Did you know that according to statistics, only around 75 percent of those who set out on a thru-hike this season will succeed. Even when it's a good idea to stop, many hikers find it more difficult to do so than to continue.
There may be several indications during our trip that can signal us to stop and even make it the best decision rather than just continuing. Here are some of those posing matters that you might consider during your trip.
OUR BODY CAN’T SEEM TO PUSH IT THROUGH
It is when our mind says yes but our body seems to not respond in a way our mind wants us to do. These scenarios range to:
Having skin issues such as, hands and legs develop a stinging rash. Even though you persistently applied sunscreen every two hours, it still didn't work. This may progress to full-blown heat rash that can cover almost the entirety of your legs, chest, and fingertips.
Chafing can also become eminent and failure to prevent and even manage chafing when you have it can impair the progress of your trip.
Tired arms and sore legs are another thing to consider. If your motor muscles don’t work properly, taking a small step will seem hard to impossible.
SUDDEN SITUATIONS OUTSIDE YOUR TRIP THAT REQUIRES YOU PACK UP AND NOT CONTINUE
We all know that our life is unpredictable and certain situations even from a well planned trip can go out of hand and may even require us to stop. One situation is if there are far more important matters that have happened outside your hike such as a valuable decision is needed to your business and it requires you to be there. Another thing is, pressing family matters and obligations such as your wife/husband or a family member needs some kind of assistance. Of course this scenario heavily requires you to be dependent on your stable communication from the outside world(outside the trail), when you’re on this certain scene that you need to choose if you’re going to push through or stop, the best thing to remember is, weigh in the importance of both situations. Being able to choose and prioritize what needs to be finished first is a skill we all need to have.
GEAR IS BROKEN
Our gear is an important part of our hike. Without them you’ll not be able to work yourself out from the different challenges nature has to offer during your trip. In situations where for example, your GPS has gone down, your tent was destroyed, or you just lost half of your equipment because it fell from a cliff or down to a stream and cannot retrieve it, then it is better to stop, head back and make your return home. Continuing so will give you far more difficulty to the point that your safety might be compromised.
INJURIES AND THE “TOUGH IT OUT” MENTALITY
Injuries during your trip such as major ones like, leg sprain, broken arm/leg, inability to breathe properly, fatigue, fever and being disoriented are signs that you needed to stop your trip. It is recommended that we all learn how to do first aid so that we know what to do if scenarios like these happen either to us or to our hiking partners.
There are times that minor injuries such as chafing or having blisters and sunburns are manageable and apart from the first-aid treatment we do with these type scenarios, we often just “tough it out”. It is when we mentally push ourselves that we can do it, a perfect example of a “mind over matter” situation. But remember that these minor injuries can progress to those that can be hard to manage and may even require us to not continue that hike. As we said earlier, it is best to assess your body if it can really continue and finish the hike.
IF YOU’RE NOT FIT FOR IT BETTER STOP AND NOT DO IT
This is a no brainer. Challenging your body, what it naturally can’t accomplish or do, is not the best idea when doing a hiking trip. Know your limits. Each and everyone of our bodies are built different, some are built to do stressful activities, others don’t. It is best to know what you are capable of. During your trip, if you are able to assess that a certain trail or situation is beyond what your body can handle, it is best to just stop. Remember that your safety and welfare is what matters most than finishing the hike.
Whether it's a longer stretch of the path or the entire trail, if hikers fall short of their initial ambitions this season and require them to stop the hike, we hope they may understand that it doesn't impair the value of their efforts and the hike itself when not finishing it.
What really is important is to consider your learning from the event and your self-respect to what your body can do during your trip. This attitude has taken us a while to develop, but it feels like the proper one at the moment. Keep the trails coming! Cheers!