The Waiting Game
(AT Thru-Hikers Admiral and Little Brother; waiting for Trail Family to summit Mt. Katahdin)
The down time between wandering can be a heartbreaking time. There is an extreme longing to be out on an adventure, but stuck in the day to day life. As always there is the oogaling of others on adventures you’re dreaming of being on. Searching for the next place to get caught up in. It becomes a waiting game.
Upon finishing the Appalachian Trail a swell of mixed emotions ran over me. First and foremost “I Did It,” second my tear stained face cried it’s over. During the last months, my trail family dreamed of what would come next. There is something about being on a long-distance hike that makes a person never want to leave. We planned adventures as grand as thru-hiking on Mars.
I have been waiting for my next adventure to begin almost since the time I limped off of Mount. Katahdin. I have been in a limbo where the longing of the last trail still lingers and the longing of the next burns hot. Everything else feels like a standstill. Memories and fantasies wrap together and create a bind that holds me in place. I feel like there in nothing to do but works towards my next adventure.
Many of my friends and cohort have “grown up” or “moved on” in their lives. In many ways I feel left behind compared to them. Though I have realized I want very different things out of my life. Our life paths are different and mine is far from traditional, but I do not regret anything. I have stood on breathtaking peaks. I’ve dug my hands deep into soil and grew my own food. I have slept in the pouring rain and managed to put wet socks back and and hike again.
Then there are my friends who were able to hop onto a trail quicker than I could. I really feel more jealousy towards them. While I am not a fan of blaring hot summers, I wish I could have headed out on the Pacific Crest Trail. Those that also haven’t been able to dedicate that time still go on exploring, while I dream of the same.
In some respects I feel like I am playing the waiting game with my life. I sometimes think I would love to start my “career,” to put roots down. I followed the traditional path for so long, I am not even sure how I found one made of dirt.
The solution to the waiting game, that I have found, is just letting time pass. I wait, as frustrating as it can be, I wait. I enjoy the planning aspect of adventures. I look at maps and imagine itineraries. I dissect the gear I want to bring and compare cost. I make list of all the things I want to see and dive deeper into them. In the end the adventures are always worth the time in between.
The only thing that has kept so many of us hikers sane is planning the next adventure. With Katahdin in our sights we had to anchor ourselves down into this reality by lifting dreams of the next exciting venture.
It all just feels like a waiting game.
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