It’s pretty amazing how much we hear this line from people. A lot of times it’s dayhikers – “Ohhh, you’re at the end of the hikers. You’re not going to make it.” Yes, we’re toward the tail end of the thru hiking season. And yes, the trailhead to Kathadin closes on October 15 (sort of). But it is somewhat depressing when we meet people who really have no idea about us as hikers who immediately tell us we’re not going to make it in time. A lot of hikers get mad about it, I normally just walk away from it. It’s better not to deal with it.
The thing is though, they don’t see what thru-hikers put in every day. They don’t see the twenty mile days, they don’t see the twenty five mile days, and they normally can’t conceive of thirty mile days at all (let alone the maniacs who pull off 40 or 50 mile days sometimes – sickos). All they see at that point in time is a ragged, dirty hiker who is still hundreds of miles away from Katahdin with only a month and a half to go. Before I started this hike, I would have said there’s no way a person can travel by foot that far in that little time – there’s no way. And if you do it, you must be some kind of fool.
But after being out here, and meeting all the people who are pulling this off, and who will finish in time, the extraordinary has become somewhat ordinary for us. When people tell us we’re not going to make it, we take it as somewhat of an insult – because we can do it, and most of us will do it.
And you know what, sometimes stuff happens. And yes, we may not make it. I just heard of a guy who broke an ankle only 100 miles from Katahdin. One hundred miles!!! He was right there! And in a second, his thru hike was gone. So yea, we may not make it. And if we don’t, so be it. We can come back next year and finish it out. Or if we never finish it out, we’ve already accomplished something amazing. Some may consider it a failure to not reach the top, but I don’t see it that way at all. It’s a journey we’re on. We’re meeting new people, we’re seeing new things. We’re not out here to stand atop a mountain. We’re here to walk the country, to hit all the gaps and valleys, and then to climb up to all the high points as well. We’re here for the experience of months, not for the snapshot we get at the top (although I must say, that will be nice!!!).
So hey, if we make it, we make it. If we don’t, we don’t. It is not the end of the world if we don’t get to Katahdin. It’s just another page in all of our books. Everyone is out here for a different reason. The hike is not the reason, that’s just the way we make our personal reasons manifest.
Really all I really want to say is that it’s not anyone’s place but our own to say whether we’ll make it or not. Whether we summit at the end or not, most of us have already made it.
So next time I hear “You’re not going to make it,” I’m just going to turn to that person, raise my hand to shoo them away, and tell them, “Get out of here you weirdos.”