Coming back into society was really the hardest part about hiking for so long. When you're hiking for months and months, you get into such a rhythm, there aren't that many things to do besides keep walking. You get up, do the do, make some coffee and breakfast, get packed up, then early breaks/snacks, lunch, more breaks and snacks, cooking and eating a hot meal, a few more miles, and finally, setting up camp to sleep. Repeat with various trail conditions and side journeys.
With people finishing their hikes about now, I thought I'd talk a bit about how difficult it was for me to transition back to "where the people are". I knew it was going to be quite the transitionary period. I didn't look for a job for maybe two months because everything was overwhelming. Even just going on a computer put me out. Granted, my computer was 7 years old and not doing so hot, but all the ads and expectations to suddenly get used to again. To me, money is a catalyst to get you what you desire, so many people don't seem to really know what they want. Once I got a job, I knew I was going to try the PCT again, but with someone from the southern terminus; maybe we would be able to do the whole thing together (not the case, in the end). So, I was a maid for a few months. I then hiked during the pandemic, but that's another story altogether.
You really have to have a good support system to help you make sense of everything. Everything, at least to me, became so confusing and absorbed all my energy. Why would anyone want to live in a city? Suddenly there are a billion advertisements a day. I had to deal with minimal ads when I went into small towns, you know, once a week or so. Seattle is huge! While the steep hills that make up most of the sidewalks help make it feel a little wild, there is an enormous amount going on. From people yelling, to billboards, it just became too loud for me. Same thing for any type of crowd., I want nothing to do with crowds if I'm by myself. If a friend is with me, I have more tolerance being surrounded by people. I'm sure the pandemic setting that we live in doesn't help with that feeling either.
It's been over a year since I got back from my last long distance hike, and I am only now feeling comfortable driving to the city and seeing my best friend, my true soulmate; Ethan.
Most recently, we went to Pikes Place Market to have coffee and crumpets! It's one of those places that you see everyone taking pictures of the big sign, very crowded. We found a lovely little spot looking out the window with the sun hitting us. It was absolutely incredible and exactly the way I wanted to celebrate the book being published with him!
I don't think I would have been doing as well as I am without my support system when I returned. I think I would have literally sold everything and hiked until I couldn't anymore when I was told about a divorce. But I am glad I tried to get settled here at home, living back with my mom and sisters; I am happy here. I am currently looking at getting a new car to get to new adventures in! My current car isn't the most reliable to be taking to trailheads, especially now that fall will bring the rain and ice to the mountain roads. I am getting my life to a point I want it to be, and that has been the most difficult thing I've ever done. But then again, I don't really believe in easy for the most part.
Adjusting isn't simple, but I would not change how my life is now. Putting in the work to get what you want is what trail has truly taught me. Having a group of people who want the best for you is really important, on and off trail. Though, I don't really have trail friends near me (unfortunately), so I have had to rely on my friends a lot and had to find new friends, since my closest friend is still quite far. But I am confident in what I am doing. I now have this blog and my book to help me feel close to what I love most, so don't discount that either.
My final pieces of advise; keep close to your support system, no matter where you are on your adventure, and get into a project, either one to help you feel close to your journey, or something to help you transition back into the fast pace of the concrete jungle! It's important to keep your mind sane, so take it slow at first if you need to. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.
Congratulations to all those who are finishing up their hikes, whether you've made it all the way or 100 miles, I am so proud of you! You won't be the same person you started as, so don't try to go back to that person, you have to find a way to come into who you are now inside this crazy world full of concrete. Good luck!