Before I set foot on the Pacific Crest Trail, my hiking partner strongly suggested I write down why I am doing this.
He'd thru hiked the Appalachian Trail, and knew what it meant to face pain, boredom, struggle, and much financial output. "After awhile the fun wears off, then what's going to keep you going?" he asked.
So,I wrote http://trailquest.net/BRwondering.html
to answer the question for myself. While on the trail, I keep remembering the "pushing myself to my outer limits, and then, pushing further". It was my inspiration.
When I hiked the Appalachian Trail, it was extremely important to me to hike the entire thing in one year, and become a thru hiker.
People have asked,"Why be so anal? Even if you miss a chunk, you're still a thru hiker. Even if you do it over two or three years, you're still a thru hiker."
But that is not me. What are words worth if we can change them to suit our egos? A thru hiker completes the Entire Trail in one calendar year. That's why I can not say I have thru hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. I did that trail in 14 months, taking a break between seasons.
A med student can not claim to be a doctor if they haven't completed every necessary step and received their licence.
If the title Thru Hiker means so little that it can be corrupted willy nilly, then why do so many attempt to pass themselves off as one without earning it? It obviously has great meaning, and that's the reason it is so coveted.
Perhaps you are going with a friend or small group. If they leave the trail, will you? It is very good to discuss these possibilites during the planning stages. Your goals may change, their Why may not be the same as yours.
Ask yourself why you are embarking on a long hike. The inspiration will keep you on trail and become your mantra.
Money and time are just the beginning of the cost of a long trail. Your soul will be tested The trail gods see to that.
The months, which accumulated into years, I spent on the trail are among the best and most rewarding of my life. I wouldn't trade them for anything, period.