View Full Version : lost

07-16-2004, 09:48
lost -- that also describes the first version of this posting that got "lost" when i hit "submit new thread".
i started a thru-hike last april, but only got about 140 miles and got off the trail at the n.o.c. due to huge blisters on the backs of my heels and tendonitus on the insides of both my feet. my feet stayed swollen for almost a week after i got off the trail.
i have been a bum for the last 2 1/2 months, procrastinating on what to do next. i had a major anxiety attack when i decided to go back to the trail --- i think i described the events on trailjourals -- i'm "cupcake".
so, where am i now? i'm in the position where i need to do something --- the bank account is dwindling. i want to attempt a thru-hike again next season, but starting in march. i have an opportunity to live with a friend, get a job, and have more time to get into better shape and prepare for a hike 7 1/2 months down the road. the problem is, my heart is not into this limbo time. there is something i want more than this, but something i can't have.
i'm making myself miserable by dragging my feet. i'm full of indecision.
a friend suggested that i just go and hike now. i don't feel ready for that. i'm afraid i will encounter the same physical problems i did before and i feel even less fit now. besides, i really do need to make some money. i want to do a one season thru-hike, and i feel it's too late for that now. the same friend also suggested that i've already been in a state of limbo since april -- and that i'd be in one until next march -- he asked if i really wanted to do that to myself. it's a fair thing to consider.
why i want to hike --- i feel i need to rebuild myself. i need to regain confidence, have time w/o daily distractions to figure out what will be the next chaper of my life, to get a new perspective and meet people from all walks of life sharing that experience. i enjoyed most parts that i experienced before -- minus the physical discomforts.
my mom asked me yesterday, "when did you become so lost?" i don't know. but i know i'm lost. i think that's a start to figuring out my problems.
i'm posting now in hopes of gaining new perspectives on my situation. these forums have always been helpful in the past. i'm in real need of positive thinking --- feel free to ask me more question ---- when i can get to a computer, i will do my best to respond.
i'm not asking for someone to solve my problems, i just need some help opening my third eye.
thank you,

07-16-2004, 10:55
Sounds like you could profit from connecting with one of my psychologist colleagues to get you over this hump and back on track. The ideal person would be one who can understand the importance of outdoor activities and not one who will try to provide deep psychobabble interpretations. I'm sure you will get great ideas from the folks on the forum, but the trick will be to implement them in a way that makes sense to you.Often folks who specialize in sport psychology are really great at such issues, maximizing personal strengths without resorting to Freud and the boys.Good luck with your stuff, you sound as though you are very determined to make some changes.


07-16-2004, 11:40
Those who know they are "lost" are potentially more saveable than the complacent, the career-secure success stories. The vagabonds who went out to hear a hill preacher from Nazareth, were filled with hope and direction for the rest of their lives. If an extended or a thru hike proves un-doable for physical or other reasons, it may be time to seek meaning elsewhere. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities in America, or room and board with stipend for dedicated work--Organic Volunteers has a site if you have interest in farm work. I have found long distance back-packing on the A/T to be the most physically exhausting work I have done--and I have been involved in quite a range of physically demanding work...If your body suffers with blisters and serious damage as you indicated not only does it require healing treatment, but care and good nutrition in the future.

