Time is the Longest Distance Between Two Places

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.”

The saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” We can all relate to that in some way. A personal example of this is how long 30-minutes of French class felt to a 12-year old me, compared to the same length of time spent watching cartoons.

Looking back at 173 days on the Appalachian Trail in 2022, it doesn’t seem like half-a-year went by.

I have all the proof that it did: 1000’s of photos, 100 vlogs on my YouTube channel – Adventure Together (shameless plug), and memories of each day.

But when I consider how it feels now, it all seems condensed into what could be as little as a two-month period.

Similarly, I know that the seven months existed between finishing the AT and starting the PCT. After all, I lived them. I worked, spent time with family and friends, and talked endlessly about “The Trail” to anyone I could find who would allow me a moment to wax lyrical.

Yet, in the weeks leading up to my planned travel to San Diego, it felt as though I had just stepped off the flight home from the AT.

As I watched videos coming up on my YouTube feed, from the 2023 crop of hopeful AT thru-hikers, traversing the mountains of Georgia, it was as if I had been there just days before. Our experiences of these locations certainly didn’t feel separated by a whole year.

“I remember that bridge!”

“We had lunch on that fallen tree!”

“That’s the same Shelter we slept at on day four!”

Being reminded of those happy memories with my tramily, and how recent they feel, make me want to go back.

I guess I just miss my friends.

Suddenly, I found myself in San Diego.

Myself, with famous PCT Trail Angels, Scout & Frodo, at their home in San Diego

Walking around the grocery store to buy my first few day’s worth of food before hitting the PCT, felt as though I had been resupplying on the AT less than a week before. It was a continuation of the routine; not resuming it after a seven-month sabbatical away from life on trail.

It was strange how familiar it felt. Into the shopping cart go all of the same things as my last trail resupply: Knorr rice sides, macaroni elbows, olive oil, a jar of peanut butter, coffee, instant oats, Clif Bars, electrolytes, jumbo tortilla wraps, some 90% dark chocolate, and my favourites: Jolly Rancher Gummies. (Oh, America, if there’s one thing you do right, it’s these little gems of happiness).

It’s so simple when it’s routine.

A few days later, I was hiking again. Back on rough and rutted terrain, climbing hills, descending slopes, contending with brush, and sleeping on dirt. It felt like I had never left. Things that had happened in the interim of the two thru-hikes seem further back in time than anything from last year’s 2200 miles in Appalachia.

The familiar pain in my feet, knees, and hips, those sore shoulders from a heavy pack, cold mornings, and sweltering afternoons.

Every slow, exhausting, and painful hill climb from the AT seems like we did it yesterday.

The Mahoosuc Notch? Didn’t we do that this morning? It feels so recent.

Using trekking poles, planning mileages, filtering water; all aspects of trail culture that have returned to my life as though there had been no interval.

The familiarity of trail

“Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream.”

Where did the last seven months go? They don’t feel like months anymore. Maybe weeks. Occasionally, it feels more like days.

And somehow, a week has passed since I started the PCT. A moment that already seems so long ago.

An eternity must have passed since I sat atop the Southern Terminus and, afterwards, pushed my hand between the metal slats of the border wall. Why does time spent last August in the White Mountains National Forest, laughing with Red Panda and Holy Roller, while we had lunch in the rain, feel closer in time than last week?

I guess I just miss my friends.

“Friends and acquaintances are the surest passport to fortune.”

So far, I haven’t settled on a tramily for the PCT. I have met a lot of wonderful people, but no one seems to fit. Sometimes, it’s that our pace is too different. Sometimes, it’s that the personalities don’t mesh the right way. Sometimes, our plans don’t align.

Lamenting upon memories of my AT tramily has Sinead O’connor singing in my head.

“Since you’ve been gone I can do whatever I want… But nothing compares…”

I know I won’t be alone for long. The right people will come along soon. Somewhere around the bend.

There are too many amazing people out here to walk alone the whole way, unless that is your aim. I’d like to meet lots of people, flitting from group to group. I’m only a little over 100 miles in. There are over 2550 miles left to experience all of that.

I wonder if other hikers doing back-to-back thru-hikes feel the same? Unable to replace their tramily from the first hike.

So far, I’ve actually enjoyed being solo. A new bachelor of sorts. Now independent to choose my own mileages. Start, break, and finish times. No consultations or debates. Just quick decisions and always making the choice that’s best for me and me alone.

As much as I appreciate it, I reminisce from time to time.

I guess I just miss my friends…

…And I’m really looking forward to all of the new ones I will make over the next six-months, too.

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Comments 5

  • horatio hornblower : May 7th

    Having watched all your AT vlogs and being impressed by the insights expressed by Red Panda and Holy Roller in their post-hike interviews, it comes as no surprise that you would pen thoughts like these. The bond the three of you shared shone through the vlogs.

    Your words here have brought to mind something written by Winston O. Abbott in Come Walk Among the Stars, copyrighted in 1966. It’s a bit lengthy, but I think it in some ways speaks to what you have articulated in this post.

    My gift of life is a thing of transient beauty — a thing of mystery — and above all else a miracle — it is a thing of beauty because of the soul — a mystery because it stretches between the invisible yesterday and the unknown tomorrow — a miracle because it is a composite of countless other lives —

    And as my life has been gently touched by other lives — it follows that I have touched theirs too — one cannot always know the time of greatest need — perhaps this is as it should be — perhaps it is only for me to light one darkened corner of the path — to place a hand upon your shoulder as a symbol of my kinship and my love — perhaps I came this way — as did you — to fill some special need — but this is not always given us to know —

    Sometimes a single word will lift the spirit — sometimes words are so inadequate — and sometimes it is destined that one must only listen — sometimes a smile will bridge the empty darkness — sometimes just the nearness is the answer —

    From many lives I have gathered courage and strength — I have learned humility and gentleness and forgiveness — and for all these blessings — I am grateful —

    And so you must understand that your life is not your own — it has become a part of mine — and so it follows that my life does not belong to me — it is yours —

    • Al Marriott : May 10th

      That’s a wonderful quote. Theres a beautiful message in those words. Thanks for sharing.

      • sussybakatroller : Jun 16th


      • sussybakatroller : Jun 16th

        sx with vowel, 6/10

  • Ceciliahikes : Oct 11th

    I knew you were a great storyteller from your vlogs, but damnit Lookout, you’re a great writer too.
    All your hikes will turn into a book eventually, right?


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