My husband and I talk about hiking the Appalachian trail all the time. It looks so exciting from the outside and the feeling of accomplishment and self satisfaction must be absolutely incredible. But it never dawned on me to consider how the impact of 4-6 inseparable months, fighting environment and physical challenges, would have on our marriage.
In an article written for Bride Magazine, Liz Susong talks about her experience thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with her husband. The trail goes from Mexico to Canada and spans over 2,650 miles of mountains, valleys and rivers. This was a dream of Liz’s husband and like every supporting wife, she eagerly adopted the challenge and went along. Well, the eagerly part isn’t quite true, but she didn’t want to miss out on a life changing experience with her husband. And, although she was not excited about living off the grid for any period of time, she loved him enough to share in his dream.
What she got from this adventure was a closer connection with her husband and an unspoken understanding of each other and trust. The road to this was hard and as Liz describes in her own words, “Every day out here pretty much goes like this: wake up, hike uphill several thousand feet, lose all feeling in your legs as you cross a river barefoot, risk your life crossing a river over some sh*** log, summit a pass, risk you life trying to climb down the other side, which is inevitably covered with varying degrees of slush snow, stumble across loose rocks, find a stunning lake and cry at its beauty, repeat”. Sounds like a blast, huh?!
The hike wasn’t the only challenge and the couple found the preparations for a year with no income stressful on their young marriage. There was pressure to save every penny and anxiety over leaving a beloved job for six months. But, they made it and spent over three months together finding themselves and finding each other. Liz reflects that what amazed her about life on the trail is how little and how much happens simultaneously. Silence consumed hours of each day and the biggest events of each day was meals, bathroom breaks and choosing a spot to camp. But the lack of stimulation and entertainment brought with it a clearing of the mind, “space to sort through head trash, navigate hard relationships discussions that had been tabled for too long, and to just be together, looking out on a picturesque landscape after a long day, eating tasteless food and feeling content.”
Throughout her article, there is not a hint of regret, despite her detailed account of the physical treachery required to complete a 2,000+ mile hike. Liz did not complete the full trail, but her husband did, and I am sure she would agree that her time out there with him, was worth every painful step.
Read the original article here