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  1. #1
    Llama Punch VictoriaM's Avatar
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    Default PFTHD - Post-failed thru hike depression...anyone else?

    I've been back for a few days now after injuring my feet badly enough to have to get off the trail. Since then, I've been sitting around the house in a funk. This was my one chance at a thru - for various reasons, there won't be another chance for me. Before you all start getting cheery and begin the "the trail will still be there" talk, please keep this in mind. There will not be another chance for me. Ever.

    Has anyone else here gone through this? How long did it take you to snap out of it? I've offered to resupply and slack all my friends when they get up this way, but now I'm wondering if seeing them again so far along in their hikes will only make this worse (not that that will stop me, I still want to help them).

    Anyway, it sucks to be me right now. I wish I had walked off the injury.

  2. #2
    ...Or is it Hiker Trash? Almost There's Avatar
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    Walking off the injury, doesn't work depending on the injury, you will only make it worse. Although never having thru-hiked I have had to cut long section hikes short, and it does suck when you put time you saved up away, and you end your hike a little into the time you have.

    What did the doctor say about how long you have to take off to let your feet heal? What I am saying is, why couldn't you start again a little further up the trail? It may not be a complete thru, but who cares, you are doing this because you love being out there, and if you have the time right now, why not get out there and do what you "can" do.

    What you're feeling is completely normal, but maybe a revised plan can help break you out of your funk. If you can get out there again, try hiking in trail runners(ended my foot problems) and don't go barefoot again.

    I don't know your situation and so have no idea why you can "never" try it again, I have to wait till retirement, but I will definitely be out there when I am around 60.

    Dreams like life are never perfect, but maybe you can still live part of your dream.

    I hope you can work this out to an acceptable or happy resolution for you!
    Walking Dead Bear
    Formerly the Hiker Known as Almost There

  3. #3
    Registered User Topcat's Avatar
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    Since you already had the time budgeted and the prep done, why dont you do some longer sections this year when you feel better. Pick out the areas that you were particularly looking forward to and do them without all the miles in between.

  4. #4

    Default Thru Hike Not Everything

    Hello Victoria - very sorry to hear about your foot and the change in your hike plans as a result. On the up-side (if i understand you correctly), you are not seriously injured and unable to hike at all. I'm no doctor, but maybe the best medicine to cure your canceled hike ills, is to just begin doing what you are able to do. Life is a series of many twists and turns in the trail but as the saying goes...'its not about the destination its the journey', and regardless of your thru hike status, your journey continues. Revise your plans live/hike to your fullest...Katahdin comes in many forms! God bless.

  5. #5

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    I can't imagine, but who knows it could happen to me this year. But then again, I wouldn't cash in it so soon. I've only had one injury to get me off trail but returned ASAP. If you've allowed 6 months, take whatever to get better and try again.

    Of course, if you have better things to do....

  6. #6

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    The season is still young and there is still time to fix the footies and hike.

    at only 26 years old I would not say "never" just yet....you may have to wait a long time but if you really want it the trail will always be waiting for you.

    let your foot heal and start planning your next trip. Perhaps sectioning might be worth a consideration. Its far better to hike half the trail then none at all...

  7. #7
    Llama Punch VictoriaM's Avatar
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    My husband doesn't want me to go back out, so it's over for me. I can't go back and finish now.

    My injury won't end hiking forever, but it will probably be a few more weeks at least. I still can't comfortably walk around my own house. I'll definitely do some hiking when I'm healed, but sectioning doesn't appeal to me - the dream for me has always been doing a thru, so sectioning would seem pointless for me.

    Oh, and at 26 I would say "never". Yes, the trail will still be around, but I won't be able to take six months again. Even if my situation allowed it at some point, my husband, future kids, and physical condition wouldn't. I'm a down to earth kind of girl, so I'm being realistic about this.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by VictoriaM View Post
    Anyway, it sucks to be me right now. I wish I had walked off the injury.
    What's the big deal about thru-hiking versus section hiking? By the third night in the woods, it's all the same -- you're dirty, smelly, hungry, sore, and happy. It's all good.

    I still berate myself for giving up a thru hike in 1990. OTOH, I've enjoyed the heck out of most (if not all) of the section hikes I've done since then, and sometime very soon that patchwork quilt will be done, and I'll be able to say, I've walked from Georgia to Maine, on the A.T. Big whoop!

    There's no shame, and no hurry. Heal up and walk what you can, when you can. Thru-hiking is over-rated. Even LW agrees.

