Hiking a long trail is no cakewalk, but there are definitely ways to help make sure you stick with it. How to make it through tough days on trail? Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:


Be clear on WHY you are hiking. Is it to honor a loved one? To help get over trauma? To raise money for a cause? To purely enjoy an adventure? Keep that in mind as you’re “going through it.” Perseverance is key to hiking a long trail. Also ask yourself; is the obstacle a deal breaker? Are you just in a bad mood? How will you feel if you get off trail? Are you too far out of your comfort zone or in danger? Many considerations need to be made as you make the decision to stay or go.


Know that (for the most part) whatever is uncomfortable or “sucky” is just temporary. The term “embrace the suck” is used liberally on trail for a reason – it’s not a cakewalk. Even still, it’s usually worth it to stick it out.


Sometimes when you’re tired and cranky, or when you’re hurting or in a bad mood…stopping to sit and eat a snack helps a ton.


Listen to your gut and try to make smart decisions for your comfort and experience levels. Quick story; I (Cheer) was hiking through a lightning storm on the Pacific Crest Trail near Belden. At a certain point rain gear becomes obsolete, and I was soaking wet for a couple of hours. Once it got dark, the temperature dropped and I was freezing, scared, and felt out-of-control. My gut told me to stop and set up camp to get warm and dry, even though I wanted to push on and keep hiking, In the end I went with my gut reaction and am so glad I did. It was a cold and challenging night to get through, but I’m here today because I was smart about it. Snowy views (and no frostbite) were my rewards as I emerged from my tent the next morning!


Try and laugh about it! Attitude is key and (let’s face it) sometimes ridiculous situations happen on trail. Looking back, most of the tough days that happened are pretty hilarious (now that it’s over).


Consider commiserating with others. I hiked with a couple of trail family members for most of the journey. Luckily we were all on the same page and communicated well. It really helped to swap ideas, complaints, and laughs as we hiked on through obstacles.

Happy hiking!

Cheer, PCT Class of 2019

Have any tips of your own? Share in the comments!