The 5 Steps of Grieving A Cancelled Thru-Hike

I’ve had to cancel my PCT thru-hike for 2 years in a row now. Thanks Covid!

Back in 2019, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I started researching the trail and what gear I would need. Should I send resupply boxes? Crampons or Microspikes?

I went through the entire process, got my permit and was ready to go for my PCT 2020 thru-hike.

Then Covid-19 hit and like many others I had to cancel my thru-hike.

2021 though, surely by then this will all be sorted.

Alas, for me, it wasn’t. I’m not based in the US so that obviously adds an extra layer of complexity for me so had to cancel again.

I’m not alone in this. Thousands of prospective thru-hikers have had to cancel or postpone their hikes over the past two years.

However, I was surprised by how much of a toll it actually took on me. I figured I’d be able to cancel on move on with new plans but it’s really only now that I’ve come to accept it.

Like many others I’ve gone through the 5 stages of grief but for my thru-hike!

Stage 1 : Denial “The numbers will go down before my hike”

Before cancelling your thru-hike you likely went through a stage of utter denial.

Sure, Covid is a problem but by the time I need to thru-hike the numbers will down, the vaccine will be rolled out.

Slowly though reality hits home.

Stage 2 : Anger “Why Me!”

The numbers didn’t go down, the lockdowns didn’t end, the flights didn’t resume and the vaccine hasn’t been rolled out.

During this stage you’re pissed at the world, at the universe.

Why did Covid have to happen when I was planning my hike?

I don’t deserve this!

Ah the soothing embrace of self-pity.

Stage 3 : Bargaining “Maybe I can do a section hike”

Eventually, you get beyond anger, you get proactive.

Sadly, there is nothing to do, nothing to be proactive about, at least in terms of hiking.

Echos of denial come back too, you think maybe in a few more months maybe you’ll be able to do a section hike or small hike somewhere else.

Stage 4 : Depression “I’ll never walk again”

Then nothing change again. This dashing of even your compromised dreams of a hike cast you in to a deep depression.

For me, this happened for me in January & February in 2021. I thought I could get out on the PCT in 2021 but alas the reality hit home.

For 2 months I became sedentary, I feel like I watched the entirety of the internet. My productivity dropped to zero.

Stage 5 : Acceptance “This Sh*t will end at some point”

Eventually though, this pall passess too.

Nothing changes but you.

I still hope to thru-hike at some point but for now I live my normal life with the background humming that at some point this sh*t will end.