Here I am. Back in my blog, taking a break from writing a different blog entry! I’ve been slowly plugging away at the questions you all sent into me – thank you for so many good ones! And sorry it’s taking so long! I’m trying to put a lot of thought into them and answer them as meaningful and best I can. I still look forward to doing a gear review, too… so you’ll probably see the Q&A, as well as the gear review being posted in a couple of big chunks.
For now, I just wanted to get on here and write. It’s been a while, and I miss it greatly. I really enjoyed blogging throughout the hike, and I’m finding that I miss having something interesting to write about every day, and I really miss having so many great things to take photos of every day. I took an 8-mile hike on some trails near my parent’s house the other day, and even though it rained on me, I enjoyed finding some fun things to photograph. I saw some wildlife, too! I took a small path down to the river, and as I glanced up river at the few autumn colors hanging on along the river bank, I heard this strange noise to my left. It was like a muffled snort. When I turned to look, there were three otters popping their heads up out of the river! It was so cute! One would pop up and snort, then disappear. Another would pop up, snort, then another, and those two would disappear just as the first one would pop back up. This continued as they floated with the current down river until I couldn’t see them any more. I couldn’t help but just watch and giggle until they faded out of view. Then, just when I couldn’t see them any more, I turned to look back up river, and a giant bald eagle swooped down and circled the river, then flew back up and gracefully hovered with giant, cupped wings above a white pine tree and landed and stood regally, still, scanning the river. It felt so good to be back in the woods! I later saw a grouse that made my heart skip a beat (as always!), three deer and an owl! One of the deer I saw loped off through the woods with a loud “HUFF,” snorting each time she landed. When I first saw the owl, I thought it was a turkey because it was such a large bird flying, but when it didn’t make a noise through the trees I knew it couldn’t be a turkey because of how they can be so loud and uncoordinated when flying! I snuck up the trail a little quieter and watched the trees, and soon it took off from a different branch and silently glided to another tree just up the trail. The next time I saw it I got a better look at its body – large and full with a huge wing span. It was definitley an owl! What a treat! I hiked on in the rain, and laughed thinking about how much it reminded me of the weather I experienced in Oregon and Washington. It was even the right temperature, in the low 40’s… but I was dressed perfectly for the conditions and hiked happily knowing I was going to be able to put dry clothes on as soon as I got to the car.
One of the highlights from this little hike was finding a trail register at the trailhead. I opened the lid and found a notebook and pencils inside. There were a few entries, mostly from last winter during the cross-country ski season, but there were a few recent ones. I picked a pencil that was sharpened enough to write with and wrote, “CRUSH IT! Toots Magoots (PCT 2013).” Ahhh. That kind of felt like scratching a really persistent itch. It was something really small, but it just felt good…
I’ve been taking jogs with my mom in the mornings when I’m at their house, I took a run with my sister-in-law, Jessica, an 8-mile walk to Flambeau Forest Inn where I met some family for a delicious chicken dinner special, and even walked the 12 miles into town to meet up with Adam, who was already there after spending some time with one of his friends. Today Adam and I walked across town to take care of some errands, too. I’m hoping to just do something each day and slowly let my metabolism level out. I think. I really don’t have any idea how it works, but I do know I feel much better when I get out and do something – do anything. I sure miss the trail, though. I had a little epiphany thinking about what I missed most about thru-hiking. When I think about diet, I always just figured, “Ah, I miss being able to eat whatever I want in whatever quantities I want without gaining weight.” But what it is that I actually miss is not obsessing about it. It’s not really about eating what I want and tons of it, but just not having to worry about it. I have a history of being overweight, and so it’s pretty easy for me to put it back on, and I always have to be careful to not let that happen. The weight I am at right now, even after putting on a few pounds already, post-hike, is where I am really comfortable. But to stay here isn’t going to be an easy chore. I’ll have to actively get out and exercise every day and eat healthier, and less. It’s just an adjustment going from the freedom of not having to worry about it – a totally stress-free diet – to having to keep track in my mind of all I’ve eaten and what I’ve done… “can I have another beer? Sure… I went for a run today…”
