The initial magnetic draw and appeal of an Appalachian Trail thru-hike can dissolve into a decision to leave the trail altogether for some backpackers. Here’s a few reasons why:
The money runs out.
Some realize that they simply don’t enjoy walking long distances with a heavy pack.
Physical injury (stress fractures, tendonitis, falls, etc.).
An emergency on the home front necessitates ending the trip.
Conflicts with a hiking partner.
Hiking in cold, wet weather.
Hiking in hot, humid conditions.
Simply getting tired of walking.
Emotional stress: depression, loneliness, anxiety.
The romance of hiking the trail wears off.
Hope for an epiphany or spiritual awakening has not materialized.
Expecting a hike along the A.T. would be a “cure” bad relationships, job loss, aimlessness in life, etc.
Carrying too much weight in the pack.