Going Minimal: Preparing for the End

I love having only the bare essentials.

One of the aspects of hiking I most enjoy, and am greatly looking forward to, is the minimalism. I love having only the bare essentials. There is something incredibly freeing about being able to pick up and go anywhere knowing that you have everything you need to face life. Shelter, clothes, food, warmth, all contained in a pack on your back. It’s something that is truly beautiful to me.

An Effort to Ward Off Post-Trail Depression

This much longed-for beauty has made me confront all of the things I have in my off-trail life. Exercise equipment, DVD’s, bread machines, old dog toys, you name it. All this… accumulated stuff. I am well aware of the phenomenon called Post-Trail Depression. Already possessing depressive tendencies, I have been trying in earnest to mitigate the inevitable pit of despair that awaits me after Manning Park. I have long surmised that when I get back from the trail, it’s going to be hard for me to re-assimilate into my life of stuff. Going from the bare essentials to things covering every surface of our house and multiple sets of, well, everything, will be a shock to my system. So, in an effort to make coming home easier, we’ve begun to purge copious amounts of things from our house.


I have always been interested in minimalism. The concept of being happier with less has always struck a chord within me ever since I was young. It really stems from my mother, who is beyond a doubt a low-level hoarder. Our minimalism journey really began when my husband and I moved from our apartment in one state to our new house in another. We donated or threw away more than 14 boxes of superfluous junk while we kept only about 12. It was an incredibly liberating feeling.

Suddenly, we were much more mobile, much more free, and we had much more room to do with what we wanted. As we unpacked in Michigan, however, we started to notice that we still had a bunch of random stuff. Old half-finished art projects, spare computer parts, excess pet supplies, in short, things that we did not need. With things being hectic in our new state, we just let stuff sit and accumulate again.

The Life-Changing Magic

As time went on, I ended up picking up the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. The book boasted that it could teach anyone to have a tidy house (which we are the least tidy of people). The book greatly intrigued me, and as I read on, I realized that the book was secretly a minimalism book in disguise! Marie Kondo states that you should not keep anything that does not immediately ‘spark joy’ within you. This concept was something that I really connected with. Why keep anything around that doesn’t make you happy?

I began going around the house and purging any and everything that didn’t make me happy. We are still in this new purging process. It takes a while to go around and gather, ponder, and sort EVERY one of your belongings. However, thus far we have gotten rid of another five bags of stuff to Goodwill and several more to the trash. Even after our initial purge, it turns out we had a LOT more than we thought we did.
As we progress in our minimalist journey, we are always trying to get down to the level of things that makes us happy. For me, it is less than my husband, but that is okay. Minimalism a way to keep our house in order now, it is a way for us to both connect with my upcoming hike. By minimizing our possessions, it will make it easier for both of us when I return from a successful thru-hike!

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Comments 6

  • Christina Crescimanno (Maybelline) : Dec 11th

    I have recently started on a minimalism journey as well and I’ve already been feeling the mental/emotional benefits! My goal is to have so few possessions that my apartment can’t possibly be cluttered, no matter what. It feels great to come home to a clutter-free, clean apartment, and I have so much more time/mental head-space for more important things.

    • Robin Sorenson : Dec 15th

      Good for you! Minimalism is great for the mind. Wishing you luck on your journey!

  • stealthblew : Dec 13th

    Two points…1) less is always more until there is nothing left. And 2) thru hiker depression is based on a combination of suddenly not getting the same amount of daily exercise the body has become accustom to (endorphin withdrawal): finding yourself back into a world where everyday life decisions are a little more complicated as oftentimes these decisions may impact others (responsibilities); realizing how narcissistic folks can sometimes be (truly amazing); and with a hiker appetite over eating is oftentimes a factor too. In short, you will still be vulnerable to post hike depression regardless of what is awaiting at home. Nothing to fear though as it is well worth the price of admission to a wonderful experience.

    Have fun.

    • Robin Sorenson : Dec 15th

      You are certainly correct. However, some people are happy with nothing or close to nothing. We certainly just have way too much stuff to deal with. Minimalism is a great way to ease the stress on the mind. Your second point is also correct, and I am not saying that clutter/things are going to be a cause for PTD for everyone, I just know that it WILL be a cause for me, personally.
      Thank you for reading and commenting!

  • stealthblew : Dec 13th

    Minimalism and light weight hiking often share a common theme. It is easier in the long run to endure a little hardship than always have what one needs at his/her disposal. This is because it takes too much effort (or money) to either store all of these things necessary for life’s surprises or the will (strength) to hall everything one might desire through the woods on one’s back.

    • Robin Sorenson : Dec 15th

      Indeed! And anyway, anything that you may not have is certainly available in town. Like nail clippers and showers.


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