  9. #9
    knick knack patty whack
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    that sounds pretty sour that your husband has decided you can't go back out and enjoy what's left of your summer off once your foot has healed. it's possible that something like that is something you may end up holding against him in your mind in the future, as it seems to mean a great deal to you. i'd personally say that if you were to get back on the trail where you left off anytime in april you'd have plenty of time to do the trip. i started at springer on may 22 and had plenty of time. took a week off in vermont, finished oct 2.

  10. #10
    Registered User Topcat's Avatar
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    In 1985 i had a chance to spend a year in Paraguay. My wife said if i did, she wouldnt be here when i came back so i didnt. 22 years later (and many life experiences) i still resent that and wish i had just gone.

  11. #11
    Registered User Bravo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VictoriaM View Post
    My husband doesn't want me to go back out, so it's over for me. I can't go back and finish now.
    Must suck living your life for someone else. I guess that's what some folks call love. Hmmm.

  12. #12
    Registered User RockStar's Avatar
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    Victoria...I got off the trail after reaching Bly Gap last year b/c of my back. I got really depressed but, planned to take a train up to Harpers ferry and atempt a flip-flop. I went against Dr.s orders for Physical Therapy and just tried muscle relazers to stop SEVERE muscle spasms that kept me up at night...I had to come home there too. I got the worst depression of my life watching ppl I hiked with finish. It didn't lift until I decided to go back and started to buy gear/plan. So about 9-11 months of feeling sorry for myself led to 30 unwanted unneeded lbs. and a lot of time I could have used to plan wasted. Never say never. Anything could happen.

    I planned for over 6 years before I actualy tried and during those 6 years...I thought I would NEVER be able to go do it...it was just a dream. Then life changed for the better and I had the chance. I DONT know your situation but, I know I have someone that loves me who HATES hiking and HATES that I like it not to mention the thought of being without me for 6 months. However, they'd rather me go hiking again and stay 6 months to finish than to keep talking about gear,mileage,food, etc etc ALL THE TIME! So maybe obsessing about it out loud will convince your other half to WANT to ship you to Harpers Ferry for your flip-flop. The trail starting there isn't so bad at ALL.
    Last edited by RockStar; 03-18-2007 at 13:49. Reason: spelling
    "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."
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  13. #13
    NE AT 733 of 733 miles & Long Trail End-to-End Tramper Al's Avatar
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    Default What is "failure"?

    I don't know, maybe I have a whole different way of looking at this hiking thing. Of course, I am a sectioneer and peakbagger.

    I see a lot of people, especially here at Whiteblaze, who talk about "failure" in the context of a thru hike that didn't go quite as hoped or planned. It seems to me that much of this feeling of failure originates when the hiker goes in with the assumption that anything other than hiking the ENTIRE trail end-to-end in a single season is a wholly inadequate experience. I also see a lot of questions about "why did your thru hike fail", or "how did you feel when you failed" or whatever. I think it is particularly wrong for those who did thru-hike to consider it failure for others who could not or did not do so.

    I'm all for setting a goal and striving to reach it, no question. As a sectioneer with goals, I do have more leeway and can adjust my plans at any time without getting off track. Those with peakbagging goals have much the same situation.

    I listen to all you thru hikers, though, who tell me that just being out there is the true experience. And that's my goal too - just to be out there. Anything else I "accomplish" is just icing on the cake.

    So, I have to wonder if much of the sense of "failure" stems from too narrow a definition of sucess.

    Of course this may be of no help to you at this point, Victoria, but I'm going to guess that you actually achieved and accomplished quite a lot in your trail experience, regardless.

    I'd rather set myself up to enjoy the experience, however the details actually work out.
    - Tramper Al

  14. #14
    Springer - Front Royal Lilred's Avatar
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    Sorry Victoria, but if my husband told me I couldn't fulfill a dream of a lifetime, I'd tell him where exactly to shove his selfishness and I would go. I know I don't know your situation, your marriage or either one of you, but I would NEVER let another human control my life, EVER. Been there, done that. That's why I have an ex.

