The Mental Journey to Now
I decided it might be time for me to articulate the thoughts that have been going through my head for the last three-ish months.
These thoughts fall along a wide spectrum. Once in a while over the past few months I have jotted something down about what I was feeling with regards to the Trail. As a result, I have a paper trail betraying my changing moods since I had to get off the Trail in August. I decided I might as well share it.
Because isolating myself from the trail community is not a great solution to missing the Trail (no, really?). It is amazing to be part of something so much bigger than myself, to be part of the AT/thruhiking culture and I need to get back into it.
So let’s do this.
During my first month off trail, I think it’s pretty safe to say that my feelings were all over the place. I didn’t really know what to think. I was disappointed that I had had to call off my thruhike attempt for the time being. But I was also glad to be home. The chiropractor had diagnosed the problem with my back and leg and we had started down the road to recovery. Everyone commended me for listening to my body and told me not to be down on myself because I had already accomplished so much. I tried to believe them and sort of succeeded, what with the triumph of Katahdin still fresh in my mind. I was getting back to work in a job I love, so everything was new and exciting again. Being home also meant that I got to watch my siblings play high school soccer. And I was trying to believe that there was a God-given reason that I couldn’t finish my hike this year, and I was sort of succeeding.
Then the next phase hit.
I am not sure what brought it on. Maybe the craziness of work. Maybe the pain I was still feeling in my body. Maybe the fact that thruhiking season was still in swing and people I knew were finishing the Trail. Who knows. Word for word, this is what I jotted down one night during this time.
Having to get off the trail in the middle of a thruhike attempt due to an injury sucks x10.
I’ve been sitting around with these feelings for a while now. Well, actually I haven’t been sitting around all that much, because work and life, but this negativity has been sitting around in my head. And when I try to work out and my hip hurts, or when I’m on my feet all day at work and my feet hurt, or when I dump more money into chiropractor visits, the “this sucks” messages flashes across my brain in obnoxious neon colors.
And somehow, the “this sucks” message that flashed across my brain while I was out there dealing with Vermud or rain or southern Maine suddenly pales in comparison.
Clearly, humans are fickle things. The grass is always greener, so they say.”
I think the negativity I was feeling at this time was also because I was stressed about money, seeing as my bank account had been somewhat drained. You have to understand that I don’t spend money if I don’t need to. I get home from the Trail and the five hundred and one expenses that come with adulting slap me in the face. And then I turn around and there’s five hundred more. Sometimes adulting sucks, too.
Moral of the story: sometimes the elemental/basic concerns of life in the woods are a welcome break from the complicated concerns of life in the real world.
Pessimistic phase complete.
Then I turned a corner. I’m not sure why or how or when exactly, but it happened and I started feeling optimistic again. I am looking forward to getting back to the Trail, probably in the fall of 2018. In the meantime, I am letting my finances recover and my back/hip/feet heal. I had originally thought about hitting the Trail in February in Georgia and heading north to Virginia, but February seemed frighteningly soon. Finishing the Trail in the fall will also give me time to change up some gear. I want to get a lighter backpack and maybe try out some trail runners for shoes. If you have suggestions, leave me a note in the comments!
I think about the Trail all the time, though. I remember how blessed I am and how amazing it was. I remember the bad days, and how I survived them. I remember the good days and the glory I felt in my soul. Sometimes it feels unreal, like it was a dream.
But the bottom line is, God willing, I will be returning to the Trail. For that I am excited. I want to walk through the southern states and experience the beauty there. I want to traverse the grassy balds and meet cool people and visit the infamous trail towns.
While I am waiting, I need to get better at going on adventures here at home and taking the time to go to nature. I need to stay in with the trail community, too. I even entertained the idea of going to Trail Days next year. This is a culture that I entered into and have become a part of and I need to keep myself immersed in it. Because I feel like a better, more confident person when I am in it. I feel like I am getting closer to the best version of myself.
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