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Former Admin
09-21-2002, 09:19
Comments, concerns, issues, experiences, about adjusting to life after a thru-hike.

Singletrack
09-21-2002, 12:12
Originally posted by admin
Comments, concerns, issues, experiences, about adjusting to life after a thru-hike. It was definitely difficult adjusting for me, after my 2000 Thru Hike. Previous to 2000, I had hiked from Springer to Harpers Ferry, came home, and blended back into the common life with no effects. But it was completely different after 2000. It seemed that life was too busy, so many different colors, and noises to get use to again. No one was interested in my hike, or willing to talk to me about it. Although friends did notice a change in me. Some of the comments were that I was alot quieter, more subdued, a completley different person. I have changed. Some things that I really cared about before the hike, are unimportant to me now, money, career, relationsips. I am alot happier now. I think anyone that has Thru Hiked the AT will agree with me. Try it you will like it!

Jumpstart
09-25-2002, 11:30
I'm glad someone posted this thread! We have been back for about 6 weeks now and I am just finally starting to feel okay and normal, again. Everyone mentions this "downtime" that hits you when your hike is over, and I had figured it'd be a few days and I could shake it off, but I went into almost complete recluse mode...I didn't want to see friends or family or talk to anyone about my hike, people would ask questions and then not really care about the answers, just in a "well I guess I should ask about their hike" sort of way... I didn't find it difficult to adjust to "real world"...I had no problems driving, no trouble immediatley visiting the mall to buy new jeans to fit my 20 pound weight loss, etc...but I had trouble dealing with the amount of people I ran into everyday. I couldn't beleive how many people, how much STUFF was just there and at my instant disposal. It still blows my mind. As for the "not wanting to work thing", I came back with the almost total opposite attitude, I decided right away to enroll in classes for Master's Degree, and my husband has been looking for work since the day we finished, we are both so bored out of our minds that we can't wait to get back to work! And I know this defintley isn't the "PC" attitude of the thru-hiker, but I also couldn't wait to immerse mylsef in the material goods of everyday life. All I wanted to do when I got back was eat, drive my car, and shop for the luxuries I couldn't have on the trail. I want a bigger TV, a more comfortable mattress, better car-camping gear, a newer, better road bike. Funny how so many people react so differently....

Pedaling Fool
12-11-2008, 12:00
Itís been nearly 3 years and I canít shake my M&M fetish. Before my 2006 hike I could not stand plain M&Ms, if I ate M&Ms they had to be the peanut or almond M&Ms. Since my hike I only want plain M&Ms and I can go through a pound in under an hour.

Rockhound
12-11-2008, 12:04
why adjust? you made it. you escaped the rat race for 1/2 a year. flip flop and keep going.

Mags
12-11-2008, 15:34
My standard post on this issue. Rather than post-hike adjustment, I tend to think of pre-hiked adjustment....

http://www.pmags.com/joomla/index.php/Outdoor-Writings/post-trail.html

Footslogger
12-11-2008, 15:58
I thought at first the heart attack last March would make it easier to move on and forget about the trail ...but it only made it worse.

So ...if anyone is considering a heart attack - - you can forget it.

'Slogger

ZEKE #2
12-11-2008, 16:55
Oh, this thread is so special. I attempted a thru this year and had to get off after 700 miles with sever shin splints. I sank into a deep depression, thinking that I had failed; so deep that I couldn't see the forest for the tree.

And people at my employment noticed a change in me; I found that stressful situations were difficult for me to handle. I wasn't the same person and there were those that didn't appreciate the change, which included by boss.

Although, my grandson (11) repeats stories that I have told him about the trail. He is my saving grace.

It's been five months and I am first finding the joy in my adventure; looking at pictures and creating my scrap book. I can close my eyes and remember everything about a particular day.

I will return, someday. I have finally accepted that I am a section hiker and that's just fine with me (almost)

Grampie
12-11-2008, 17:09
I think that anyone who finishes a thru-hike has to make some sort of adjustments, after getting back to the real world. Six months of living life on the trail has to make a person change. The experience is somewhat like attend college or going into the military. You have to adopt your life style to your new way of life.
It's been six years since I finished. I think of the AT and my hike often. It used to be every day but now it's only every other day or so.:sun

phenimore
12-11-2008, 17:35
My standard post on this issue. Rather than post-hike adjustment, I tend to think of pre-hiked adjustment....

http://www.pmags.com/joomla/index.php/Outdoor-Writings/post-trail.html

Mags, great article, it's poignant and a little scary, but immediately made me feel connected to you in some other level. I'm planning my first thru, my first hike actually, for this summer. I'm battling a lot a head vs. heart issues, but a few years ago I decided to trust my gut and it is leading me to Katahdin. I've had the idea for a long time, but at the age of thirty finally have the spirit to follow it. I'm worried about not knowing what I'm doing or where I'm going, but it's exhilirating to live in the moment and that's what I'm seeking.

