We Have Unfinished Business

I’m missing something…

What is this something? Did I not learn my lesson from hiking the Appalachian Trail?

Speaking of which… I can’t even begin to fumble through my memories and emotions to recollect the original reason why I decided to hike this trail in the first place.

I saw a post on Instagram today from a thru-hiker I met briefly on the AT in 2022. She has been discussing a lot of critical thoughts on being a woman and a person of color on the AT. Through this, she mentioned that she felt that she had “unfinished business” on trail.

A tramily (trail family) member of mine has also mentioned not “learning her lesson” that she set out to seek during her hike.

There’s a pattern here. It’s unnerving. It’s unexplainable. How can one go on this challenging grand adventure and still come out feeling empty-handed?

Touching the Katahdin sign changed me forever. There is no doubt about that. However, as I slid down the rocks of the Abol trail down to Katahdin Springs campground, a shadow of thought sat in the back of my head. My flight home was booked, I would say goodbye to some of the most important people I have ever met, and I would sit in a hostel for days hoping that I was just vortexed in town and having a good time, but the reality of what was truly coming felt sour.

I would say goodbye to an experience that felt real and powerful. A short snippet of my life in which I felt like myself. This was the only time in my life where Anna and Blossom merged together as one entity. As much as I yearned to keep the feeling and power of my trail name “Blossom” around, she slowly slipped away in the weeks to come.

Many of us have worked so hard to continue the identity of who we were on trail. Many succeed and find peace back in normal life. But I would argue that most of us haven’t felt like ourselves since Katahdin.

I argue that those of us that have struggled with our identity and purpose post-trail are the ones that got the most out of the experience. We realize that life shouldn’t be wasted in the matrix of society, but instead in the straightforward and undisturbed nature of the wilderness. But since we are forced to succumb to capitalism and work, we mentally try to fight the pattern of the matrix while simultaneously being forced to adjust back to it. I would also argue that those of us feeling this way are probably more likely to pack up our stuff and go out to hike another 2,000+ mile trail again in the future.

So… All of you that didn’t learn your lesson… What trail is next for you?

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Comments 3

  • Lyla Harrod : Mar 1st

    I feel this. The prospect of “plugging back in to the matrix” is scary. I think for me, I’d ideally find a way to subsist without having to wind up back in a 9 to 5 desk job, it’s all about what comforts/assurances/safety are you willing and able to forgo for the freedom.

  • Mary Leavines : Mar 5th

    Awesome writing as always. Things have gotten easier to acclimate to as time has passed, but there’s definitely a weird sense that this – “real” life – is temporary. The “real” real life is on trail. I’m biding my time. ?


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