Only the Trail Makes Sense, and That’s OK

I should probably structure the posts I make and add pictures to display what I mean. That all is nice, and certainly will be done when I am on the trail. However, the thing about long-distance hiking is that it is raw, and driven by passion and dedication rarely seen in the so called “real world.” For the past six or so months since I’ve been off trail, I’ve spent hours trying to describe the feeling to people who have never gone backpacking more then a few days, but no one understands.

Society took away my hometown, then formed a massive group of bullies that still haunts me to this day. The trail isn’t an escape from them; it’s a home that finally welcomes me.

On the trail, you will pass a lot of people, and just about every single one will stop and have a friendly conversation with you. You may never see them again or you may hike with them for months. In the real world, people pass you by without one glance. This sickens me and transitioning back to that world was difficult and will never feel normal because it shouldn’t.

I miss the routine of the trail. I miss organizing everything in my pack and taking it out, and putting it back in every time. I miss the feeling of having extreme trail legs. When having 25 miles done by 4 p.m. in mountainous terrain is normal. When you can just walk up steep inclines while the normal person struggles with even slight inclines.

Commonly people suggest I make dinners over the fire to impress women. There is no time, people. I like to hike, and cold soaking allows me to make my dinner while hiking so I can hike till 7. Enjoy one hour of camp time then tuck myself in my tent. Wake up at 5 a.m., and repeat. Every day. There is no better life.

I miss my tent. I like my car, and I bought it in 2016 for $11,000, but people can touch or drive my car. No one will ever be allowed to touch, use, and breathe on my tent. It is the thing I am attached to most in the world and I will shun you forever if you try to take it! I am kidding, but also not.

I have months of memories of the kindest people in the world. People who stop and talk to you. Not spend years stalking you while uttering no kind words. People you may get to know on day four and then run into them months later.

There are a few memories I commonly go back to day after day. Such as the final push up Old Blue in Southern Maine. I believe that’s the name, I could look it up, but that’s no fun. It was the third mountain of the day during the push I did from Rangeley to Gorham. Just north of the Arm and Mahoosuc Notch. I remember having a quarter mile left of an intense rock scramble. I had already done about 24 miles that day and around 8,000 feet of elevation gain. I was about to pass out from lack of food, but I made the final push, and I can vividly remember getting to the top and having the world’s best cheese sandwich. I want that feeling back. I want the sweat dripping all over your body, and the feeling of your entire body shaking because you need food. I want that cheese sandwich back. Because it was the greatest meal of my life. I then did a legit descent down the arm. Basically, me grabbing trees as I surfed or butt slid down a 60-degree rock slide. I got to the campsite just before or after the Notch, and guess who I ran into? Someone I hadn’t seen since day four. The trail provides, people. Did I need to describe that random trail moment? Probably not. I don’t care. Y’all need to hear this.

In a few short months, I’ll be back home. To the place I belong. I don’t care if I only have one functioning ACL. I have a fire in me that will not be stopped. The only goal of mine is get to where I belong. I’m writing this while icing my left knee. Concrete hurts people. The trail is soft. Cut off my leg. I will still hike. Y’all don’t understand. Except for fellow long-distance hikers.

Feature photo courtesy of Jamie Byarlay

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Comments 1

  • Julie : Mar 4th

    LOVE this post. Your voice is real and true and resonant.


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