Fourth Fake Zero Post PCT Analysis

Screw this brave face. The sadness comes in waves, or gusts of wind, and I’m scared the next one is going to blow me over. It just might. Tears live just under the surface of these eyelids lately. These waves of pain make me one of those people who cry just walking down the chips aisle in the grocery store. I just wait for the waves to soften, then pull it together and keep on pretending. I’m pretending I’m not burning inside, I pretend it’s easy coping, I pretend it’s easy to be strong. I try to be as likable as possible, because the thought of being denied or told no might be the next wave’s breaking point.

I’m going to be fine. I know I’m going to be just fine. Because the trail and life provide to those who spread good and that is what this trail has taught me to do. Now I know to ask about the light or dark behind someone else’s eyes. Because hearing their story helps me understand mine. In a big way that’s what this trail gave me. It helped me understand my own confusion. I started the PCT with a list of questions that I wanted answered from the world. The trail taught me there are NO answers to these questions; the trail also taught me to be OK with that, to live in peace with the unknown.

For now I’m just working to make it through each day, planning a future I can prosper around. Finding a career that will help me feel fulfilled, and a nest that I can always come home too. I’m surrounded by my friends, which I think is the only reason I’m still standing. The ability to laugh with them helps me keep the light at the end of the tunnel shining.

Little things everywhere remind me of my thru-hike. The stench of mothballs on my belongings (from six months of my belongings in storage), the dirt underneath my nails, the hair all over my body, the way a hot shower feels SO good, the sound of rain on the roof, a friendly conversation with a stranger, the light in the eyes of strangers that makes me believe that they are good people and want the best for this world, and me and you.

Hiking the PCT gave me six months of my life I’ll never regret, countless memories to look back on, beautiful friends, and a better outlook on life and belief in my fellow humans.

Hiker Gang on that final hitch… home.



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Comments 2

  • Audrey Payne : Oct 2nd

    I’m sure it MUST get better, but I’m two weeks out from finishing the AT and the tears STILL live right behind my eyes. I feel like half my energy each day goes toward keeping it together!

  • James Benthuysen : Oct 8th

    Following a 2012 thru hike I experienced a profound difficulty in returning to before. The experience changes you, but those you come back to don’t / can’t get it – and how could they. Your trail fam gets it as they were there and understand what happened. While it’s been called a depression it’s better thought of as re-entry syndrome – a known thing when emerged in a different culture you return to your own and have to reintegrate the what was with the now. It took me 6 months of terrible insomnia and emotional instability took reach thru it- it’s a process like grief. And really you may be grieving loss of something you unexpectedly found. For me it was a authentic egalitarian way of being with others that simply isn’t there in the front country. I trail angel now to reconnect when I can. There were terrible times when I thought I was losing my mind but now know it’s a process and I think if someone could have told me this it would have made a huge difference. That’s why I write this. ‘Cause others don’t / can’t get it – and the judgement of “ you took so time off and had a nifty vacation so what’s your problem “ sure didn’t help. Some don’t seem as bothered as others by the phenomenon- my guess is who you were / your circumstances pre hike and how that aligns with you now is a factor – as a guess… Best and Congrats to all


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