I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face having just watched the video of my arrival at the Northern Terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m not sure what made me do it. I was scrolling through the videos from that final treacherous day, finding it hard to believe that the person walking through the snow was actually me. Maybe it’s because I spoke to Fuller tonight and he mentioned that final thrilling day, and just how frightening those videos were. I guess I had to see them again for myself, which naturally brought back so many emotions and encouraged me to go the whole hog and watch the one I knew would bring a tear to my eye.
Speaking to Fuller brought back the reality of the trail. We both agreed that sometimes it’s hard to believe it really happened, that we did in fact walk from Mexico to Canada. We’ve both reached a point where it’s hard to talk about now. I think I’m in the process of filing away the memories and emotions, and each time I bring them up, I need to repack them neatly away again. Fuller came up with a good analogy about the trail being a little like an ex-lover. The experiences you share with the trail will never be known or understood by other people and it will forever hold a place in your heart.
I’ve obviously had too much solo time on my hands today because I was also reading some of the notes I wrote on my return to Sydney before I started this new blog. I definitely hit a few low points in those first few days readjusting to ‘home’ life again. I remember many people encouraging me to write about ‘life after the trail’. I think this is a topic that will continue to resurface for me and every other thru-hiker as the post-trail experience runs its course. Although the piece below sounds incredibly depressing, re-reading it made me feel it was worthwhile to share so that others feeling a bit of the same will realise you’re not alone:
I feel like I’m suffocating. I have an incredible knot in my stomach knowing that my life will never be the same. I will never again be preparing to embark on the most exciting adventure of my life. I’ve just lived it. From extraordinary to ordinary. I’m short of breath. The physical effects of this feeling of loss are breathtaking. The trail is no longer a looming mystery filled with longing and excitement. The story is complete, and I must find a new beginning without repeating the past. How can I top that? Haven’t I had enough excitement for one year? Shouldn’t I be satisfied and fall back into society’s groove like all the other players? I’m sliding down a plughole into the dark tunnel of my own thoughts. Flashbacks of a time that was haunt me. Even the bad feels good. I want it back, I wish it wasn’t over. I’m not ready to move on. The highs and lows that were magnified on the trail have followed me into this world. I want to crawl up and sleep, or escape into the wilderness.
The roller coaster of emotions has certainly steadied from that day. I did struggle a lot getting back in the groove of this reality, but continuing to move forward and staying active has definitely been the key.