    Now, about that foot, or feet. Take your finger and press down real hard on the side of your heel, just below the ankle bone, on the inside of the foot. If it hurts real bad, it's probable plantar facitis. I have it and it can cause me to hobble with pain. If it hurts when you press, go out and buy a pair of Crocs if you don't have some already. The pain and the limp will go away almost as soon as you put them on. Works for me, and has worked for several other people I work with. They bought crocs on my recommendation and they thank me all the time. I wear them all the time now and my pain is now GONE. Also, a pair of fitted orthotic insoles works like a charm for hiking. I took my boots to a doc and he fitted those insoles to my foot, in my boot. They're not cheap, $90, but they'll last a lifetime. They are the kind that you heat up first and form to your foot. You have plenty of time to heal and get back out there and finish. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.

    Mr. VictoriaM, quit trying to keep her home and help her get back out there. Maybe you're concerned for her health or maybe you're just selfish and controlling, I don't know. Either way, STOP IT and help her get back out there.

    When I'm out hiking, I continually thank God for a husband that is not a control freak and helps me fulfill my dreams.
    "It was on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America." - Daniel Boone

  15. #15
    Registered User Frolicking Dinosaurs's Avatar
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    Victoria, first, my condolences for your injury.

    I have been in your shoes. The dinosaurs were planning to thru hike before a really bad head-on collusion in August, 2004, left the female dino (me) with a some serious injuries that make thru-hiking impossible. We have both cried many tears and had a lot of trouble wrapping-our-heads-and-hearts-around-reality. I can no longer hike fast enough nor carry enough weight for a thru-hike.

    It has taken several years for us to adjust and has been hard on our marriage. We finally came to realize that we had three options - the male dino could do a thru without me, we could attempt to section hike the whole thing (and the male dino could do any parts I simply couldn't alone) or we could abandon the idea. Abandoning the idea was not an option for me. The male dino doesn't want to thru without me so we slowly came to terms with being section hikers.

    At first, I felt like you "sectioning doesn't appeal to me - the dream for me has always been doing a thru, so sectioning would seem pointless for me." However, I slowly came to recognize that I have to deal with life on life's terms. My leg is permanently injured -- and I was told it would not get any better. The best I could hope for was to strengthen the less badly injured muscles to take over the work of those that were nearly totally paralyzed. I may or may not be able to hike all parts of the AT, but I can certainly hike sections of it.

    I've spent much of the last 2.5 years doing physical therapy on my leg and changing our gear to fit the new constraints of our hike. I've examine many sleeping systems and found two - one ground and one hammock - that work for my leg. The male dino switched to an external frame pack so he can carry more of our gear. I switched to a smaller pack and started buying ultralight and super-ultralight gear. I have made a lot of our new gear so it could be customized for our unique needs - things like a double quilt with more insulation on my side (I'm a cold sleeper and he is a warm sleeper). The male dino has had to learn to trust that those flimsy little sil-nylon tents and tarps really work and are durable. He is even coming around to the idea that a hammock might be OK.

    Victoria, I'm not going to tell you any of this was easy or painless. Sometimes life changes your dreams. I hope you and your husband can come to some sort of a compromise that you both can live with regarding what you do with the rest of your time off. I've had some things in my life I didn't do because of spouses and I regret them -- the spouses are gone, but the dreams live on. I hope to live long enough to make my dreams (or as much of them as I still can) a reality. Today I appreciate that the joy is in the journey, not in the achievement.
    Last edited by Frolicking Dinosaurs; 03-18-2007 at 14:12.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by VictoriaM View Post
    My husband doesn't want me to go back out, so it's over for me. I can't go back and finish now.

    My injury won't end hiking forever, but it will probably be a few more weeks at least. I still can't comfortably walk around my own house. I'll definitely do some hiking when I'm healed, but sectioning doesn't appeal to me - the dream for me has always been doing a thru, so sectioning would seem pointless for me.

    Oh, and at 26 I would say "never". Yes, the trail will still be around, but I won't be able to take six months again. Even if my situation allowed it at some point, my husband, future kids, and physical condition wouldn't. I'm a down to earth kind of girl, so I'm being realistic about this.
    Well, I'm with you on the "don't tell me I'll do it again." Yes, it sucks. I know how it feels. You're not alone. There are a lot of us who didn't make it and may not.

    There are some things you can do: There are other long trails with much of the same glory in different ways that aren't the same length but have scenery, friendship and panache to them, with lengths that you can still probably do year. Come out and do the John Muir Trail here in California...in a month or thereabouts you can bag several "teeners", on trails that will not endanger your leg. One of them is Mt Whitney, a "one day" up-and-down that's the highest mountain in the lower 48. When you finish the JMT, you're in an elite crowd, and I plan to do Whitney next year. If you have your gear ready, all you need is a ticket (Sacramento or San Fran or Reno).

