When it comes to hiking long-distance trails, there are 2 main challenges to overcome, the physical and the mental.
When a trail is young, the challenge is more mental. In this stage of an adventure, the more wild the trail is, the more mentally challenging it can be.
On an older and more established trail however, the mental challenges are much less and it becomes more of just a physical endeavor.
In other words, on a trail such as the PCT you have the physical challenge, of course, but with so many town guides, apps, signs, water caches, and other people out there to provide a sense of certainty - the mental challenge has been all but eliminated.
What's my point here?
Developed trails can be completed without the mental skills or anxieties that are needed or experienced on a younger or lesser developed trail.
This is why completing both physical AND mental challenges before showing up to a multi-month hike is key; and why I believe, harder long-distance trails can be completed without having done any of the Triple Crown trails first.
You see, I've seen greenhorns go black diamond on their first run and excel and I've also seen triple crowners go black diamond for the first time and turn into a disaster.
Because it's not about how many miles you've done, it's about how much trail skill you have.
Before you show up, know that you can handle a 20-mile + waterless (or whatever the biggest is that your adventure requires), know that your navigation abilities are on point for when there's no signs or footprints to follow, and have your game dialed as far as sustaining your health and energy.
Once you have the skills and experience to face both the physical AND mental aspects of the journey, you'll be ready to handle any trail - regardless of it's difficulty rating.
Mental aspects of the journey include.
Gaining knowledge of what's ahead.
Managing food and water.
Physical aspects of the journey include.
Somedays I want a vacation trail but on others I want to test my skills.
#wholefoodhiker #hikinghowto #trailgrades #whyihike #vacationtrails #adventuretrails #survivalmissions