What it Felt Like to Finish

Standing on Springer Mountain at the Southern Terminus of the AT. I finally finished after 297 days (258 days for the SYTC).

"How did it feel when you finished?" That question has been asked by seemingly everyone. Most people didn't seem to like my answer. Specifically, they didn't like these two statements:

"I consider my hike a failure."

"I felt no emotion when I finished."

Those are honest answers, but elicit the following responses (or something similar), which I have heard many times throughout my life:

"You're being too hard on yourself."

"You need to give yourself a break."

I acknowledge that I am harder on myself than most people. But, I'm hoping that people will read this and understand what I mean when I say I failed.

For 2018, I had four goals:

  1. Explore Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments

  2. Complete the Calendar Year Triple Crown

  3. Hike at least 8,000 miles

  4. Raise at least $8,000 for Roundup River Ranch

The only goal I met was exploring Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments.

One of my more lighthearted moments in Southern Utah.

Instead of completing the Calendar Year Triple Crown, I completed a Single Year Triple Crown. That means that instead of hiking the PCT, CDT, and AT in 2018, I hiked the PCT, CDT, and from Mt. Katahdin (Northern Terminus of the AT) to Springer Mt. (Southern Terminus of the AT) with continuous steps in under a year duration. I set a standard for what it means to hike each of the three trails and I failed to meet the standard on the AT because my body fell apart.

Standing at Crazy Cook Monument (Southern Terminus of the CDT). I wasn't done, but my hiking shirt was.

Also, I fell short of my 8,000 mile goal hiking a best estimate of 7,871 miles. Considering that I finished on January 13, 2019, I was probably closer to 7,600 miles for 2018.

At the Northern Terminus of the PCT. I was exhausted and angry when I made it here.

Raising money for Roundup River Ranch did not go nearly as well as I wanted raising about $1,500 with most of that coming from the owners of the company I work for.

J donated most of the money I raised for Roundup River Ranch. She also came to hike with me in Bears Ears National Monument, took a chance on employing me, and supports me in every way I let her. Seriously, I think I made her mad by not asking for help.

All of that means that I objectively failed at what I set out to accomplish. However, I still accomplished more than anything else I have ever attempted in my life ... even things I was successful in. I also objectively accomplished more than anyone who hiked just the PCT, or the CDT, or the AT. Last, one of my more meaningful but less tangible goals was to push myself closer to reaching my potential than I ever had before and I accomplished that.

I lost a lot of weight on the trail which I had to overcome.

In other words, I don't beat myself up over not accomplishing what I set out to accomplish. I don't even think about it much other than to answer the question of how I feel now that it's over or how I felt when I finished.

How did it feel to finish? Standing on Springer Mountain, I didn't experience any major emotion. My dad hiked the last couple miles with me, so I may have stunted my emotional reaction because of that, but I don't think that's what happened. I believe I visualized finishing so many times that all my emotions were worked out before I got there. Also, when I finished, I was ready to move on to something new and something better. In fact, the only reason I wanted to stop hiking was to let my broken down body recover so I could move on.

I consider this my best picture from the trail, taken at Glacier National Park. Can I top this?

Failure means I still feel I have more to prove. Some things went wrong. Some of them I couldn't control, but I think there were a few minor things I could have done just a little better and maybe prevented some of my mishaps. They may have enabled me to achieve success. Because I still have more to prove (to myself), I think I will try to do something just as ambitious or more so and work to correct the few things I could have done better. That excites me!

The biggest thing I feel now that it's over is excitement for the future. I happen to have ideas. I happen to have a great crew of people who support me living the hiker trash lifestyle. Combined with something to prove and a recent failure that will motivate me, I'm excited about my future. I failed ... and that's not a bad thing. At the end, I felt no emotion ... and that just made me ready to move on. Next!!

#CYTC #CalendarYearTripleCrown #SYTC #SingleYearTripleCrown #PacificCrestTrail #PCT #ContinentalDivideTrail #CDT #AppalachianTrail #AT #Pathfinder #LongDistanceHiking #MtKatahdin #SpringerMt #CrazyCookMonument #BearsEarsNationalMonument #GrandStaircaseEscalanteNationalMonument #GlacierNationalPark #JeanetteHackney #RoundupRiverRanch