Moving on from Hitched Hike
Apologies for being upfront
Hitched Hike is no more. The videos still exist, but the part of what makes Hitched Hike tick is gone. Timber (that’s me) and Little Engine split. Are no longer together. Got divorced.
To be clear, our demise had nothing to do with thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail or hiking in any sense. It was a combination of major life events and a handful of bizarre choices like leaving your husband and your former life.
Psychological case study?
But I don’t care. This is not about her. This is about moving on.
I’ll make some trail related analogical remarks referring to the seriousness of how difficult this was. Do not get me wrong. This was an intense struggle for me. I do not wish it on anyone.
I was lost in real life. Like lost on trail but if the trail had been destroyed, sabotaged by the hikers that loved it and removed from existence by what made it so great. Like if I stepped away in the soft duff between the mossy Maine granite for a quick poop and spent the rest of my foreseeable life wondering where I was going. Only, I never stepped off the trail. It walked away from me.
I questioned if my hiking experience was real at all. It’s an emptying feeling. Not only lost, but lost without any hope of finding the path again.
I paced in my apartment every waking hour unsure how to fill the time, unaware of my major depressive state. I wasn’t sad, just empty and lost, wandering hopelessly and falling into a pit, waiting to hit the bottom. It never came. Sleepless nights and endless days manifested themselves in constant joyless motion and no eating. I lost a lot of weight. I couldn’t taste anything. My tongue was smooth.
I struggled with understanding that the trail I had been hiking for twelve years had ceased to exist. I had to accept my being lost in the emptiness. I had to walk away into nothing. It was terrifying.
I cried twice. Once kneeling in my tiny hallway pleading to God.
“Help me!” I said, over and over. What felt like a warm blanket covering me in response is what caused me to cry. I couldn’t help but sob out several times, “Thank you,” as my tears fell into the beige carpet. I didn’t feel helpless or hopeless anymore; I knew without a doubt that I would be okay walking out into the wilderness. It wasn’t any less terrifying.
The second time was the day we were officially divorced (August, 2015 for those time puzzlers). I sat down after returning from the courthouse and felt an overwhelming sense of grief. Mourning for death. Everything that we had created. So much had just died.
What of Hitched Hike?
I created Hitched Hike back in 2013. It turned into a minor hit for the time as it allowed folks to follow us through our on-trail video updates. It was unique in that it was both video and more than one person. There were two, married, and a third, a friend, Ambassador (don’t worry, he’s still around). Not to boast, but we were a lot of fun. And the videos are pretty damn good considering they were filmed, edited, and published all from a 2nd-generation Ipod Touch.
Hitched Hike was and is an inspiration to many people and I found myself surprisingly busy with correspondence between other prospective thru-hikers, many of them married or planning to be, and a few I was able to meet in person. I had made something and it was making a positive impact.
How then do I keep Hitched Hike when divorced? I thought. Well, it turns out, I don’t. And I can’t get another character to fill the roll either. I am remarried, but Hitched Hike 2 the United Kingdom with a new lead female is no good. For many reasons you can guess.
I was worried, still am worried, about the fallout that may possibly occur for those who have watched the videos. I am confident that time will bring about understanding, that life is what it is. The big trail analogy: It’s tough out there, but worth it.
Much like my experience thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, I am not giving up on my passions for adventure, nor my passions for loving others and letting myself be loved. Nor should any of you.
My wife, Melanie (trail name pending) is a writer, an adventurer, brilliant, and beautiful in every kind of way. I could not have hoped for someone like her to pop into my life at such a strange time and fashion as she did. She may actually have the fernweh/wanderlust gene more severely than I do.
So what now? No Hitched Hike, but lots of budding momentum. I am about to finish my undergrad degree (Ambo and I both at the same time) after military service and thru-hiking the AT. Another long hike seems like a good graduation gift for myself. Mel and I talk about it every day.
Another hike then… And we’re pretty damn excited about it!
The Pennine Way and The Scottish National Trail, summer 2017.
Will we keep you updated? Sure!
Will there be videos? There better be!
What’s the name? Haven’t figure that out yet. But it’s not Hitched Hike.
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