We go until we can't.
The intention was to experience my first overnight hike. Though we knew it would be a great challenge, we chose Golden Ears Mountain as our trail. I was a bit anxious about the length and intensity, but there were five guys with me who I knew would encourage and motivate me till the end. Plus, I love testing my own strength and hate turning down a challenge.
It is possible to do this trail in one very long day. It's supposed to take 12 hours round trip. Cutting that into two six-hour portions with 40 extra pounds added makes for two very long days.
We felt optimistic. The weather forecast looked good and there were a lot of other hikers. However about two hours in, a gentle rain began to escalate to the point that we felt full rain gear was necessary. After another hour or so we found ourselves completely soaked through and in the midst of a torrential downpour.
We were forced to regroup and debate our course of action. Do we continue on and make the best of the adventure, but potentially freeze through the night in damp sleeping gear? Or do we cut our losses, head back, and seek out some burgers and beer?
It was close, but burgers and beer won in the end.
So my first over nighter didn't happen. Instead I lugged around a heavy pack in the rain for six hours. It felt like a fail. I've never had to leave a hike uncompleted like that before. But it was the right call. One of the guys was really starting the feel the pain of a past injury, two others didn't have rain covers for their packs, and I somehow managed to hit my head on a fallen tree, causing a mild concussion that resulted in a migraine later that night.
So go until you can't, but know your limits. It was great to spend solid time with the guys and experience lugging around an overnight pack for a good amount of time. One day I'll make it to the top, but that'll have to wait till next summer.