestyle all over the globe. This is nothing new to me, I'm just a tad rusty at it. And all this encouragement is very, very helpful.

As for the dog, way back when I really had thought of taking him, but it seems a thru hike is NOT a good idea for a dog, especially the PCT. The mileage and the desert heat would kill him :(

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Regrets on 03/27/2013 12:07:04 MDT Print View

A hospice nurse did a survey of the regrets of people about to die. The top regret was failure to be true to oneself. Number 2 was working too hard. Number 5 was not letting yourself be happy. I think a thru-hike would be a good antidote to all of these.

My GF and I are roughly at your stage of life (30s-40s, fancy degrees, established careers, etc.). We are both quitting our jobs and getting rid of most of our stuff to thru-hike the CDT this year. Some things are more important than money, houses, or careers.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
For more on this ... on 03/27/2013 12:26:03 MDT Print View

I know that this discussion has come up at least once on whiteblaze, so if you want even more (!) on it, search there; it's about the same thing in this case whether the AT or PCT.

W.r.t. the recommendation to read 'Wild' I agree with whoever suggested that you don't read it. It won't give you a sense of what a more typical thru-hike experience is like. I think that it's unfortunate that for both the AT and now the PCT the standard "thru-hike" book that everyone seems to know about is by a person that doesn't finish the trail and didn't approach it in the way that thru-hikers generally do. At least Bill Bryson is funny.

In case no one has already pointed this out, please don't be insulted if I mention the really obvious fact that you're going to get a skewed set of responses by posting this question on a site like this one. OTOH, like Mags and likely some others here, I know quite a lot of thru-hikers, and can't think of any that has regrets.

Yet OTOH, that's a skewed group too, as I mostly know the subset of people who finished their trails. If you could somehow poll those who attempt a thru-hike but for whatever reason don't finish, you might get a different average response, but I suspect that in general those folks are less likely to be posting in hiking forums (?).

Only you can know all the dynamics of your situation; I wish you the best of good fortune with whatever you decide.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Writing the purple prose on 03/27/2013 15:25:32 MDT Print View

I wrote this a few years back. Perhaps it will help and/or enlighten and/or make you bored to tears. ;)

I need to update it for 2013 (I am married now. That is one one rather significant change. :D)

rowan !

Locale: SF Bay Area
Go! on 03/27/2013 15:51:50 MDT Print View

My mother used to say to me, "If you wait until you can afford something, it will never happen." If you wait until you are absolutely sure this is the "right" decision, that time will never come. There will always be unknowns. And I think all of us have an innate need to meet the unknown face to face, however much we may fear it. We recognize somewhere deep inside that security, predictability, and permanence are all illusions -- very strong illusions that give the appearance of reality, but nonetheless illusory.

It sounds to me as though your heart has already decided; best to stop second-guessing it and do what you desire. Imagine yourself at the end of your days, looking back on your life. Can you really picture yourself saying, "Oh, I wish I had never followed my heart. I wish I had stayed where things were familiar and routine, and vaguely unsatisfying."?

Edited by romonster on 03/27/2013 15:53:21 MDT.

Confused Newbie

Locale: Northern CO
on being careful on 03/27/2013 16:42:27 MDT Print View

Years ago, at 22, I left my computer programmer job in a run down city and moved to Oregon. I figured I'd spend the next 10 years playing and working odd jobs, then go to graduate school thereafter. It didn't work out. I had already dropped out of college due to lack of funds, and so I was a poor long-haired guy with little employability, even though I worked hard when I had a chance, and worked very hard in trying to find jobs. During this time I got sick, and had little access to medical care, and typically was living month to month. It wasn't fun, and I wish I had been more thoughtful in my approach to trying to live an active outdoor life.

Life is great now, but I mention this because I had thought if I followed my dreams the rest would work itself out, and it didn't. I wish I would have stayed in my job, finished college and then graduate school earlier, and established my career first. This is a little different from taking 3 months off for a thru hike of course, but figured it might be relevant to the discussion.

Edited by confused on 03/27/2013 18:05:27 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: on being careful on 03/27/2013 17:58:27 MDT Print View

I would love to take a break in my "career" but cannot do so at the moment.

It does not really bother me as I can get out most weekends backpacking, skiing, doing water sports as much as I want and get to go on cool backpacking trips all over the US and back in Europe every couple of months.

I say go for it :-)

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
GO! on 03/27/2013 18:06:25 MDT Print View

Jennifer, if that's what you want, go for it!

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Three PCT starts, no regrets on 03/27/2013 21:04:14 MDT Print View


I started variations on PCT thru-hikes in 1976, 1980, and 2003. All ended after a few days or weeks.

I had immediate regrets, mostly over not finishing and not having a Plan B, and in one case, losing a girlfriend.

But in the long run – no regrets. I'm glad I made all the attempts, they helped make me who I am today.

My advice: Go for it. You will regret not starting much more.

-- Rex

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: GO! on 03/27/2013 21:31:06 MDT Print View

Jen, that fear of what's comfortable is really just bratty boys throwing rocks at you. Remove the shackles of fear and Go Jen, Go!