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Anyone ever regret a thru hike??
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Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
See you there on 03/27/2013 23:14:28 MDT Print View

I'm going for PCT 2014, whether it is a wise decision or not.

I can't add any more to this discussion than a suggestion to read "A Thru-Hikers Heart" by Ray Echols. My favorite book by far, and SO much better than wild ;)

Dirk R
Re; Anyone ever regret a thru hike? on 03/28/2013 01:36:06 MDT Print View

The only person I know to regret a thru-hike was a friend who basically became so fed up by the experience that he abandoned the trail after 900 miles. He regretted not forming strong bonds with other hikers along the PCT, as opposed to his experience on the AT, which was much better for whatever reason. His regret was born from high expectations and hope of recreating the experience of his first thru.

I hiked the PCT at age 39 and often wonder if I had started my thru-hiking career at say, age 23, how much different my life may have turned out. Obviously I have no regrets about the hike, although there are things I would have done diffidently in hindsight.

Similar to the experiences of others, the company where I work gave me a leave of absence that allowed me to pursue this dream, an incredibly kind gesture. There are no regrets, only good memories and a great appreciation for the sacrifices others made to help make an experience like this possible.

I wish you nothing but Happy Trails ahead.

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Re: Re; Anyone ever regret a thru hike? on 03/28/2013 01:48:13 MDT Print View

"...although there are things I would have done diffidently in hindsight."

please tell us more.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
The bigger question on 03/28/2013 04:41:36 MDT Print View

Will you spend the rest of your life wondering or regretting that you did not go for it when you had the opportunity.

A couple years ago I "tinkered" with the idea of climbing Kilimanjaro. No burning desire, just a "nice thing to do" kind of trip. My wife didn't warm up to the idea so I skipped it. No regrets on that one.

I would have regretted the trips in the Grand Canyon had I not done them.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Anyone ever regret a thru hike? on 03/28/2013 08:54:32 MDT Print View

Life is a thru hike, but it is a finite trip and you don't know how it ends. That means you better get busy!

There was an old JanSport advertisement that read, "GET OUT, WHILE YOU CAN." Says it all I think.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"...things I haven't done." on 03/29/2013 15:28:00 MDT Print View

I once saw an "off-off-Broadway" play in which the middle aged cop character said,"You know it's not the things I HAVE done that I regret, it's the things I haven't done."

Don have those regrets. Besides, after you are done put it in your resume (yes!) and you will find that the employers who like that are the kind you want to work for.

Bon Voyage! and Happy Trails.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
@ Jennifer on 03/29/2013 17:15:35 MDT Print View

So, Jennifer, you're DOING IT, right? C'mon -- let's hear it! The first step of long journey is a simple 'yes'. :)

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Oh yeah!!! on 03/29/2013 20:20:43 MDT Print View

You guys totally talked me into it!! As a matter of fact, a clinic in Oregon that I had been talking with - seemed like an awesome job - called and said they had a position for me, but I had to start this June.

I turned them down.

Need I say more??!!

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Oh yeah!!! on 03/29/2013 20:33:06 MDT Print View

Good for your, Jennifer!!

Now, I imagine there will be a lot of gear you'll need to buy. Have you started looking? :)

The Gear Enabler.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Gear? I get to buy gear? on 03/29/2013 20:57:11 MDT Print View

You know what my New Years resolution was? To NOT buy any more gear this year and simply to enjoy my rather nice kit.

I am already buying "my dad" a new shelter, apparently ill need a new ULA pack for the JMT (and now the PCT!) cause my gorilla isn't going to cut it. I'm looking at the skyscape X for a pct shelter (I can see how the net floor of the hexamid might get annoying...), just bought a downmat after my synmat blew up; I'm currently debating cap 4 bottoms vs cap 3 for the most versatile long underwear....


Where is that thread about having a gear problem?

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Gear? I get to buy gear? on 03/29/2013 21:51:24 MDT Print View

Well at least you got the sleeping pad right.

Daniel Pittman
(pitsy) - M

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Gear? I get to buy gear? on 03/29/2013 22:33:04 MDT Print View

How 'bout some wool underwears? I love my Cap3, but damn do they get stinky! I think I'd be using Merino wool on a long walk.

