If you have hiked a long trail before you’ve seen it. The one or two thousand miles has taken it’s toll on the hiker’s body and many of us start looking like the walking dead. Our legs are in over drive and our bodies naturally take protein from the muscles that we have hardly used to feed our legs causing what I like to call “The Wither”. Arms, shoulders, chest, and abs all cannibalized in a great sacrifice to our legs. It leaves our upper body emaciated like a neglected prisoner. I learned this all too well on my Thru Hike of the Appalachian trail.
It took me 8 months to regain much of the muscles I lost on the AT. I’ll admit because of my body type putting on muscle and weight in general has never been an easy task for me so maybe others have had less difficulty post trail than myself. I made a pact with myself that on the PCT I would do my best to fend off the wither. When I got to camp at night I would do sit ups, push ups, planks, and the occasional bicep curls or pull ups when there was the availability to do so. Hiker’s often scoffed at it, saying i was a glutton for punishment or possibly just trying to be a show off. For most hiking 20 miles a day was enough of a work out. I knew though from my past experiences 2 years prior that if “I didn’t use it, I would lose it.” By using my abs, arms, shoulders, and chest every day for a small amount of time it would keep my body from cannibalizing it so I kept up with it till I hit the Sierra the Summer of 2017. The snow and river crossings took their toll on me. Accompanied by a lack of food for the stretch from Bishop to Mammoth I lost 16 lbs. The wither was back dispite my best efforts in the desert. When I made it to Mammoth I was beaten down. I lost 16lbs in like 125 miles. I took 3 zero days in town to eat and recover before heading back on trail to Yosemite and then spent more time recharging in Halfdome Village.
When I left Yosemite and got back on the PCT I had my strength back. Mile crushing was again no problem but the wither had taken it’s to on my upper body and rest and food did not fix that. I started off slowly and decided to easy myself back into my workouts. By Sierra City I was feeling real good and started doing 5 push ups with my pack on every time I took off my pack and every time I put it back on. As I continued my hike I added pushups till it was 15 each time. I continued and by the time I reached Canada I felt and looked best I had in years, possibly ever.
In the months following the PCT my level of fitness has come in waves based on my lust for ice cream, post trail depression, desire to rock climb, and my thru hike of the Wonderland trail. Months away from my planned departure for my NoBo thru hike of the CDT I am laying on my Z lite trying to convince myself to do even 50 push-ups and 20 pull-ups as suggested by a friend. I recently went to my primary care provider for a pre thru hike check up and my vitals are not the best nor the worst.
I issue a personal challenge to myself in this blog. “Hey Dosu, stop being a lazy piece of shit. Get off your ass, stop watching YouTube, and do a little exercise. Keep up with your pushups on the CDT, crush some freaking miles, and finish the CDT looking and feeling good.”
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