Why am I hiking the John Muir Trail solo?

Good evening explorers! I’ve had a milder week this week, at least physically, but I’ve been purchasing the last of my gear (snagged a Bearikade Expedition, woot!), continued working on my itinerary, and started looking at food preparation. The pressure is on, but worrying about my plan is better than worrying about work (still got the job, though)!

Taking a suggestion from the PCT association, I decided to start mentally preparing for my solo John Muir Trail thru-hike (starting June 23rd Southbound from Happy Isles) by answering some questions suggested on their blog. The first step is figuring out my why, along with the personal consequences of succeeding in and failing to complete the journey. See below for my answers to their questions:

1. I am thru-hiking the John Muir Trail solo because I feel it necessary to go on a journey of self-discovery; away from the majority of societal influences, to push myself to new heights, while appreciating the beauty of nature. The only weapons against me will be my interpretation of/reaction to natural forces and my mind.

I’m stagnant in my career, and nature continually calls my name. The excitement that comes from preparation. The small successes along the way. The huge breaches into unknown territory of my capabilities as a human being. These fires have kindled a larger fire pushing me toward a career where I can be outdoors exploring most of the time. Maybe this hike will give me the inspiration. Maybe I’ll meet someone and a new opportunity in my career will come up. Who knows?

I’d also love to find a romantic partner on the trail, though this sounds crazy for me to want. I know I must be OK with myself first, and I’m slowly getting there. But, how cool would it be to find someone to spend the rest of my life with who enjoys exploring as much as I do? A man can dream 🙂

The headstone of all of this is personal achievement. I graduated high school, graduated college, maintained a job, but gradually, all of this became less and less fulfilling. Then, I lost myself in a relationship, crashed and burned, and was brought back to life by my friends and family. During that transitionary phase, I pushed myself further into hiking and exploring, realizing that I like achieving. I like feeling fulfilled and I enjoy the beauty of nature.

Thus, I am hiking the John Muir Trail for self-fulfillment and self-exploration

2. When I successfully thru-hike the John Muir Trail, I will have a greater sense of self and much more experience in the outdoors. I will have successfully planned and executed a month-long expedition and I will have made many connections, however brief, with people all along the trail. Who knows, I may hate the trail and hate the experience, but at least I’ll know what I don’t want in life, right?

I have an intuitive feeling that this will be an enjoyable journey that will propel me further into outdoor exploration. There will be trials and tribulations, but I’ll be more confident in how my body moves. Things that I consider risky now, won’t be as intimidating in a few months.

The final thing, is that I’ll have a wealth of rich stories to tell. Stories that I can tell to friends, family, and the world. Egocentric? Somewhat. But maybe it’ll be an inspiration to someone. In all reality I’ll have something that I can and should take pride in! If I can say anything to you readers, find something you want to achieve that scares you. Then train, go out there, and handle it! Push yourself!

3. If I give up on the John Muir Trail, I will think that I’m a failure for a time. I’ll feel like the invested money was a waste. I’ll feel like all the time and effort was a waste. And, I’ll feel like I’m not cut out for backcountry exploration. I don’t like thinking about how I will feel if I fail, but it’s a valid question. A question that makes me want to prepare even harder. A question that hits me within. Hopefully, if I do fail, I’ll pick myself up and continue training for the next opportunity after mourning for a bit.

Thank you guys for reading! If you’re planning on thru-hiking a big trail, consider answering these same questions for yourself! Let me know of your plans, let the world know! You’re embarking on a great journey that many don’t have the opportunity to do or aren’t willing to do. Later this week, I’ll be reviewing another insane hot sauce for your enjoyment. Remember, take a hike and spice up your life!

-Doug

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10 Comments

  1. Gaddy
    April 14, 2016
    Reply

    Sounds like it will be a blast. Too bad you can’t post along the way.

    • Doug Busack
      May 13, 2016
      Reply

      Matt, thank you so much! Your kind words pushed me into a decision today between an offer my boss made me to stay another year, or go off and adventure. You’ve had a great impact on my journey so far, between Zion, nominating me for an award, and showing your support! Happy hiking 🙂

  2. May 16, 2016
    Reply

    I’m glad I’ve been able to help. Makes me fee like my blog is worthwhile already.

  3. Paul Gadebusch
    May 18, 2016
    Reply

    You may think your going solo but it won’t take long to meet up with someone or something to connect with. I hope you will be able to send something out during the trip, at least occasionally, so I can feel part of it.. .. oh yeah, and know your ok.

  4. Malinda
    June 18, 2016
    Reply

    Just stumbled across your Instagram (you know how it goes) and saw your gear post about getting ready for the JMT! I am actually currently training to do a week of it as well! I’ll be doing 75 miles and ending around mile 800 of the PCT at the suspension bridge near wood cross, Ibelieve it’s called? Anyway, if you run into me say hi ☺ I’ll be traveling from June 23-august 3. Safe travels to you, and I hope you find what you’re looking for out there!

    • Doug Busack
      June 18, 2016
      Reply

      Malinda! Thanks for reaching out! I’d be stoked to cross paths! I’ll be at Glen pass, heading south, starting July 13th. Then I’ll be exiting Whitney portal July 19th. Do you have an itinerary?

      • Malinda
        June 18, 2016
        Reply

        Ah man, unfortunately I’m not even starting my journey until the 23rd of July! Looks like we will just miss each other. Still though, have an amazing trip!!

        • Malinda
          June 18, 2016
          Reply

          I made a typo in the first comment, trip for me is July 23-august 3. Bummer!

        • Doug Busack
          June 18, 2016
          Reply

          Bummer! I hope you’re trip is amazing as well! I look forward to following your journey!

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