8 Ways Thru-Hiking Weirdly Prepares You for Sheltering in Place During a Global Pandemic

Our Blog
Korrin Bishop | Apr 13, 2020

Thru-hiking prepares you for a lot in life. Indeed, it’s a life-changing experience for many. It can heighten your minimalist mindset, show you what your body is truly capable of, and teach you to find peace even when it’s raining. Thru-hiking can be a test of pushing through loneliness after miles on the trail without another soul in sight. It is a feat of endurance, knowing with each step you’re getting closer to your goal.

You know, in a weird way, thru-hiking kind of prepares you for the sheltering in place that we as a people are now experiencing across the globe. In fact, here are 8 ways that embracing a thru-hiker mindset can help you get through this global pandemic’s quarantine.

1. No TP? No Problem.

COVID-19 has made us acutely aware of how treasured toilet paper is by many people. You may have gone to the store recently looking to grab your own six-pack of the good stuff and noticed the shelves already picked bare.

Luckily, thru-hiking helps us learn which plants and other natural materials make acceptable toilet paper substitutes. It also reminds us to ration the toilet paper that we have. 

For the ladies, pee rags are an excellent way to keep dry down there while using significantly less toilet paper. While you may have tried this on the trail before, we recommend giving it a go at home now! You can use old rags, bandanas, or other fabrics around the house for a quick dab and then toss it into the laundry hamper.

2. Peanut Butter, Corn Nuts, and Oatmeal for Dinner? Awesome!

That enormous pizza at the end of a thru-hike is the best pizza you’ve ever eaten because you’ve gotten so used to eating strange combinations of food that you normally wouldn’t pair together. 

While sheltering in place, you likely won’t be able to make quite as many grocery store runs and might have to forgo your favorite restaurants, so you’ll have to get creative with what’s in your pantry. Don’t worry, though, when we get to the other side of this, that burger and fries at the brewery are going to be all the tastier for it.

3. A Back-up Stash of Dehydrated Foods

If you really find yourself running low on fresh food supplies while in quarantine, it’s likely you have a stash of dehydrated foods to pull from. So, boil some water, add it to the bag, and let that rehydrated bag of three-bean chili remind you of long, good days on the trail.

4. Self-Control with Your Summit (and/or Quarantine) Oreos

It can be nice to have a little treat for yourself at the end of a long hike or when you reach a grueling summit. However, on multi-day treks, if you hammer down all of your victory Oreos on day one, days two through ten are going to be a little less tasty. 

Thru-hiking teaches the ability to ration supplies, whether that be a tasty treat or toilet paper. This can come in handy during social distancing when you might think you should eat the whole pack of Oreos tonight. Remember, you’ll wish you had one left for tomorrow.

5. Finding Comfort in Isolation

Thru-hiking can mean long stretches without seeing another person. This isolation on the trail teaches hikers how to embrace the quiet and lonely places of life. It provides an opportunity to get comfortable with your own company and be more self-reliant. While social distancing, these skills can come in quite handy when we have to forgo human interactions.

6. Embracing an Endurance Mindset

A global pandemic can sure feel like an endurance run. We all want this to be over, but it’s going to take time. Thru-hikers gain mental strength to settle in for the long haul when there are thousands of miles ahead of them, and having this type of endurance mindset can be really helpful in uncertain times like the ones we’re living through now.

7. Knowing You Can Overcome Challenges

When thru-hiking, not everyday is going to be a perfect weather day. Sometimes it rains on you. Sometimes it’s miserably hot. You might also have to face some physical challenges like a blister or sore muscles. The experience can be emotionally challenging, as well. But, you come to realize that each day is a new day and you can overcome those challenges one by one.

Thru-hiking evokes a mindset of acceptance and gratitude that helps hikers get through the hard parts and go with the flow. Having that thru-hiker mindset during quarantine can help shift your thinking toward looking at this challenge as an opportunity to grow stronger within yourself.

8. Having Tricks to Pass the Time

Even being surrounded by beautiful wilderness day after day can have some stretches that feel a bit, well, boring. Some days are focused on the grind of putting more miles behind you, and on these days, thru-hikers get creative with tricks to pass the time. If you’re getting antsy in your home, sing a song, add a dance to your steps, or find other creative ways to shake up that boredom.

Tip: Check out our previous blog on 25 Indoor Activities for Outdoorsy People During Self-Quarantine for inspiration!