The power of nostalgia

My heart is about to explode out of my chest, either from the two cups of coffee I just consumed or the view of the Sierras I’m witnessing from Lone Pine, CA.

This town brings back a wealth of memories from the PCT five years ago. The pang of nostalgia is so sharp it physically hurts, and my desire to live the experience again is so fierce it’s overwhelming!

It’s bizarre how we revisit places we’ve travelled to knowing all too well the experience will never be the same. A place or location is really just a shell and setting for the events that take place and the connections we make. Without the people the places have a familiar yet distant feel, reminding me I can never go back to times past no matter how hard I try. I can’t turn back time and that can be a hard reality to swallow sometimes.

I had another major hit of nostalgia yesterday when I hiked 15 miles of the PCT from Onyx Summit to Hwy 18 that leads to Big Bear, (thanks to my dear friend and trail angel Betty, who bought me dinner and breakfast at Drakesbad Guest Ranch five years ago and helped me in countless ways).

I was giddy with excitement in the hours leading up to my arrival at the trailhead, but as the scorching heat showered me with fatigue, I remembered the PCT was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and that I’ve begun to romanticise the memories after all these years.

I also realised it was no longer my playground. The trail was now home to the thru-hikers of 2018. I was just an onlooker, a giddy thru-hiker groupie wanting to live vicariously through them or be them. I also wanted to do anything I could for them. Give them my food, drive them wherever they needed to go, or take the clothes off my back to give to them. I now understand why trail angels are so passionate. It’s because thru-hikers appreciate even the smallest gesture, like a cookie when all they have left in their food bags are plain tortillas.

When I was thru-hiking I never understood why people wanted to help me so much, because I was the fortunate one living out my dream. But now I get it. It’s one of the most satisfying things to help someone who is living out of a backpack and hiking for five months. Having the chance to hear about their experience and see their eyes light up with gratitude is priceless.

I must say my US road trip has been a bigger adventure than I expected, namely because I’ve visited more people than I expected to see, and those connections is what’s made it so special. I’ve seen friends from the trail, from back home in Australia, and one special person I’d never actually met before. This trip has reiterated the importance of connection. I LOVE driving alone for hours on end, but knowing I have someone to visit at the end of my drive makes the experience so much sweeter.

It only took me 30 years to figure this out and 5 additional years to put this knowledge into practise. But the older I get the more apparent this becomes, so I’m truly grateful for this opportunity to reconnect with so many special people on this trip!

28 thoughts on “The power of nostalgia”

  1. Hi Muk,
    So glad you’re getting a chance to revisit the PCT. It WAS a memorable trip as you so ably captured in your writing and video’s. You expressed the voice of many trail angels including me as you found giving and sharing to be a priceless part of this side of the trail. Happy you were able to experience that too.
    Feel free to drop by if you are so inclined on your way back north, I’m between Seattle and the PCT.
    Driving is so much faster isn’t it?

    1. Haha, yes driving is insanely fast compared to walking! Although with my aircon not really working in the heat of the day today, even 30 miles felt like it took forever on the highway! I’m pretty squeezed for time on my way back now but I really hope to do this again before another 5 years go past. I’ve missed seeing so many people I would have loved to reconnect with including you!!

  2. All of your writings have stoked my emotions, to varying degrees, but
    this is the most moving yet. And the most uplifting. Enjoy this new adventure–it’s wonderful to follow, even from 3000 miles.
    Sorry that Joan and I will miss you. We will be in Seattle in late
    August, traveling south to Stockton, CA to visit Joan’s aunt.

    1. Dave! So good to hear from you! I was asking Don and Donna about you and said we must get you, Joan and my parents to their house next year for a reunion! Seeing them again was absolutely phenomenal. They are like family to me. Enjoy your travels in August and I hope to see you next year!! 🙂

  3. A sensational post and you weren’t the only one giddy with excitement as the video rolled through your return to the PCT. It could have been otherwise but you have it and life in such good perspective. Great to see a response from Dave G and know he’s been following and how good was it to put you in touch with Don and Donna. Hope we could reconnect with Dave and Joan as you have with the trail.

