Post-Hike Life Brings New Adventures

After 139 days hiking through the woods I began my reintegration into society. First things first, I had to trim up the overgrown forest that had been growing on my face! Check out the video:

Post-Trail Life

My hike began on February 28th, 2018 down in Georgia and 139 days later on July 16th, I summited Katahdin. The last day of my hike ended with revelry and celebration with my fellow hikers in Millinocket, Maine. But the morning after I found myself in the middle-of-nowhere Maine with the rest of my life before me.

I made my way down to the Appalachian Trail Cafe for breakfast and signed on of their ceiling tiles. See if you can pick out Crazy Horse in the photo. I had arranged for my friend Michael to come pick me up in Maine. He had hiked the first two weeks of the trail with me and had planned on summiting Katahdin with me but I summited a day early. He caught up with me at the cafe and we began the long journey back to the Midwest.

It was strange being behind the wheel again. Michael had driven my Ford Focus through the night from Wisconsin and now it was my turn to drive. Every inch of my body ached from 4.5 months of abuse. Nevertheless we continued the adventure with a trip to Acadia National Park, a detour through Rhode Island, a visit to Niagara Falls, and a swim in Lake Ontario. I could now say I’ve visited every state on the east coast and swam in all of the Great Lakes. Our road trip also included visits to Six Flags America and Cedar Point amusement parks. At last I made it to my hometown of Dearborn, Michigan, where one of my friends offered to pay for my haircut just so he didn’t have to look at the mess on my face.

At last Michael and I made it back to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where my journey had begun. I was home, one could say. However, I didn’t really have a home anymore. Two years prior I had been living in Milwaukee with a desk job before I quit and began working seasonal jobs around the country as a waiter. Having hiked the AT, I had a blank slate ahead of me. Milwaukee was my mailing address but I no longer lived there. I didn’t have a home.

I spent the next few weeks staying and visiting with friends and family. Michael ended up moving his whole life down to Asheville, NC. If I had not decided to hike the AT, he never would have joined me for the first two weeks on the trail and subsequently visited Asheville, NC (where we stayed with one of my friends). He loved Asheville so much from our brief visit there on the trail that he moved down there. It’s crazy how interconnected our lives are and how one decision can impact not just my own life but others. A few months after my hike I ended up visiting him in Asheville and we hiked the Art Loeb Trail together.

Reintegrating back into society was difficult. I had to remind myself to shower everyday and I must admit I didn’t change my underwear daily. My hiker hunger subsided after a week and I had rethink my portions when eating. I had maintained my weight on the trail so that as a plus. Any time I stood on my meet I experienced what I call the hiker hobble. It took a month before I could walk normally again. My legs were always stiff and sore. I visited the doctor and he determined that my infected toenail needed to be cut off. The calluses on my feet flaked off over a few weeks and my skin was quite dry for some time.

What I had accomplished didn’t hit me right away. I had hiked 2,200 miles across 14 states. Why did I do that? If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever go backpacking for four months I’d have said hell no. I hadn’t even backpacked once until two months before my thru-hike began. Life is crazy and full of surprises. But as I looked back on my hike, I realized I was a total bad ass. I hiked through snow storms, below-freezing temperatures, heat, bugs, encountered bears, climbed over mountains, forded rivers, been bitten by ticks, chipped a tooth, dislocated my shoulder, hiked with an infected toe, etc. After all that I could handle anything now.

But back in society I just wanted to be alone again. I have a newfound appreciation for solitude and a minimalist style of living. I realized that life is actually very simple and the only things that matter are the things you choose to matter. And so with the rest of my life in front of me, I packed up my AT backpack and headed for the airport. I had a one-year visa in my hand as I hopped a flight to Hawaii en-route to New Zealand. I was on to the next adventure!


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My Hike By the Numbers

  • 2,190.9 miles hiked on the AT
  • 8.8 miles hiked on the approach trail in Georgia
  • 3.9 miles hiked descending Katahdin along the Knife’s Edge

So, from start to finish I hiked 2,203.6 miles, not including the countless miles to and from shelters and privies, walking around trail towns and other cities I visited.

  • 14 states hiked thru
  • 139 days on the trail
  • 18 zero days
  • 4 bear sightings
  • 2 tick bites
  • 4 amusement parks visited while on the trail (and 2 more on the way home)
  • 2 pride festivals attended (the first was unplanned in Roanoke, the second in Boston)
  • 3 pairs of footwear used
  • 3 pairs of trekking poles used
  • 2 major injuries (infected toenail and dislocated shoulder)
  • 6 cities visited along the way (Gatlinburg, Asheville, Roanoke, Washington D.C., New York, Boston)

For a more detailed account of my day-to-day on the trail, check out my personal blog and YouTube for more videos from the trail.

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