Dirk R
What I would change in retrospect on 03/30/2013 00:56:53 MDT Print View

"...although there are things I would have done diffidently in hindsight."

please tell us more.

Michael -

I would have done a number of things differently. First, I did study up on the trail and felt I had a fairly light gear.

The issues: being out of shape. You are a Pacific Northwesterner, like me, and you probably can appreciate the fact that hiking season really doesn't begin in earnest until mid-June when the mountains finally begin to melt out. Well, come May when I started I was still not in even good hiking shape. I'd be in better shape the next time, and not because the PCT is so strenuous. There are a lot of climbs and descents, but the grade of the trail isn't particularly difficult. The problem I had initially was due to the heat of Southern California. Going from barely breaking 60 degrees to 90+ degrees really socked it to me. Being in better shape would have helped, most certainly.

If I were to do it again, I'd ramp up the miles slowly. My feet and body would have thanked me for being more conservative in terms of miles early. Fewer miles would have helped my feet in particularly, which were pretty blistered and sore for the first two months. It took me a while to begin the practice, but early in the trip when temperatures soared, I stopped hiking midday. We'd hike from 5:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and then stop for four or five hours. We'd then get back underway and hike again until it got dark. It was surprising how it really didn't affect your overall mileage because you didn't have to carry a ton of water and you didn't wear yourself out as fast. Later in the hike hot days weren't really as much of an issue since by then I was in better shape.

I would have also like not to have been so obsessed, particularly early in the trip, with the goal of reaching Canada. I think this is normal - it took a while for me to relax and just learn to enjoy the moments and not worry about it. Make 20 miles a day for a 132 days, and you too will reach the border. Of course, town stops and zero (mile) days have their allure, which means....

...Taking zero days early in your trip come at the expense of zero days later in the trip. Ask anyone who is still hiking in late September / early October if they'd have liked to have a few of those zero days back - I know I did. But the truth is your second half of the trip will be much faster than the first half - you are bound to be a faster, better hiker by then.

I wouldn't worry so much about gear. Everyone talks about gear early in the trip. After 1,000 miles, NOBODY worries much about it. It all works, some better than others. People are comfortable with what they have. If anything, I became way less of a gear head doing the trip.

Hope that helps!


Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
thanks on 03/30/2013 11:12:21 MDT Print View

Thanks for the insight Dirk, always nice to read a succinct "what worked/what didn't"

Anthony Analetto
(Fubar2us) - F

Locale: MidWest USA
Hike on 04/01/2013 05:22:15 MDT Print View

I will say I wish I got into Hiking much earlier myself as well. I now have the Family, Mortgage, and Career to keep in check. Luckily my job allows for a few weeks off here and there but never anything that would allow for me to do a full thru hike. I have been able to do Sections of the NCT but due to it still being under construction and me not wanting to do long miles of road walking I don’t end up with more than 40 or so miles on the trail.

Wife knows she will be without me when I retire at 52 in 2032 and I will be on the AT, PCT the following year, and CDT after that.

I regret not being able to thru hike. I regret not finding my passion and appreciation for the outdoors until after I had made commitments. I regret that I am not willing to take the risks that it would involve for me to do the hikes I want to do now.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: What I would change in retrospect on 04/01/2013 06:47:57 MDT Print View

Dirk that was very helpful. One of the (smaller) goals I have for such a trip is to STOP being such a gear obsessive nerd. I'm sure I'm not the only one who spends long stretches between trips drooling over cool gear because I don't have sufficient opportunity to use what I have.

The thru hike bug really hit last year while I was in Patagonia. We stretched the trek to 11 days to take side trips and I found I just wanted to keep walking and walking and walking...and other than really wanting a shower I had no desire to stop sleeping in my tent and getting up every day with no responsibility except to walk. I wanted to do it until I was bored of it...then do it some more. Mentally and physically it was such a free feeling.....

So yes, the gear obsession, I believe, is what happens when you enjoy something but don't get to do it every day. How else do you channel your hobby?? So if you really do get to do it everyday - even when you don't want to - it makes sense that you stop obsessing about your kit.

Which means even without 6 months' would actually be CHEAPER...............

