Mentally Preparing For a Thru-Hike

Thru-hikes are end-to-end backpacking trips that last on average of 5 months where the hiker takes on trails that are more than 2,600 miles long. The Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail are classic trails for thru-hiking in the US.

Thru-hiking isn’t for rookies, only the most seasoned hikers have what it takes to leave everything behind, take on the toughest of terrain and hike for several months. Living off a backpack under the open skies is anything but glamorous; it takes a toll on you physically and mentally.

Many hikers who feel like they can take on thru-hike trails do take the time out to train physically but lack the mental strength.

Check out these tips to help prepare mentally for a thru-hikes:

1. Know That Adjustment Takes Time

The first few days of a hike are the hardest. The change hits you hard, and the temptation to turn back is strong. It will take at least 4-5 days to familiarize yourself with nature and feel secure out in the open.

Use the first weeks of your trip to create a routine for yourself; have fun and take the time to enjoy the view. Give your body the time to recover and don’t push too hard. Connect with your surroundings, talk to those around you and use some of your time to exercise to avoid injuries.

Once you’ve developed a routine, the long hikes will get easier by the day.

2. Be Prepared For An Emotional Rollercoaster

Walking with wet feet in shoes

Even the most seasoned hikers lose their cool now and then on the trail—it’s normal and perfectly fine. Depending on where and when you’re hiking you can be pounded with rain and thrashed by cold winds all while trudging through muddy trails while you desperately look for shelter.

Walking with wet feet in shoes that are drenched is bound to get frustrating. Before you go for a thru-hike, know that things aren’t always going to go as planned and there will be tough times that you will have to deal with.

Thru-hiking is difficult and will challenge you in new ways every day.

3. Set Mini-Goals

You have the tall task of making it to the end of the trail up ahead. It’s going to be a rough ride and it will take you months. But instead of thinking of how many months of hiking you have left. Set small targets for yourself. Break the trail into the smaller trails; these wills serve as your mini-goals so you have something to feel proud about every few days.

Mini-goals do wonders for your morale and give you the encouragement and self-assurance you need to keep going.

Whenever you decide to go on a thru-hike, be sure to purchase a backpack from Light Hiking Gear. We have a wide selection of award-winning backpacks that were designed using scientific research. Our bags provide the support you need to take on the toughest hiking trails in the world.

Our collection consists of affordable daypacks, StrongLites, and UltraLites. Place your order today, there’s free shipping for everyone in the US!


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