Jersey Bob
07-16-2004, 12:36
at least 10 characters

07-16-2004, 16:09
Hey there..its OK to be sad..you lost a DREAM..you are supposed to be sad. I lost my dream of being a NOLS instructor when a drunk driver clobbered me. I was lucky enough to meet some wonderful people who knew alot about broken dreams. They gave me some great advice. First you "call a spade a spade". Your thru hike ment something special to you-it mattered. Then you grieve. When you lose something that matters it hurts..so cry if you want to..you are supposed to do this. When you acknowledge that something mattered and that it hurt to lose it and then you grieve for it you allow the pain from that to move on. Try this for awhile and know it is OK to feel lost. And the last thing you can do is chose carefully what you remember. You can focus on the unfinished hike or you can think about the special things you encountered on the journey. Whatever you chose to focus on will be the reality in your life. I admire you for what you accomplished. I never had the guts to do a thru hike. Neither have most of my friends...we be chickens. We do have one friend that tried it. He was the most experienced outdoor person we knew. He spent his summers out west roaming all over the national parks. He made it to the top on Blood Mtn on his thru hike. He has always slept under a tarp with his pack and food. A squirrell decided to join him one night and they got into an argument over a snickers bar. The squirrell got mad and flipped his tail up-thats when he discovered he was fighting with a skunk. He got a direct hit in the face and had to come off the trail at Neals Gap. We never look at this hike as a failure we are too busy laughing. So chose the good stuff to dwell on and just show up for awhile. Get the job...or go help out a a camp somewhere..but do something....because when you show up for life another dream will find you.

07-16-2004, 16:29
Never be afraid to re-invent yourself!

Blue Jay
07-17-2004, 07:44
Absolutely wonderful post Firefly, thankyouthankyouthankyou.

07-17-2004, 10:32
i find that i have my best thinking time when on the road. yesterday was a travel day. thank you all who posted thus far in response to my letter. i did make some decisions while driving. i also started to consider a southbound hike. (eeks!) part of me thinks 'why put myself on hold until next spring'? it's been a difficult transition time --- no commitments to rent, job, schedule, etc. i know i need to do something for myself. not too long ago, a friend tried to remind me how ridiculous i was being by being upset over having so many options and freetime. sometimes choices can manifest as a burden. i am lucky to have choices.
i'm gathering my strength from the good friends i have.

07-17-2004, 12:43
Something I wrote on AT-L a while ago (2003) that may be pertient. Take it for what it is worth. Since it is free...probably not worth much. :)


Here is a great way to segue-way into my off trail
re-adjustment stories. It is a bit longish..so let the
reader beware.

Re-adjusting after the AT was just brutual. Most of
the people who have been on this list for a while know
the story of what I found out the day after I finished
the AT, but to re-cap for those who are new here (1999

August 1st, 1998. Finished the AT. Easily one of the
happiest days of my life. My best friend, who I have
known since Catholic school days, hiked the last week
of the trail with me. My youngest brother and other
friends met us at Katahdin Stream campground at 7am.

Still remember the day clearly. The ponds were misting
for the day was cool, but warming quickly. The two
miles from Daicey to Katahdin were strange. Almost
dream like. Five mos of hiking about to come to an
But I arrived in the parking lot, and there was Steve
(brother), Leo, Jim and Steve (friend). They hadn't
seen me in 5 mos, never saw me with a beard, and
couldn't believe how I looked (or smelled!).

Climbed to the Tableland with them. But, as soon as I
saw the Katahdin sign, I sped up. All but my brother Steve and
Tim fell behind. Reach the sign, hollered, took my
picture (with a full watermelon I carried to the
summit). The others arrived and pulle out a feast. Leo
packed in a bottle of Dom (!). My first and only time
drinking a $100 bottle of champagne. They also sprayed
me down with sprakling wine. They said I smelled
better stinking of cheap booze! We also had cold-cuts,
bagles, cheese, fresh fruit. As Squanto said "Your
friends packed an Italian deli to the summit!".
Also puffed on some convenience store stogies my
brother packed in. Reminded me of why I don't smoke...
Happy..happy..happy..very happy day.

August 2nd, 1998. Shaved, showered, clean clothes.
Somewhere on I-95 getting back to RI. The rental car
became very quiet. My brother, who had just graduated
from high school, said "Paul. There's somethng I have
to tell you". That is usually not a good way to start
a conversation...
"While you were away, our parents seperated. The
family house has been sold"... Me "What about the
dog?" (Family pet of 15 yrs) Steve "She's been put to
sleep". (She had arthrtitis extrememly bad before I
left..had lost most of her sight while I was away)


As you can imagine the double whammy of a) getting
used to civilization after 5 mos of exploring the
woods b) getting used to the idea that the previous 24
yrs of my life just does not exist anymore made for me
an interesting time. Pulling up to the family home
seeing a SOLD sign on the front lawn, finding all my
belongings in cardboard boxes and having two weeks to
find a place to live (when I did not expect to) was a
bit overwhelming.