Besides getting out to exercise to keep my mind clear and my body happy, I’ve been spending a lot of time with family. I’ve been able to have a few great mornings with my mom and dad, sitting around in their living room drinking coffee and slowly waking up, I’ve spent some time with Adam, as well as his family. We spend a little time with his sister Melissa before she and her family left for vacation in Florida, and we were able to spend some time with his mom and other sister, Jessica and her two kids, Dean and Josie. Josie is only about 8 months old, and it was the first time I met her, and what a cutie! We are currently staying in the “Belle house,” which is a small house that Adam’s mom owns, and it’s been really nice. Yesterday we visited Adam’s dad and his wife, Dorrie, at their house for the Packer game. That was relaxing and fun, too. And later this week Adam’s friend is getting married, so we’ll be going to a wedding, too! Needless to say, it’s been busy, but it’s been fun! I have yet to get to Oshkosh to visit my friends!! I hope after the wedding and Halloween, and after things settle down a bit more, we’ll get our butts down there! I’m antsy to see everyone I haven’t seen yet!
As for little things readjusting to this “other world,” not as much is standing out from day to day. However, I did think about something today – hygiene. I’m staying a lot cleaner than I did while I was out hiking, obviously. I have access to running water, a toilet, a sink, a shower, and a washer and dryer. As much as I love taking a nice, hot shower though, it almost feels like overkill to take a shower every single day like I used to. Do I really need to shower every day? Then there’s all these smelly shampoos and conditioners. Should I find something that smells pretty? Do I really need conditioner? What about special soaps? I could get a special soap for my hair, my body, my face… and there’s so many choices. How about deodorant? I haven’t worn deodorant without any noticeable super-stink resulting from it for over six months. It’s one less thing I need to spend money on. Brushing my teeth is still regularly twice per day, and I bought new floss today to get back into that routine. I trimmed my fingernails and toenails for the first time since being back. Make-up is an easy one… I just don’t wear it any more. I stopped wearing make-up over a year before I left for the hike. I don’t miss it much at all. How about shaving? Do I need to buy a fancy razor, do I need to shave every day, and do I need a pretty-smelling lotion? There’s just so much. They all seem like simple little things, but when I walk into a store and see the plethora of scents, styles and designs of products on the shelves, I get a little overwhelmed. There were about five different types of flossers for me to choose from today. I finally just grabbed one and threw it in the basket. “Whatever, it’ll work just fine.” It’s just so different on the trail, where your first and most important concern is, “where’s the next water source and how much do I need to carry to get me there?” Keeping my hair smelling pretty, or my pits shaved smooth wasn’t even on my radar. At all. I’m back in society and have to act appropriately, I suppose… I’d like to be a rebel and fight to stay hiker trash every day, but that’s where this transition is happening. Yes, I’m proud to be considered hiker trash – it’s an endearing term in the thru-hiking community, seriously. But I guess I’ll take advantage of a few things so I can blend in with society at least a little bit, if only so that my friends and family won’t be uncomfortable or embarrassed to be around me! I don’t want to stink up the room if I have the resources not to! Haha! But in all seriousness, it’s going pretty well so far. Some days I find decisions to be harder than others, but I’m getting back into it. And I’m trying not to fight it. Well… I’m kind of trying not to fight it while I’m trying not to let go, too.
I suppose… it’s a fun ride! As soon as I get a handle on this transition, I’ll have my hands at the “10 and 2” of a giant semi truck’s steering wheel, working my way into the next adventure. I’ll be sure to post a picture of that when it first happens!
Tonight I love feeling healthy. I managed to somehow aquire a stupid cold sore, and it just makes me happy for all the times when I don’t have one. They’re such a pain!