“The Man That Never Cries”


Crying.. (Photo credit: Anders Ljungberg)

Warning! This blog post contains the notion of men crying!!

When I set out to write this blog I wanted to document before, during and after my attempt of a thruhike of The Appalachian Trail and I would like to fulfill this with content that is as honest and open as comfortably possible. Therefore I bring you this post that will hopefully give an idea of certain emotions that are involved before I even set foot on the trail. Before I start I would also like to credit Zach Davis aka ‘The Good Badger’ who wrote the book Appalachian Trials which deals with the psychological side to thruhiking the trail. One of the main things I have taken from this book is to get certain things sorted in your head before you start. Otherwise they could be the reason you drop off the trail. Future thru-hikers, read his book!

Bit of a back story to compliment this post, to my wife and friends I am ‘the man that never cries’. I just don’t. This is not because I have a problem with it or find it embarrassing, I feel it is perfectly healthy if you need to cry just let it out, it can do wonders for the soul…I think! In the past 15 years or more, I can’t remember, at least half my life anyway, I have only cried three times. That’s it. And it has come to my attention that this is strange. At least it is to my group of friends. They feel I must bottle stuff up and push it down somewhere, but hand on my heart this is not the case. So I’m either dead inside as some joke around and say or it’s just because I take a fairly laid back approach to life. I don’t let too much bother me and if it does bother me I change it or do something about it. I am definitely a glass half full kind of guy.

So taking this into account you can understand my absolute surprise this week, when, on my normal bus commute to work in the morning while Mumford & Sons are talking to my soul, (that’s right I blame you Mumford & Sons) I feel that sudden lump in my throat. At first I think ‘I thought I was getting rid of that sore throat’ then I realize that the lump is rising and heading to my head and I feel my tear ducts start to tingle. In the end I didn’t really cry, I definitely had a tear in my right eye ready to open the flood gates , but I think the sheer surprise to myself stopped the emotion. When I thought more about it I realised I was thinking about my wife and how leaving her next year will be….well….SHIT! There is no way around that feeling, she is my soul mate, she is who I am and to not have that part of you for six months is no easy undertaking and I do not take it lightly. As I said before that feeling I had on the bus will be a hundred times worse when I am 3000 odd miles away so this is an emotion I need to control and also use to my advantage. Cue my Good Badger inspired lists, I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because……., When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail I will…….., and If I give up on the Appalachian Trail I will……….

I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because……..

  • It has appealed to me in a major way ever since reading about it and has become something I must do.
  • I would like to challenge myself in a way that I have never done.
  • I want to experience and see different cultures and people along the trail.
  • I want to look back on my life when I am old and feel content that I have lived it.
  • Six month living in the woods seeing beautiful views and doing other crazy shit along the way is much more appealing than another six months at work!
  • You only live once.

When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail I will……

  • Feel extremely proud
  • have achieved a life time goal
  • have lots of great stories
  • have a major confidence boost
  • have raised money for charity
  • feel on top of the world
  • be very tired and achy
  • believe in myself to achieve other challenges
  • start planning my next adventure

If I give up on the Appalachian Trail I will…….

  • Cry
  • have let myself down
  • let my friends and family down
  • have put immense pressure and strain on the people who mean the world to me for no good reason
  • spent a lot of money for no good reason
  • feel like a failure to myself and my friends and family
  • not have as many great stories to tell
  • Not feel as confident to take on future adventures and challenges
  • Not have a case to support future adventures and challenges

These lists are a work in progress and I will return to add more as my thru-hike approaches. They are also as The Good Badger says, a tool which you can refer to when the trail gets tough and you must remind yourself Why you are doing this and how shit you will feel if you gave it all up.

Thanks for reading