Perhaps Gimli personifies the endurance it takes to hike the A.T. For sure, he is uncomfortable, way past a long rest. Yet he seems up for the game, and presses on. Chasing orcs will take you out of long pursuits; after all, they’re Saruman‘s creations – mindless, heedless of discomfort, meant for speed and killing. Humans, not so much. Granted, Aragorn and Legolasare faring better and they also keep going, regardless of pain. Because they’re focused and committed. And, yes, the lives of the hobbits are at stake. When hiking long distances, it’s likely the safety of friends or family is not in the balance, and Katahdin is not Mordor. But you want to get there. That’s why you set out – to get there and back again. So the key is to accept the physical pain. But don’t be reckless about it. Don’t ignore blisters and aching feet. There’s a balance between wise self-care that keeps you going down the trail and thoughtless plugging ahead despite physical signals. Stop, attend to the symptoms, such as doing effective blister treatment, hydration, and snacks, and then move ahead. Your mind will run through every song you know sooner than you think. Your memories will have exhausted themselves. You’ll end up – sooner or later – in an emotional cauldron, because this is not monastic journey. It’s very, very communal. I often think of the A.T. as a “city of hikers on the move,” some going south, most going north. You meet people. If you’re historically an introvert, as I was, you get a quick course in human relationships. And you realize you need them. Later on you come to realize that you actually like some of them. And they might just like you. While hiking alone is always an option, and sometimes it’s good to go solo for a few days, you’ll discover the Appalachian Trail is crawling with people. Some of them are real characters! Connecting on the trail is part of what makes for practical, successful persistence.