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Anyone ever regret a thru hike??" on 04/01/2013 10:15:53 MDT Print View

I've never done the entirety of the pct at one go, but in my mind I would always skip the the whole first bit from the Mexican border to well into the southern Sierra. I always figure that I could do this bit later. In other words, I'm not a 'completist'. The desert section of the pct presents so many problems (water primarily) for fewer rewards (for me!) that I'd rather just begin in the mountains. Sorry if this comment is a bit of a drift.

In short,given time/job constraints, I'd regret thinking that I had to do the whole pct border to border or it wouldn't count. Surely two months or so of hiking the trail is very worthy in and of itself.

The guy who wants to pogo stick the jmt to set a record...wants to set a record. Maybe hiking the whole enchilada doesn't have to be an end in itself.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Chunk vs. thru-hiking on 04/02/2013 09:57:47 MDT Print View

A couple of comments about this:
"I've never done the entirety of the pct at one go, but in my mind I would always skip the the whole first bit from the Mexican border to well into the southern Sierra. I always figure that I could do this bit later. In other words, I'm not a 'completist'. The desert section of the pct presents so many problems (water primarily) for fewer rewards (for me!) that I'd rather just begin in the mountains."

The reality of a thru-hike I think is *typically* different than what people expect it to be, and that was certainly the case in spades for me in two different "dry sections". I approached SoCal (and sadly, also NM on another trip) with similar feelings. I'm now very glad that I hiked that.

The not-really-a "desert" stretch of the PCT is such a different climate than where I live in terms of land form, flora and fauna, and it offers some real advantages. Starting earlier in the year for one. Being able to wash things and those dry fast. Sleeping under the stars every night, while coyotes yip and howl, just like you're living in a cowboy movie.

Another thing for a thru-hiker, though, is that those first 700 miles or so is a sort of "bonding" time where pretty much everyone you meet on the trail is someone attempting a thru-hike. If you jump on trail later, you can still join the "tribe", but it's a very rich experience IMO to start right from the beginning with others who are also having such an adventure.

Finally, it's a big advantage to have 700 miles of experience and body-toughening/strengthening under your belt before getting into the Sierras.

I think that it CAN make excellent sense to "chunk" hike (hike a large percentage of) rather than thru-hike a trail, but for me at least, that wouldn't include skipping the beginning bits.

In terms of obsessing on gear --- a lot of wise words spoken there. Just practically speaking, people get bored with gear discussion after a while. In the first few hundred miles everyone wants to talk about gear and about people getting trail names. After that, the names are mostly in place and the gear has just become "your stuff", and you talk about anything but (certainly food-related conversations are high on the list).

Dirk R
Re: What I would change in retrospect on 04/03/2013 01:39:16 MDT Print View

Ozzy and Jennifer - you are both welcome. Glad to be of help. I must confess the thru-hiking experience leaves me sounding something like the bride who can't quit talking about her wedding that happened four years ago. I am sure others tire of hearing about it. But really, i would urge you all to give it a go when circumstances allow.

But if you want better advice, I would follow the lead of Brian, he's a a Triple Crowner (all three major trails completed.) I'd urge you to pick up his e-book named "Make Your First Thru-Hike a Success". I wish it had been around prior to my trip, would have saved me a lot of grief. It is full of practical advice and insights.

Jennifer, I agree on the gear thing. It makes the hobby fun and certainly, being gear obsessed in backpacking is way cheaper than other hobbies. I have taken up cycling but refuse to get caught up in the arms race that is bike technology. I don't have the deep pockets.

As for your revelation about wanting to be outside, I would urge you to try a thru hike when you can make the time. Financially it can be a hit. But I never think about the cost, only the benefit of having done such a trip.


Edited by Dirk on 04/03/2013 01:45:00 MDT.

Eric Marcano

Locale: Southcentral Texas
Just Do It on 04/04/2013 20:03:43 MDT Print View

Such a cliche, that phrase, and yet those three small words have such power and punch. Jennifer, I'll be right behind you...maybe by a year or two, but I'll be there, walking along the paths that you and many others have taken. I'm 46, mid-career, and nothing to show for it in the sense that, with no spouse or pets or debt, i haven't made a firm commitment to do what I've dreamed of. I've NO excuse to not begin my adventures.

This thread has been inspiring and I appreciate the candid question you asked to initiate it. I now have a plan and it involves simplicity, risk, and many nights under a tarp :-)

Wishing you the best!