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[pct-l] Does anyone miss the trail?



Thanks Ryan for the description of your feelings one year after your
thru-hike in 96.  My thru-hike last year started on May 8.  Now, I carry a
reduced copy of my daily log so I can look each day and remember where on the
PCT I hiked exactly one year ago.  I now find myself day-dreaming about the
trail more than I did during the winter.  The weather has turned nice here in
Washington State and I have a strong urge to be on another long adventure.  

Without a doubt my journey on the PCT was the best thing I have ever done!
 It is natural for me to look back on those days when my mind and body were
connected to the earth, rising with the sun and falling peacefully asleep at
dusk.  My mind felt so sharp as I walked, tuning in to the natural world
during each of the 2,600+ miles!  As Ernest Chevez wrote, I often felt I was
running on "spiritual energy", expecially on the final day as I walked to the
Canadian border.  But I have discovered that no matter how hard I try, I
cannot live in the civilized world with anything that resembles my experience
on the PCT.  Perhaps this is why so many long-distance hikers have troubles
with "re-entry".  Many of us would like to thru-hike or do long sections
every year, if we could.  But the reality for most of us requires us to earn
money to pay for neccessities.  Some of us have taken on a demanding career,
purchased a home and are raising a family.  This is the balancing act that we
often find ourselves doing, as Steven Dopp so well described.  And it's very
hard to go from the trail and back to the treadmill.  I guess Steve is urging
us to adjust our expectations to accomodate the need for balance, and I have
to agree with Steve.

Still, my thru-hiking experience has changed me in many ways.  I often here
the term "thinking out of the box".  On my hike last year, that's just what I
learned to do.  My hiking style was different than ever before.  I responded
to adversity with a greater sense of calmness and acceptance.  In my life
prior to the thru-hike, I lacked the confidence to do things unconventionally
and often avoided some challenging endeavors.  Today, my way of thinking
about many things is different, and this new approach will get me back on the
trail again soon!  Each year I definately want to get out on a trail for a
trip lasting at least 4 weeks.  I hope to thru-hike the CDT in about 4 years.
 To accomplish this, I am re-shaping my professional life so I can keep a
flexible work schedule that would allow me to take extended trips.  With this
in mind, my career goals are probably more focused that they have since I
went to college over 20 years ago.  Perhaps this is the greatest gift the PCT
gave me.  We don't necessarily have to live a "quiet life of desperation" in
order to make it in this world.  

Ryan, did I read in your post that you are working for the NPS now?  That
seems like a great response to your experience in 96 on the PCT.  It would be
fun for the PCT Class of 96 to get together someday and trade stories about
what our experiences teached us and how we reshaped our lives.

Roger Carpenter
Mexico >> Canada 96

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