I went on a hike the other evening and felt comfort as the darkness settled around me. Picking my way down the trail in the dusk brought me a peace that I have found hard to come by now that I am off the trail. It’s been almost a month since I stepped off the trail and I am unfortunately 100% back in the real world.
The first few days were the toughest. Sitting in a house and being shuttled tourist style around British Columbia should have been wonderful but instead it was just shocking. On the drive from Manning Park after an hour in a cramped car I found myself dizzy and hyperventilating in the small space. I've never had trouble with car sickness or any kind of culture shock, but then again I've never been away from my life for 4 ½ months. I had pretty much discounted any type of culture shock, brushing it off and thinking it just sounded dramatic. But I fell into that one head first, big groups, constant noise and the simple lack of walking was overwhelming for me. It was exciting having things like kitchens, grocery stores and water. And I’m not going to lie, my body was pretty happy for the rest. But I miss the trail.
The simplicity of waking up every morning and knowing that all you have to do is walk is gone. Everywhere I turn I am forced to make decisions; I am having a surprisingly hard time with this. Restaurant menus and grocery stores offer more choices than I can handle and let’s not even get into the whole life/career decision thing. If I can’t pick what I want for lunch I think I’m going to have a bit of trouble planning the next year or two of my career.
The last miles into Manning Park I spent daydreaming about what’s next. The Continental Divide Trail draws me; it’s basically a burlier version of the PCT. It follows the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five states — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. Then there is the Appalachian Trail over on the east coast running from Georgia to Maine, plus a million other less official adventures I've come up with. But realistically I have no idea, the stability of homes and jobs are awfully nice. Being back and working I can see how easy it will be to slowly slip back into couch potato working land. I've met a few thru hikers who've struggled with post trail depression and I don’t want to fall into that trap. Hopefully day hikes and bike rides can keep me sane, I think it’s time for me to pick up a few new hobbies… The trail itself already seems like a distant memory. A great memory, but in a way it feels like it didn't even happen.
Well enough of my pity party, I got to spend a season hiking from Mexico to Canada, what a fantastic journey. If you are considering it go for it, section, thru, day hike. Whatever makes you happy but get out onto the trail, it’s a magical place.