Eight Ways to Reconnect After Your Thru-hike

A couple weeks from now, I will be exactly one year older than the day I started walking north from Springer Mountain. This means that about 1.7% of my life up to date has been spent hiking the Appalachian Trial.

Almost a year later, I feel disconnected. As a new class of hikers embarks on their journey, I am filled with jealousy. I’m not jealous about the actual hiking they’re doing, but jealous about the feelings they’re feeling, the sights they’re seeing, and the inner growth they will experience throughout their journey. These feelings, sights, and personal growth are  likely similar to what I, and all past thru-hikers, have experienced. If I could start walking north from Springer again, would I do it? No, but I would do anything to feel the way I felt, and live as freely and carelessly as I did starting one year ago.


As I sit here, feeling so disconnected while others are living their dream, I remind myself that there are ways for me to connect. Ways that I have connected to the AT in the past and should pursue in the future. Remember, you don’t need to be thru-hiking to be part of the trail. If you’re feeling disconnected like me, to a trail so important to you, consider the following things to help you reconnect.

1. Trail Magic
Undoubtedly one of the most satisfying ways to give back to the trail. If you live near any section of the trail, make a hiker’s day with some booze and calories. If you live too far away on the trail, consider giving trail magic through Appalachian Trials! A couple weeks ago, I drove some trail magic up to Zach in Denver to give to the first college kid he sees on the trail.

Zach Trail Magic

Zach distributing YOUR trail magic!

2. Follow our bloggers! (and help them)
We have an incredible group of bloggers currently out on the Trail. Go and read their stories.  Comment and give them your input/advice. Encouraging current hikers is a great way to stay connected to the trail.

3. Get an outdoors-oriented job
I recently started working retail at GoLite. It’s a fun job because I get paid real money and I get to talk to people about hiking! It’s way more exciting than my old job grading accounting exams.

4. Write for this site!
Appalachian Trials is always looking for new writers. You don’t even need to be a thru-hiker to write for us!

5. Find a new adventure
In reference to an article I previously wrote, finding a new journey to embark on is a great way to reconnect to your trail-life.

6. Stay in touch with trail friends
This is something I’ve done a terrible job with and need to work on. Your trail friends understand you more than any other people. Reaching out to them can help you feel less disconnected to the trail.

7. Get outside
There are numerous medical benefits to getting outside. Staying inside all day will not help your physical and emotional well being. Go outside and be happy!

8. Grow back your beard.
I’m not sure if this will work for everyone, but I haven’t shaved in a couple weeks and I’m starting to feel like my old hiker-trash self again.


If you have any ideas for how to reconnect to the trail after your thru-hike, please comment below!

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