10 Comments

  1. Karen
    Karen October 6, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    I wonder if that psychological effect is maximized while hiking alone? Then there is the psychology of hiking with others and the complexity of relationships. When I one day will backpack again in the lower 48 I’ll have to deal with being in a tent for so many hours of darkness – something I don’t encounter here even in shoulder seasons. I’m not afraid of the dark, but being in darkness for many more hours than I need to sleep…don’t remember what I used to do with all that time! Will I be bored? Relaxed? Learn to see better in the dark?

  2. Kathy
    Kathy October 6, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Excellent post, and an aspect that is not addressed very often on other blogs.

    The first day for me, is always horrible. No matter how much I have prepared, I always feel I will never make it and start getting phantom pains and problems. Even if I have done this portion as a day hike, (to Little Yose Valley, as an example) it feels much more difficult. My legs hurt, my back hurts, I feel tired, am I getting sick, etc. I am convinced this is entirely psychological and based on fear that I won’t finish. I also do the whole “what did I forget” routine and recalculating my food, and it seems the first day is spent dealing with the anxieties in my head. I marvel at the people who don’t go through this. I thought I was the only one!

    For this reason, I tend to make the first day a short day, particularly since I know it will take me hours to get to sleep, (I never sleep well the first day or the day before). I like to get into camp very early, and try to sleep right at sundown, because I know there will be a lot of tossing and turning, particularly if I am at any type of altitude. All of this anxiety seems to disappear either the 2nd or 3rd day, and at least for me, it doesn’t make a difference if I am hiking alone or with others. It just seems to be a psychological thing that I have to go through, so I try to get it over with as much as possible.

  3. Bob
    Bob October 6, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    Wow, I get those “what did I forget” feelings just going to work in the morning! Can’t imagine how freaked I’ll be on a 2-3 week hike. (-8

    Ray, I like your checklist idea, I think I’ll add one more step: I’ll put the completed checklist in my pocket and refer to it whenever I start thinking I forgot something. I figure after a day or two, I’ll finally gain enough confidence to discard the list (responsibly, of course) and enjoy the hike.

    I absolutely agree that trail psychology is important, and something that is often overlooked or at least under-appreciated. So thanks for bringing it up, Ray, and I hope that it sparks much discussion and introspection among your readers…as it already has for me!

  4. Ravi
    Ravi October 7, 2015 at 1:40 am

    Ray, I have almost exactly the same check list system that you describe and I’m always double checking my pack afraid that something is missing! Glad to know I’m not the only one…

  5. Dan
    Dan October 7, 2015 at 10:47 am

    How about video taping your packing process on your smart phone 🙂

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