The thing that brings me comfort is the thing I would tell you: Pursue excellence in everything. See you on the trail.

Mags
12-11-2008, 19:56
The thing that brings me comfort is the thing I would tell you: Pursue excellence in everything. See you on the trail.

Thanks for the kind words.

That's what I am trying to do, believe me. Follow my passion. I am stuck deep in Dilbert Land, but hope escape by 2010..PERMANENTLY. :)

Best of luck in your journey!

buff_jeff
12-11-2008, 20:06
, but hope escape by 2010..PERMANENTLY. :)

Best of luck in your journey!

Uh, oh, got some big things in the works, eh? Good luck! I can only hope to one day escape permanently.

I only got into backpacking 2 years ago and my longest hike was Springer to Harper's Ferry, so I don't have the perspective that some people have, but it definitely has changed my outlook on life. I oftentimes think that this hobby has "ruined" me. I had a hard time adjusting to the college atmosphere this semester and my grades have suffered tremendously as a result. I think I'm over that now, though...I hope, going into next semester. I think about hiking everyday and I don't expect that to change. I just need to work on finding balance in my life.

buff_jeff
12-11-2008, 21:52
I also think one of the hardest aspects of it all is not having anyone to talk to about it. My roommates think I'm retarded and I don't even bother bringing it up anymore and I haven't met a single person genuinely interested.

Lone Wolf
12-11-2008, 21:55
it's just walkin'. nothin' to adjust to. try being a 20 year old coming back after war having seen and done some atrocious ****.

Mags
12-11-2008, 22:03
it's just walkin'. nothin' to adjust to. try being a 20 year old coming back after war having seen and done some atrocious
****.


Doing the AT showed me a much different lifestyle than my conservative, very blue-collar, upbringing. If it wasn't for the AT, I'd still be in RI doing what everyone else in my family is doing. It was the watershed moment in my life. For better or worse, my life is the way it is now from doing the AT.

Plus, when I came back from the AT, I found out my parents were divorced, the family home had been sold and the dog was even put to sleep for good measure. All in a 5 mo period.

Not anything like fighting a war. but I did learn that my entire world was turned upside-down. Perhaps I should have bucked up more, but coming off the trail was a rather hard experience for me.

Finally, have you fought a war LW?

My brother was over in Iraq and my essay helped him he said.

I can't fathom what he saw as a medic in Baghdad. But we can relate to the sense that our worlds were turned upside down.

Or so he said.

I'll take my brother's word, a veteran and someone I am close to, over yours.

Serial 07
12-11-2008, 22:15
I thought at first the heart attack last March would make it easier to move on and forget about the trail ...but it only made it worse.

So ...if anyone is considering a heart attack - - you can forget it.

'Slogger

LOL...people in my break room gave me a look i laughed so hard...i'll stick to an atery clogged-free lifestyle...


Mags, great article, it's poignant and a little scary, but immediately made me feel connected to you in some other level. I'm planning my first thru, my first hike actually, for this summer. I'm battling a lot a head vs. heart issues, but a few years ago I decided to trust my gut and it is leading me to Katahdin. I've had the idea for a long time, but at the age of thirty finally have the spirit to follow it. I'm worried about not knowing what I'm doing or where I'm going, but it's exhilirating to live in the moment and that's what I'm seeking.

The thing that brings me comfort is the thing I would tell you: Pursue excellence in everything. See you on the trail.

what a great position to be in...pre-hike...the jitters...the unknown...i didn't read white blaze before i left, so i was as ignorant as they come...learning by fire was a great experience, and now i'm hooked...addicted...which ever is stronger...


Uh, oh, got some big things in the works, eh? Good luck! I can only hope to one day escape permanently.

I only got into backpacking 2 years ago and my longest hike was Springer to Harper's Ferry, so I don't have the perspective that some people have, but it definitely has changed my outlook on life. I oftentimes think that this hobby has "ruined" me. I had a hard time adjusting to the college atmosphere this semester and my grades have suffered tremendously as a result. I think I'm over that now, though...I hope, going into next semester. I think about hiking everyday and I don't expect that to change. I just need to work on finding balance in my life.

