Post Trail Depression and Reflection

As I sit here at home drinking my coffee and nursing my injuries from this summer’s attempt to hike the PCT, I am constantly drawn to head back to the trail. Post trail depression is here for me. On trail, life is so simple. I don’t need a big house or a fancy car, I just need a small tent and pack to carry all my gear as I put one foot in front of the other. Every day on the trail I would wake up, go find a place to pee, get back in my tent, and make coffee. After breakfast, I would pack up and start walking. It’s that simple. Day after day. But in those mundane times, I would think of my son, look at how beautiful the landscape was, eat berries, filter fresh cold water from a stream to drink, watch the clouds move across the sky, look at the wind blow the pine trees from a different angle, enjoy the flowers, watch an animal move across the land. It was magical. It’s what makes me alive.

Maybe it Wasn’t the Right Year for Me

It was a crazy year. Not only was there record-breaking snowfall in the Sierra but there were two snow storms the end of March and the beginning of May which forced me to take a couple of zeros off trail.  I also skipped the Sierra to come back and hike it when it was thawed from the crazy year. I really didn’t want to wake up at 3 a.m. to hike for 8 hours with a headlamp in the Sierra for 5 weeks straight. That’s a whole different level of suffering. The Sierra holds a special place in my heart. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth. Why would I want to hike it in the dark? If I could do it again, I would be more determined to do a continuous thru-hike. I let fear get in my way. Maybe I would have picked a year that had less snow.

A Better Plan for Injuries

I headed back on the trail 3 different times to continue my hike. Leaving the trail due to overuse injury. Oh, I wish I was younger. I think if I could do it again, I would take a week off to heal at a trail angel’s house versus heading home. I let too much time pass and I feel like I ran out of time.  To hike 2,600 miles, I really have to stay consistent and keep hiking. I felt like each time I got back on the trail I was starting over. It was hard to hike 20-mile days when I took time off the trail. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would lose weight before my hike. I know this sounds silly since I will lose weight on the trail. But I didn’t lose much weight on the trail this year. I blame it on my age and hormones. But I think if I weighed less maybe I would have less stress on my body and fewer injuries.

Have More Fun

The trail is hard. It will break you. It will chew you up and spit you out. I believe the only way to handle the hard times is humor. I let the stress of the trail take the fun away; the stress of hiking enough miles, the stress of the snow, and the stress of finishing the trail. It was more business and less play. Six months is a long time to be on the trail and away from family. I think I should have let my spirit be free. I should have sung more, danced more, and let my inner child out more.

Overall, I hiked 84 days and roughly 1,100 miles of the trail. I’m sad it’s not 2,600 miles, but I’m trying to be proud of what I accomplished. It’s the longest hike I have done this far. Hopefully I can connect the dots and finish all the miles next summer. It will still unsettle me that I’m a LASHer and not a long-distance thru-hiker. Just maybe one year I will give it another shot.
Thanks for following along.
You can follow more of my hiking adventures on my Instagram at JMTGirl.

Bye for now

-Bad Ass

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Comments 1

  • Desert Moon : Sep 15th

    Beth I can totally relate to this. I had a very similar experience and yes I am disappointed with the outcome too. But I am focussing on the fact that I hiked almost 1400 miles and enjoyed myself thoroughly. Taking it slow and soaking up all of those magnificent mountain views was totally worth it.

    I am also tempted to look at it with hindsight (which is always 20/20) and second guess my choices and wish that I had done it differently, I think that is human nature.
    Maybe we should choose to see it as a massive accomplishment and something to be incredibly proud of and bask in the gratitude of this rewarding experience.

    All the best to you and congratulations on your achievement. ❤️


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