Say you are behind because you can’t keep up your planned pace, or you had to take time off to rest through an injury, or you had to make an unplanned trip home. You are troubled that all your preparation and plans to complete your thru-hike will come to naught. This is because you realize, at your current pace, you can’t finish the A.T. before Baxter State Park closes on October 15th, or if you are on the PCT, you can’t reach Canada before snows in the Cascade Mountains. On the CDT, snow and weather in Glacier National park will stop you.
Flip-flop. Do what you can and then book it north well before expected snows or closings, and hike back down to the place where you left. Thru-hikers do this all the time, especially when they have only that year to carry out their dream. Because of work or school, they may be unable to finish the following spring.
For any thru-hiker heading north or south and facing the problem, flip-flop; drive or hitch to the end point and start hiking back. You won’t be alone.
If a flip-flop still can’t work for you, don’t beat yourself up. You deserve better, and you have the rest of your life to accomplish a dream.
Bottom pictures are from the Wind River Range in Wyoming.