Be thankful to have learned this early in life...and keep it...our society (especially) has us following some mythical "jones family" that can rarely be achieved...how many people do you know who make a cagillion dollars and are still unhappy? lots...happiness comes in many forms for many people, but too often we resort to what makes others happy as sources for our own happiness...but that doesn't work...it's like trying to be a luxury hiker when you want to be a gram weenie...just be yourself, find happiness and then embrace that **** with a bear hug...life is way, way too short to be anything but blissful...


it's just walkin'. nothin' to adjust to. try being a 20 year old coming back after war having seen and done some atrocious ****.

always simplifying things to their basic elements...wolfie you got something most don't, an enormous amount of life experience...and we both know it's more than just walking...i know we've changed each other in two years... ;) ...

this thread is runs so deep within me...i have (and have said many times before) been changed beyond belief because of the trail...after the trail this year, i moved to chicago...a great city...pre-trail, i was a city guy...i wanted to move to every major metropolitan area in the world...now, i could care less for most of the things around here...cities provide some nice conveniences: easy access to grocery stores, samosas, lotsa cute girlies...but, i now know that i prefer the comfort of the slower lifestyle...taking time to reflect before acting...being able to connect with the woods, stars, drinkable water...my priorities have changed...

i think the AT, through all of it's goodness (trail angels/magic, comraderie, deeper friendships, and much more) bring a sense of what "could" be possible if the world was a different place...the rejuvination in the belief of the human spirit is something that is hard to get past, and unless you have fully experienced greatness on that level, it's hard to understand or act out...

Blissful
12-11-2008, 23:14
it's just walkin'. nothin' to adjust to. try being a 20 year old coming back after war having seen and done some atrocious ****.


My 20 yr old nephew leaves for Afghanistan in late Jan. (he's in the army).

K.B.
12-12-2008, 02:52
So far my experience has been that I have not adjusted to life after thru-hiking yetÖthatís why I am on Whiteblaze (!). But I am working on it. K.B.

yappy
12-20-2008, 10:49
it was the 2nd AT hike that truely hooked me. I was'nt interested in doing it again after the first hike. I did'nt pine for the trail too much..but some. But, the 2nd hike had me dreaming of the Pct and others. The AT, for me, lit the match. Thank God for that. That trail will always be very special to me and many others.

Dogwood
12-20-2008, 13:56
Accept, that U will never be the same after your hike. U will never fully readjust to what U were before your hike! Accept, that U R ever changing - evolving. Realize, change can be good!. Remember, all that your hike has taught U and what U have experienced. FEEL THAT? Now, take that with U into eternity and live with it everyday.

Dogwood
12-20-2008, 14:18
it's just walkin'. nothin' to adjust to. try being a 20 year old coming back after war having seen and done some atrocious ****.

Lone Wolf, U R a man of few words. U keep it simple and in perspective of all your life experiences. But, whether U admit it or not, inside U know it's more than "just walkin." It's how U feel during and after a walk. It's how U somehow change, even if it's just a little bit, after every walk. If it wasn't U wouldn't be doing it again and again.

Pedaling Fool
12-20-2008, 14:52
I don't want to dredge up old controversies and I'm not trying to create a new one, I'm genuinely curious.

The topic of religion is a very divisive issue, but I've noticed that many who purport to be atheist, or at least agnostic will turn around and relate about a special feeling of spirituality they feel during a long distance hike. Iíve seen words like soul, spirit, life-force... used by non-religious people who argue we are simply organisms that evolved from simple-organisms.

So my question is simply: What is a spirit/soul/life-force?

Lone Wolf
12-20-2008, 15:02
So my question is simply: What is a spirit/soul/life-force?

probably just endorphins

Pedaling Fool
12-20-2008, 15:13
probably just endorphins
I think that's pretty much the scientific answer. So I guess the "special feeling" is simply a mix of biological and chemical factors. That's disappointing. Nonetheless, I still have a special feeling of m&m' s - thanks to my hike.

weary
12-20-2008, 20:06
I thought at first the heart attack last March would make it easier to move on and forget about the trail ...but it only made it worse.

So ...if anyone is considering a heart attack - - you can forget it.

'Slogger
Slogger, I've never had an heart attack. just open heart surgery in anticipation of an heart attack -- and a lot of pills after surgery, prescibed on speculation that such may be pending.

However, in my experience, the lure of the trail never ends -- well maybe the ultimate end of life, which I still haven't experienced. Nor have I yet heard a solution to such dilemmas. What I do is to live from day to day, on the basis of what seems useful on those days. It's worked for me. And on that basis, I recommend that others follow suit.

God, or whatever, determines the final end. Until then, us older folks, I think, are wise to do sensible things that seem likely to prolong life, at least until prolonging life. seems no longer worth it.

That's why today I spent two hours helping my daughter and her significant other -- and them helping me -- cutting a Christmas tree, and getting it out of the woods.

It was great fun. Unfortunately a traffic jam at the "cut your own parking lot," complicated getting to the memorial ceremony for the significant other of a dear friend, who died from leukemia this week.

Such are the compromises of life. But life is good. I'll try to let you know about death, if, perchance, such becomes allowed.