    I'm sorry for what happened. It stinks, and, to use a phrase that I got to know well once upon a time, "Life stinks, then it gets nasty." So you're in good company (other than mine, but the others I know that didn't make it are pretty cool), and think of what you can do instead.

    The Weasel
    "Thank God! there is always a Land of Beyond, For us who are true to the trail..." --- Robert Service

  17. #17
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    (((VictoriaM)))... I surely hope you will get some good, sympathetic yet constructive responses here on this board. I really feel so sorry for you right now, it must be so awful to feel as you do currently.

    I have children that are almost as old as you are, so please forgive me if I'm going to sound overly maternal... it's sad to see that life can be so full of disappointments. This is probably not the first major difficulty you've had, nor (sigh) is it likely to be the last. Many - in fact I'd venture to say, most if not all of us - on this board who are past our 20's have had our fair share of things that didn't work out as we'd hoped and planned. We're living with the consequences of poor choices, uninformed decision-making, or just plain bad luck. On some of those things, life eventually gives you a do-over, but on some of them, you don't and one way or the other have to make your peace with it. Only time will tell whether you'll get another shot at your thru-hike dream, or whether you'll eventually find a way "around" your hurt and disappointment without actually completing that particular thing.

    Before I had my kids, I read and heard so much about how wonderful a great birth experience can be. It would be life-changing, affirming, do all sorts of great things for me forever, I would never forget it. Well, short of having my children (or me!) die at birth, all four of my birth experiences were about as awful as you can imagine. No gory details, but just, something that I'd believed would be so wonderful, just wasn't, not in any way. And, of course, there were NO do-overs on that one. It was what it was, and always will be. But I eventually was able to deal with my feelings about it, by realizing, partly, that my expectations were faulty and that having and loving and enjoying my children over the course of their lives was the truly important aspect of being a mom, not having some "mountaintop" experience when they were born. All things being equal, I wish the births had gone better, but I'm now okay with the fact that they didn't.

    Let yourself hurt and grieve and start to heal now. Be good to yourself - this doesn't necessarily mean holing up with an unlimited supply of Ring-Dings and romance books, but find other things to nourish your spirit. Just spend some simple time outdoors with no performance expectations. Have fun with the friends whose company you might have missed during your thru. Do some things with your husband that you both enjoy. Take the opportunity of this window in your life to do something else creative and interesting. Try to connect with whatever higher power you believe in, to start getting some insight on why this happened. And... God bless you and keep you.

    Hugs,

    Jane in CT

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lilred View Post
    Sorry Victoria, but if my husband told me I couldn't fulfill a dream of a lifetime, I'd tell him where exactly to shove his selfishness and I would go. I know I don't know your situation, your marriage or either one of you, but I would NEVER let another human control my life, EVER. Been there, done that. That's why I have an ex.

    ***
    Mr. VictoriaM, quit trying to keep her home and help her get back out there. Maybe you're concerned for her health or maybe you're just selfish and controlling, I don't know. Either way, STOP IT and help her get back out there.

    When I'm out hiking, I continually thank God for a husband that is not a control freak and helps me fulfill my dreams.
    Good friend, we do not know others' marriages well enough here, I think, to say these things. Vic will do as is best for her life, and I'm sure you respect that as much as the rest of us do.

    The Weasel
    "Thank God! there is always a Land of Beyond, For us who are true to the trail..." --- Robert Service

  19. #19

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    Victoria,

    I hiked the trail in 2005 starting on my 60 birthday. I went alone. I am sure my husband would not have wanted me to leave for 6 months when we first got married but then I wouldn't have wanted that either. At 60 he missed me but didn't even think about saying don't go, he knew better.
    As others have said to you, life has many twists and turns and your time will come. I also would say as others have, heal and get back on the trail. I had tendinitis on the top of my foot and had to take a week off in Damascus. I had sore feet just behind the toes, almost all of the hike until maybe New England, probably by then they were just numb, in fact a year and a half later they still are not the same as they were, probably never will be. I found that when my feet really hurt if I took a 2 or 3 min break it made all the difference in the world. Get your husband interested in backpacking and do small family trips, the time will come for another long hike, maybe after the kids are grown as mine was. Take care.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by VictoriaM View Post
    My husband doesn't want me to go back out, so it's over for me.
    Wow, I was sure slavery was abolished. I'm sure you could get a new husband as female hikers are rare and much valued.

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