Needless to say, 1999 was a difficult year for me.
Felt lost. No one in my family could relate really. I
was supposed to have gotten it out of my system. At
24, I was supposed to start thinking of serious
things. (According to the Fam..)

And Rhode Island is not exaclty a mecca for people who
value the outdoors as something to be cherished. :-D
Coming from a conservative, blue-collar, Catholic
background was not supposed to do things like dreaming
of taking big adventures. One was supposed to be more
than enough. Time to get a good job, meet a nice girl,
start a family. (Come to think of it..they still say
that. :D) My friends, with the exception of one
friend, wondered when I was going to "snap out of it"
as well.

Long story short...needed a change and moved to
Colorado one year to the day I ended the AT. Wanted to
get away and start fresh, if you will. Tim kicked me
in the ass to get a move on. Basically said "You
aren't happy. Do something about it!" Good friends are
like that...

Moving to Colorado was an adventure in itself. I
might as well have moved to Guam. For most of my
friends and family, going to Boston (1 hr away), was a
road trip. Being 2000 miles away? Wow... Definitely
became the black sheep in a family where all 6
children and all 16 grandchildren still lived within
ten miles of each other. (On the other hand, when I do
visit, I do get to pick whatever food I want for
family meals. ;-) Oh yes..the family is now up to 4
great-grandchildren. Traditional Catholic family in
more than a few ways... )

Think that is common for many people who finish a long
trail. Feel a drift. Not sure what to do next. The
goal you worked so hard for has been finished. Now
what? Part of that feeling is physiological. Your
energy level was abusrdly high. The body becomes
addicted to that level. Then, the activity ceases
abruptly. But, the big adjustment is psychological.
Getting used to many people again. Getting used to
living on a schdule that is not set by you. Going from
your "office view" being the mountains to working in a
cubicle again, wondering if you can get the extra
day-off for along weekend.

I think I had a unique post-trail story, but sure of
this story reflects, in some ways, for other
thru-hikers, too.

My PCT re-adjustment story was in someways better,
someways worse. I figured doing the AT, would be ready
for the post-trail "funk". Wrong.

First, the IT industry took a big nose dive in
Colorado. Even more so than the rest of the country.
Long story short, the job I had lined up before I left
was no longer. The company was liquidated. The job I
had to take more or less had retail hours (did the
techie thing in a computer store) and was hard to even
escape on weekends for a needed outdoor fix.

As Jim mentioned, I also felt uncomfortable in crowds.
At the first meeting I attended for my outdoor group,
one friend asked me if I was OK. I am still like that
in crowds, if a bit better than a year ago. I don't
think I was really prepared for the physiological
changes. I was so pre-occupied with the family issues
post-AT, that I did not notice the physiological
issues at all. This time I did.

But, living in Boulder (which *IS* an outdoor mecca),
had much more support from other people. People who
may not have thru-hiked but have spent weeks or months
biking in Europe. Climbing the Himalayas. Training for
ulta-marathons. They could relate on some level.
People who actually wanted to hear stories. Who nodded
their heads and understood.
Also became heavily involved in my outdoor group. Took
over the e-mail list, organized a bunch of trips. In
short, found a new "project" right away. And I took up
running, helping to keep up that physical activity.
The combo of running and being involved in something
really shortened the post-trail funk.