Weary

superman
12-20-2008, 20:14
It wasn't about adjusting. It was about going home and finding that my girlfriend had stolen $15,000 from me as I hiked the AT. :mad:

weary
12-20-2008, 20:26
It wasn't about adjusting. It was about going home and finding that my girlfriend had stolen $15,000 from me as I hiked the AT. :mad:
Think future. There is little yoiu can do about past mistakes. Nor in a hundred years will those mistakes make much difference. We live, we make decisions, and we mostly have to live with those decisions.

Weary

Dogwood
12-20-2008, 20:36
Easy people. U R just pissed because U R not out hiking! I understand. I really do. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. HOHOHO! Now, I suppose someone is going to have a quarrel that I offended them by saying Happy Holidays? Or Merry Christmas?

Mags
12-20-2008, 20:38
Easy people. U R just pissed because U R not out hiking! I understand. I really do. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. HOHOHO! Now, I suppose someone is going to have a quarrel that I offended them by saying Happy Holidays? Or Merry Christmas?

WHy not celebrate them all? :D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73vcbde8Cb8

...and a new one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hzFEy6KfHw&NR=1

Mags
12-20-2008, 20:57
Wow..thanks for the kinds words.

Really appreciate them.

I treat most things on this website, and others, with a wink and nudge. But that hit rather close to home.

At the end of the day, though, its all good. As I told someone else in a PM, I get to see my surrogate "nephew" tomorrow and give him his first pair of snowshoes as a Hanukkah gift (Like Christmas..but with dreidels and latkes! :D) I'll probably get that laugh and smile I've grown to love. Something really important in life...not some random insult from a random guy from the Intertubes. ;)

Merry Christmas/Hanukkah/Winter Solstice/Saturnalia/Whatever! :banana

superman
12-20-2008, 21:10
Think future. There is little yoiu can do about past mistakes. Nor in a hundred years will those mistakes make much difference. We live, we make decisions, and we mostly have to live with those decisions.

Weary

Er...you wanted a :) instead of :mad:. I mention that mostly as a heads up to folks before they hike the AT to have their assets secured. I took bad advice from someone on Trailplace that I didn't even know. I wasn't in to computers/paying bills on line yet. The person was warning to not handle finances on line because the information wasn't secure. I thought I could trust my girlfriend but I was wrong. Since I didn't get a limited power of attorney, or what ever other legal precautions there are, and I gave her access without limits it was my lose. This is a precautionary tale for folks to think about the security of their finances before they go off to hike.

weary
12-20-2008, 21:36
Er...you wanted a :) instead of :mad:. I mention that mostly as a heads up to folks before they hike the AT to have their assets secured. I took bad advice from someone on Trailplace that I didn't even know. I wasn't in to computers/paying bills on line yet. The person was warning to not handle finances on line because the information wasn't secure. I thought I could trust my girlfriend but I was wrong. Since I didn't get a limited power of attorney, or what ever other legal precautions there are, and I gave her access without limits it was my lose. This is a precautionary tale for folks to think about the security of their finances before they go off to hike.
Whatever, superman. I certainly agree that wise hikers should try to make sure that those that they entrust their finances to, during hikes, should be good people.

But beyond that none of us can ever be sure.

As for Mags, one of my favorite trail people. I left home as a kid from Maine in 1947 and returned 12 years later. I wasn't totally happy with either my messages from home, nor the events that happened before my return - neither mine, nor those of my parents, siblings and cousins.

But it's not something to agonize over. Things happen. Live and make the best of what is. Don't mess too much with what might have been, or perhaps, should have been.

Weary

nyushka42
12-22-2008, 14:04
WHy not celebrate them all? :D




It's a festivus for the rest of us :-D

Lion King
12-22-2008, 23:56
I deal with it by hiking.

GMTMinusFive
01-07-2009, 21:05
I'm interested in reading more about the experiences of thru-hikers and how they changed while on the trail. I've heard that you adjust to the slower mental pace and begin to feel very content and connected with the natural surroundings after a while. Until that, you're a little jumpy and edgy from coming in out of the super-busy "real" (quotes required) world.

Great thread. Any other experiences?

Dogwood
01-08-2009, 15:55
I'm interested in reading more about the experiences of thru-hikers and how they changed while on the trail. I've heard that you adjust to the slower mental pace and begin to feel very content and connected with the natural surroundings after a while. Until that, you're a little jumpy and edgy from coming in out of the super-busy "real" (quotes required) world.

Great thread. Any other experiences?

If U want to know more about how people change by being exposed to the woods, nature, and hiking check out 'Last Child In the Woods' by Richard Louv. By reading this book U will also begin to understand how being 'in the woods' is an activity that's being challenged by many who would rather have U doing something else.

GMTMinusFive
01-23-2009, 13:57
If U want to know more about how people change by being exposed to the woods, nature, and hiking check out 'Last Child In the Woods' by Richard Louv. By reading this book U will also begin to understand how being 'in the woods' is an activity that's being challenged by many who would rather have U doing something else.

Hey, thanks! That book is actually on my short list right now.