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[pct-l] Return to Civilization
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* by our guest Lara Thompson <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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I haven't hiked the PCT yet, but I participated in a two month wilderness study program while I was at UC Berkeley. I had an unexpectedly difficult return to home, becoming depressed and overwhelmed. I felt completely disconnected from the natural world yet modern society felt very surreal and almost scary to enter back into. So where did I fit in if I wasn't on the trail or immersed in modern life? I hid out in quiet places trying to balance time walking outdoors and time reconnecting with friends and family one at a time. Most of my friends and family could not relate to the experiences I tried to describe to them although they were kind to try.
I found some reading which helped me feel like I could reconnect better to the modern world without fear of losing the sense of the overall impact of my journey. Topics covering ecopsychology and ecological psychology struck a chord and they discuss the importance of the wilderness and human experience. Some of the concepts can be very soft, but many of them site psychological studies to better illustrate ideas (this is good if you like a little more science in your science). You might check out http://isis.csuhayward.edu/ALSS/ECO/0996/index.html for starters. There is a recommended reading list and some information on ecopsychology.
Ronald Moak's comment (10/19) that a journey has three stages rings a bell. You might find more on that in studies done on expedition teams such as those climbing Mt. Everest. Sports psychology might also cover this in some way. I'm not trying to imply that anyone's feelings upon return from a journey can be analyzed and neatly described in a scientific psychology journal. I just offer a way that allowed me to feel reassured that I was not alone in my thoughts and feelings about my journey even when everyone around me just wanted me to hurry back to my "normal" self.
Greg Hummel's entry (10/19) echoes my thoughts very closely on the subject of the long-term importance and impact of a wilderness journey. Talking with other hikers is also important in adapting to a life back from the trail.
Just some thoughts,
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