    1. Thanks for your lovely words Dadda! What an experience this has been. It’s exceeded all my expectations on a deeply emotional level. Love you! Xx

  4. Ahhh, now I see (and can read about) the bigger picture of what I may have been a part of had the two of us connecting last weekend worked out….the greatest being a reunion of you speaking to students in a school setting once again. Keep working toward what I’ve always encouraged you to do; one day we’ll also get you another audience of students…PCT Part 2 Revisited!! Isn’t that view from Lone Pine amazing?? It is a town that was a part of my youth & one I still love.
    Thank you for thinking of me and hoping to visit once again. Safe and wonderful travels to you, 💛💛

    1. Ah Judi, circumstances don’t always allow us to live out life to perfection… but other than missing you and a few others, this trip has got very close. I WILL see you again soon I’m sure, and I look forward to the chance to speak to your schools again – when the timing is right. Much 💜

  5. The trail will always be there for you. The hiker community that helped shape your wonderful experience and the lenses through which you revisit the past may have changed; however, despite these changes, the trail will always provide and warmly embrace the returning visitor as a mother embraces a child. Thanks so much for sharing your inspirational posts through thick and thin. Best Regards, Marc

  6. Gods, this road trip sounds like something I’d do. Recalling places, faces, and events from times gone…but oh so not forgotten. You are a very deep well. It is nice to know others take the time to reflect on their journey through life. So many it seems, don’t take the time to listen to the echoes they have created. Too easy to be to busy doing, and living they never stop to look back. Your road trip is a journey as important as any you have taken. Thanks, for reminding me I need to do the same….Gromit

    1. Gromit I tell you. This trip has truly shocked me. I didn’t realise the impact these reconnections would have on me. The TA really taught me that happiness comes from the people we share the experience with. I sometimes forget that the same lessons apply to life off trail too! 🙂

    2. Wow…I love that line about listening to the echos we create ! Can I use that in a new song…I feel one coming on!
      Love to use it…with your permission.

      From Oregon Coast

      1. Please use them, they seemed’d be great to think the words would be used in a song 🙂

  7. Hi darling, Wow that video on the PCT was amazing and brought me back to five years ago when I would rush to the computer to see if your blog was there. You would walk there and talk about your surroundings and feelings you had. The excitement and emotions you felt, which were this time to see on your face and your babbling away. How wonderful to experience this again probably in a different way. To feel, what kind of impact, the people you met, have made on your life. How wonderful to be able to rekindle with some of them again. This is what love is all about, you give and you will receive. You have gone confidently in the directions of your dreams and see what life has given you.
    Go my butterfly and fully enjoy life.
    Love you, Mutti xx

    1. Thanks for your beautiful poetic words Mutti! It was so exciting to set foot on that magical pathway again, and it’s been amazing to reconnect with so many of the angels who helped me during my experience 5 years ago. They are like one big extended family I will always have such a strong connection to. Thank you for always supporting my direction and my dreams! Can’t wait to see you in Holland soon!!! So much love 💕 xxx

  8. Dear Muk,
    Your words , as beautiful and inspiring as they usually are, are outshinned this time by your genuin smile in these photos of your reunion with the PCT. Your heart and love for this place is absolutley evident. (can you call a 2600+ miles trail a place?)

    Anyway…It is such a joy to share your joy. I am also glad for your awareness and chance to experience the “other side”. Those of us who have followed your explotes do live through your actions.

    The best part is that YOU incourage each of us to get out and do something…anything…find OUR OWN TRAIL !

    I can’t wait to hear more.

    From Oregon Coast
    Lyndella Sings

    1. Lyndella!! Thank you for your kind and generous words! I still feel buzzed from being back on the trail. It’s not just a place, it’s a home. A place that I can go back to and feel an instant belonging. There’s a magic to that pathway I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to describe except through my smile! Much love to you and wishing you many great adventures this year on your own ‘trails’! Xx

  9. So great your taking the time to revisit the PCT and hook up with friends. While we only met briefly up by Buck Lakes it was a day we won’t forget. If you need anything when you hit Truckee let us know, a ride to a trail head a place to spend the night, if we are in town. The Tramper Ladies are heading up to Shasta area to day hike some PCT sections north of Castle Crags June 9th- June 15th if your up there then let us know. Love following all your amazing adventures , Keep on trucking !!!
    Tramper Lady Ann

    1. Oh my goodness Ann so good to hear from you!! I will definitely hit you up if I ever come through Truckee and I wish I could have joined you ladies in Shasta. That would have been a blast!! I wish you all an amazing hike and a magnificent year and thank you again for continuing to follow me. It means a lot!! Muk 🙂

  10. Loved the video. It had me smiling all the way through it. It almost brought a tear to my eye. I have been following your exploits since your PCT journey and am now in the planning stages of my own PCT thru-hike in 2020. Just watching your video put me in that place along with you. Your excitement is overwhelming. Keep trekking on. – Kemo

    1. Thank you Kemo! I’m soooo excited for your journey in 2020!! If you’re keeping a blog or Instagram please share it with us before your departure!! Happy trails! 🙂

    1. Hey you guys!! Oh my gosh I wish I could have bumped into you folks on the trail! I seriously found it hard to settle for 15 miles, but I’m grateful to have had the chance to get back out there. I hope you have a magical time heading out from Chester and I hope to bump into you both on my next reunion in the States and on the trail – whenever that may be! With 💜, Muk x

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