Thoughts on Life After the Trail
First, let me apologize for being probably the worst blogger in the history of bloggers. I somehow managed to make it all the way from Top of Georgia hostel to Katahdin without blogging a single word. Well, brief update: I made it. I made it all the way from Georgia to Maine. I walked home (as everyone I met on the trail liked to say). I can’t even begin to characterize the experience as articulately as it deserves.
I met so many incredible people, some who will remain in my life forever, and some who will remain in my memory forever. I went on the trail with grand expectations of finding myself, and becoming enlightened as to what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I can confidently say that I didn’t finish the trail with all the answers I thought would come to me, but the trail left it’s mark on me in a way that only thru hikers could ever possibly understand. I found a confidence in myself that I never knew existed, and I saw the beauty in people I probably never would have given a second thought to outside of the trail. After all, the trail is a great equalizer.
I miss the Appalachian Trail every single day. I long for the simplicity, the rote schedule of getting up at 5:15am and walking all day. I miss talking for 10 hours straight with my trail bff Food Bag, and laughing with Mismatch and Ginger Patch (more often than not when they would do something disgusting). I miss making fun of my Dad as he struggled every night to find a branch and hang our food bags (if I haven’t said it enough, thanks for doing that everyday, Dad). I miss the pure joy that I felt when the guidebook mentioned a vending machine or deli that was only .4 miles off the trail. I miss my cocoon of a tent that always kept me warm and dry over the course of 4 ½ months. I miss that the most annoying part of my day on the trail was filtering water. I miss all of it, even the difficult and monotonous parts.
Thru hiking made me feel like the best version of myself. I don’t remember a time in my life when I’ve felt more at ease or happy. To anyone contemplating a thru hike, do it. Don’t think about it, just do it. Start a savings account now, start gathering gear now. It’s a decision that anyone who has ever thru hiked will tell you was one of the best they ever made.
As for what I’m doing now: I’m back to life as usual, working and doing real life things (like showering more than once a week and not spending 10-12 hours a day exercising), but I have my sights set on a PCT thru hike in a few years with some of my best trail friends (and my Dad; he is the reason I found my love for hiking in the first place).
Don’t wait to do the things you love, it will be the best decision you ever make.
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