When you reach the finish line, sign onto social media, or visit the local hangout in an outdoor town, adventure jargon tends to be the same. You hear repetitive phrases about epic pursuits: \u201cah man, you should have been there,\u201d \u201cwe slayed that course,\u201d \u201cit was insane...\u201d \u201coff the hook...\u201d or as the uber cool kids say\u2014\u201cit was dank.\u201d But there\u2019s one thing missing from modern outdoor adventure: honest reflection.\r\nAs outdoor athletes and recreationalists we love to push boundaries, but when we discover those limits and need to take a step back it can be difficult to process, let alone discuss. This past fall I hiked across the state of North Carolina on the 1,175 mile Mountains-Sea-Trail. But I wouldn\u2019t do it again\u2014at least not in the same manner.\r\nTo be clear, I loved the actual trail and the hiking experience. My hesitation going into it was that I would not enjoy or appreciate a route that was actively being built and is connected by 500 miles of road. I was wrong. It was incredible to be one of the first 100 hikers to complete the full length of the MST. Like holding a newborn baby during the first few months of life, there\u2019s something intimate and exceptionally sweet about being one of the first thru-hikers to finish a particular long trail.\r\nSpeaking of children, this was a family affair and I was also anxious about how my kids would fare. That\u2019s one reason why my husband Brew and I decided we would only hike as a family when and where it was appropriate. Our plan was to spend the early mornings and evenings together, but during the day I would walk alone.\r\nWhen we began our three-month migration across North Carolina, my daughter Charley was four years old and my son Gus was just shy of a year. I wanted nothing more than for my children to enjoy the experience of being a family of nomads: spending time every day in nature, building memories together, and learning important life lessons from the people and the land of their home state. And in that sense, our journey exceeded my expectations.\r\nCharley learned about Cherokee culture near Great Smoky Mountains National Park; she rode shotgun in a tractor turning up sweet potatoes in Sampson County; and she voluntarily picked up trash on North Carolina beaches in an effort to protect the sea turtles. She gained an education that won\u2019t be offered in kindergarten.\r\nGus, on the other hand, was held or chased down by a myriad of friends and strangers. He was loved by people\u2014and he gave love to people\u2014from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and beliefs. He\u2019s more joyful and trusting than he would be if he hadn\u2019t spent a fourth of his life in the arms and homes of people he\u2019d never met.\r\nWhen we were packing up our camping gear, toys, and bags of clothes for the start of the adventure, I wasn\u2019t worried about my husband or my marriage. But the second day of our hike we rushed Brew to the Emergency Room in Cherokee with pain in his chest. He had a condition called pericarditis. It can be really serious but it\u2019s also easily treated with medication and, thankfully, has no lasting side effects. So, hours after the diagnosis I was back on the trail. Brew wanted me to hike. In fact, he insisted that I continue. But I regret walking away from my husband.\r\nI should have stayed put that day, perhaps for several days or even weeks, to make sure he healed up well. But at the time, Brew and I both felt like I needed to keep hiking. The culture of adventure is to push through pain, not stop for it. There is also a pressure that comes with adventure. It\u2019s both internal and social, and it tells us that quitting in the middle of the woods\u2014where no one is present and no one is watching\u2014will look horrible.\r\nAs difficult as the beginning of the hike was for Brew in a physical sense, the greater challenge came from the emotional strain of handling logistics, caring for our young brood, and watching me leave each morning to live out my dream\u2014and his. He would love to hike the Mountains-to-Sea Trail someday. I took it for granted that the man who helped me set a Fastest Known Time on the Appalachian Trail, the hands-on father who loved spending time with his kids, would have no trouble supporting me and our offspring on this adventure. But it was too much.\r\nOver the course of three months, I saw my husband bottle up stress and unleash it. We spent evenings crying together and other nights far apart. I\u2019ve seen adventures, mountains, trails, and rivers tragically claim lives, but I have also observed them end marriages and separate families. I love adventure, but my outdoor identity and status does not mean as much to me as Brew, Charley, and Gus do.\r\nWe will not undertake another journey similar to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. It\u2019s not healthy for our family. We found our limits and it\u2019s time to take a step back. There are amazing individuals scaling mountains and completing long trails with young\u2014sometimes very young\u2014children. But all families are different, all individuals are different, and it\u2019s important to remember that we can draw inspiration from other people without comparing ourselves to them. Everyone has their own sweet spot for adventure and it shifts over time. My plan is to take on some more \u2018rad,\u2019 \u2018ripe,\u2019 \u2018lit\u2019 long trails in a decade or two\u2014with my husband.