I’m not really sure how to explain it, but it seems as though I’m suffering from the late onset of post-hike roller-coaster emotions. I suppose I’ve been on a crazy high since getting home, and I also suppose I knew that it would eventually fade a little. I wish it didn’t have to. It was so exciting to see everyone when I first got back, and I was so determined to keep hiking in my life as much as I could since I’m not working for a few months. I could stay in shape, stay in touch, keep the memories fresh and stay strong mentally. However, over the past few days I’ve felt a slight depressive knot kind of grow inside of me, and it’s clouding my motivation and bringing me down from that awesome high I’ve been on since last March. It is fading, dangit, and that’s kind of a bummer.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’ve got a lot of cool stuff to look forward to and I haven’t forgotten that, but it’s still tough to push though with these bugs that eat away at me on a day-to-day basis. One of the biggest things that is certainly not helping is my being so hard on myself. I need to stop. What happens is I start telling myself that I should be stronger after enduring a 6-month thru-hike. I should be so mentally strong that I can take on anything thrown at me and bat it away with a flick of my finger and a smirk on my face. I was angry at myself for a couple of days because I struggled to get my buns outside for a run or a hike. Since I’m not working yet, I’ve got several days of no plans strung in a row. Shouldn’t I want to just be outside, doing as much as I can as often as I can? Shouldn’t I be hanging on to my hiker’s high as long as I can? How could this have faded so quickly? Wait a second… don’t I really LOVE to hike? To be outside? What the heck is wrong with me? Something has got to be wrong… but what is it?
Well, maybe nothing. Maybe I just need to stop being so hard on myself, or maybe I can try to harness some of this anger and use it to my advantage. Maybe I can get stubborn. I’m not exactly sure what I might do with it yet, but for today I will try to deal with these crazy emotions by throwing it all out here, in words, while trying to sort it out instead of letting it stew.
To my family and friends at home, please don’t take offense to this, because I would be a total mess if it weren’t for you and your company, but I’m lonely. I miss my trail family. I miss having people around me that understand the trail me. All of us as thru-hikers have been asked why we wanted to thru-hike, and most of us can’t really put our finger on it, or have a hard time coming up with an explanation that feels satisfactory. It’s like there just aren’t words to answer it, but when we’re out on that trail together, we just know. It’s an unspoken understanding, and I think that’s a big part of what turned us into such a special family. We were all brought together on this particular trail at a particular time in our lives, all with a common goal, and together for six straight months we shared smiles, struggles, laughter, pain, and genuine happiness throughout it all.
I’m trying so hard to sort through these feelings, and explain through words how I’m feeling and what it’s like to miss the great adventure I’m still coming down from, but it can’t really be described. But I can guarantee you that if I were sitting down with any of the people I hiked with this year, all it would take is a certain look, and they would respond with a confident, “I get it.” It’s just hard to explain. Pretty soon my emotions will level out and I will feel like I blend back in with regular society. The highlights from my PCT hike will be placed in a special place in my heart and mind to recall whenever I need a smile, and I can continue forward into my next adventure… all the while secretly wondering when I might be able to hike another long hike. It’s going to be a constant thought, forever, even though I might not talk about it. It’ll always be there.
I’m sure a lucky girl. I have all of these confusing feelings because of something really special. It’s because of a very unique experience filled with many amazing people, and I am so incredibly lucky to have all of that in my life. Maybe this loneliness isn’t a bad thing, but instead, maybe it’s something to feel happy about. Maybe it’s just a way to always remember and work towards staying in touch with those that I am so lonely for.
It does help to write about it and try to organize some of my feelings, so if you’re still reading, thanks for hanging in there with me! Now I’m going to work on not forgetting or ignoring any of it, but kind of riding it along until things level out. Next time I’ll be able to talk a little more about the fun stuff I’ve been doing and focus on some of the things I’m looking so forward to! Yup, I’m gonna take these emotional struggles, bat them away with that flick of my finger and a quirky smile on my face. I can still do that, right?
Tonight I love blue sky. It’s been hiding out most of the time since I’ve been home, but when it shows itself, I’m sure to look up and feel thankful that it’s there. In fact, it’s there right now. I think I’ll go for a run.