Morale is a fragile thing on the trail, particularly if the pack is a bit heavier than you expected, there are a few more ascents than you had really planned for, or you are carrying ten or eleven days of food on your back as you climb out of Muir Trail Ranch. It’s worth any effort to keep your mind right; don’t let a little discomfort mess with your head.
Here’s a self-test I like to use when I’m on the trail. I look up, find an airliner (there ALWAYS seems to be an airliner above you, somewhere, especially at night), and imagine someone sitting in first class with a stiff drink in his or her hand. Now, ask yourself this: would you trade places?
Happily, I can report that nine times out of ten my answer is, “No way!”
If you aren’t so sure, here are a few things to consider:
~ Try to reconnect with what drove you to take on the trail in the first place. Remember, as best you can, why you worked as hard as you did to get on the trail. Are you making sure that you are taking the time to enjoy what motivated you in the first place?
~ Have you been eating and drinking sufficiently? Appetites often disappear during a hike, particularly at the beginning if you are not acclimatized. Eating too few calories makes every step difficult. Dehydration can also slow you down, and can even be deadly.
~ Take a long break or stop early for the day. Some extra rest might make all the difference.
~ Fix a special meal. I always make sure I pack something extra delicious so I can splurge. I usually eat that meal the night before I summit, but it is always there in case I need a morale boost on the way.
Try some of these and see if you can’t re-kindle some enthusiasm. Then, recommit to finishing. If you do, you will have an experience far more memorable than any first class flight.
Good hiking, Ray