There are hundreds of reasons to get outside and spend some time on the trails; the endorphins, the exercise, the time spent with friends (to name just a few of my favorites). But as I’ve continued to grow in my capabilities as an outdoors(wo)man in my home province of British Columbia, I’ve found another motivating factor sneak its way in - accomplishment.
Peak after peak, trail after trail, ticking off each item on my mental checklist can provide a certain sense of indulgence. What can I say? I’m a sucker for reaching the end, taking a deep breath of fresh air, and knowing that I did it.
But what happens when we don’t make it to the top of that mountain, or to the end of that trail? This past April, a few friends and I attempted the Juan de Fuca trail on Vancouver Island, BC over the Easter Long weekend. We planned meticulously. We organized rides to trail heads, meals and tents, ferries from Vancouver to the island, and just about every detail in between. With the rain seemingly easing up, we started at noon on the Friday and tackled the first 21km of the 47km marine trail (and toughest section at that), slogging through mud, trudging through rain, and reaching our campsite much too late and much too wet (prompting a stay in the shelter for safety reasons).
The next day we continued 9km more to the well-known Sombrio Beach for lunch, before dreadingly continuing on. 30 km in at this point, the only motivating factor was, “We have to finish it. We’re only 17km away from the end”. Approximately 1km back onto the trail, after slipping along most of it, someone finally said, “This sucks.” And they were right. So after much deliberation, we decided to end our trip early.
There were copious reasons as to why we decided to quit the Juan de Fuca after only completing 31km. We were tired, we were soaked to the bone, it rained way more than forecasted, all of our belongings were soaked through, I had so many blisters I could barely walk, we had done too much the first day, it was our first big trip of the year - but none of that matters. The point is, we were no longer having fun. However, I struggled immensely with the decision to quit. Would people question my abilities as a hiker? What about all the other people who have completed it before me? I know I’ve completed longer trips before! But what I was forgetting is that at the end of the day, while hiking can have an element of challenge to it, it ultimately should be fun. It should be enjoyable. And it that point in the trip, it most definitely was not.
Leaving the Juan de Fuca when we did as helped change my mindset when it comes to my time on the trails. Rather than stress and worry about what others will think, I remind myself that I am out there for me, and me alone (and for other Mountain Chicks when out on the trail together!)
Don’t get me wrong here! I’m not saying you should stop bagging peaks by any means. All I’m suggesting is, give yourself some compassion when sometimes, things just happen to go wrong. No matter the distance, we are not defined by the hiccups that may hinder us from reaching our accomplishments. It isn’t a failure, it’s just an opportunity to try it again.
This blog was written by Steph Wood, Mountain Chicks Canada Ambassador. thanks for reading! Don't forget to get your Mtn Chicks gear down below!
Dani is the Founder of Mountain Chicks and the primary author of the Mtn Chicks Blog. Here you'll find outdoor tips, travel experiences, gear reviews and more.