How The Pandemic, Knee Surgery, and Months of Planning Led Me to My Inner Peace or Close to It

The time spent after I got off the trail in August of 2019 was spent planning my next hike in 2020 of the PCT. I spent every waking minute saving money and planning for it. I had believed that the previous summer’s hike had finally helped me overcome all of my issues that I had and have dealt with for most of my teenage and adult life. Instead, it had given me a reason to live, and started me on the journey to finding my true inner peace. During that time, I was still in the cycle of leaving every place of work in anger because I felt betrayed by every employer I’ve worked under.

After my job ended, my left knee that I thought had a torn ACL felt like it was going to explode. This combined with the fractured hiking culture of 2020 led me to postpone my PCT hike. I was forced to move back home with my parents and spend three months trying to diagnose my left knee. This ended with meniscus repair surgery and a rehab timeline similar to an ACL.

I spent the rest of 2020 and 2021 planning for where I am today. I had realized that all I wanted was a minimalistic life, either in a van or in a tiny house that was close to the trail. The trail gave me this power of minimalism. This would enable me to keep my expenses extraordinarily low in order to escape society’s cycle of chasing high-paying jobs in order to pay high-paying rent or high mortgages. This would give me a life of multiple hikes of my choosing with a place that I could call home to come back to.

I was fortunate enough to yoyo Maine and New Hampshire on my 2019 long-distance hike, and as most people do, all I wanted to do was stay. After a cold stretch in Ohio, I had realized that I would enjoy New England’s winters. Well, after about a year of saving money, of planning and learning about real estate. I am sitting in a 16 by 16 cabin that I have poured my heart into renovating (and still needs work), that is sitting on five acres of forest in the Maine woods that is within an hour of the Appalachian Trail.

I am writing this with a wood-burning stove heating my cabin and a yellow lab sleeping next to me. I am writing this after getting triggered at work. It was the process after that moment that showed me the true progress I have made. I have everything I need at my fingertips. Why should I jump back into the old cycle?

I truly no longer have the constant anger in my life. I finally have the tools to confront people when they are mean, to confront employers when they are wrong, to live my life the way I want to. Without those tools, resentment builds up, leading to the ticking time bomb that has been my life. I am not constrained to anybody’s vision but my own. I will one hundred percent be going back to the trail on a thru-hike in the coming future (two years). But first, let me finish building the home I can come back to when I am not on the trail.

The trail itself will not lead you past all of your struggles. This was my initial mistake. You have to take the time to figure out how you want to take parts of the trail back into the real world.

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