So, post-trail "funkiess" can be interesting. You feel
lost, uncomfortable in "normal life". You miss the
lifestyle terribly. SOme people adjust better than
others. Some keep on hiking. :-)

Anyway, that was my long, rambling post about my
post-trail experiences. A bit akward at times..but I
adjusted. For the most part. ;-)

Mags</pre> **************


Almost two years after doing my PCT thru-hike, the adjustment has gone exceptionally well. Feel much more comfortable in crowds. Became very close to some great people in Boulder... Finding a new project (the outdoor group, leading lots of trips) and being active (continue to hike, taking up long distance running) helped immensley post thru-hike #2. Looking forward my trek on the Colorado Trail next month! Hope my little rambling was of use. :)

07-17-2004, 13:00

a friend tried to remind me how ridiculous i was being by being upset over having so many options and freetime.
With all due respect, I agree with your friend. I was not going to post my views, but since you mentioned it first; I consider the topic open.

You need to remember that there a LOT of people in this world who will never get the chance to take time off from work and hike the AT. There are a lot of people who would find themselves in deep trouble if they missed a few weeks of work. There are a lot of people who have children who need food, clothes and shelter - a long vacation is not an option to them. There are a lot of people hooked to machines to stay alive. They don't have the luxury to 'feel lost' because they can't hike a hike right now.

My advice? Quit feeling sorry for yourself. Take a look around, quit living in such a liberal, touchy feely bubble and be thankful for what you have, and what you have achieved so far. 140 miles is nothing to sneeze at!

Things could be much, much worse.

07-17-2004, 14:37
yes, beavertrapper, things could be worse. i will admit that i appreciate the postings of the others though much more than yours. i can shut my eyes and be all logical and be thankful for what i have, where i live, my health, etc --- or, i can deal with things less on the surface that are destructive from the inside out. it's a tough thing to admit --- sharing these thoughts. but reaching out, to friends, and even strangers on the forum, helps. sometimes we need positive supportive thoughts vs. harsh slaps of reality. i don't necessarily think anyone should censor themselves if they have something to share -- i do believe there is a time to be sensitive though.

07-18-2004, 22:56
Look at OneLegWonder and be damned thankful you've got two legs.
Listen to LoneWolf...its only hiking, you ain't gonna save the world or yourself
by hiking the AT.
If you've got the wonderlust remember the world is 3/4's water, shake your obsession with the AT and buy a kayak...important if for some reason it turns out that physically you won't be able to hike (my fear too).

Awesome advice in the above posts, take it to heart and mull it over a bit.
One more thing- your're thinking you need the AT, maybe you do maybe you dont but for sure the AT needs you, maybe not as a hiker but as a maintainer or a crusader for its lands and protection.

Good luck.

07-18-2004, 23:52
thank you medicine man

Pencil Pusher
07-19-2004, 00:21
Denise, I think your feeling of being lost is common among many people. Been there a few times myself. Best thing to do (works for me) is just do something no matter how much your mind trys to resist the physical effort. The phisical and mental are so closely intertwined that jogging one will usually kick-start the other for an overall positive effect.

Sitting around doing nothing is fine especially if you need down-time for healing, regrouping, reflection, etc. But when you get bored of being bored, the time is right to just get out and do something... anything. Anyway if this feeling persists, and you've tried on your own to correct without success, it may be wise to ask a professional for help.
Yeah, this sounds cool. Don't be hard on yourself if you think you're depressed. Depression isn't a disease, it's an everyday fact of life. I usually get a dose of it each year during the winter, I just chock it up to sunshine deficiency. My thought is you should bite the bullet and immerse yourself in whatever job and nightlife that will tide you over till March. If another injury happens, follow MedicineMan's suggestion of kayaking, etc. Sailing, tennis, scuba, bird watching, and the gazillion other things there are to do in life. Unfortunately there's not enough time to do them all.

steve hiker
07-19-2004, 01:09
I never had the guts to do a thru hike. We do have one friend that tried it. He was the most experienced outdoor person we knew. He spent his summers out west roaming all over the national parks. He made it to the top on Blood Mtn on his thru hike. He has always slept under a tarp with his pack and food. A squirrell decided to join him one night and they got into an argument over a snickers bar. The squirrell got mad and flipped his tail up-thats when he discovered he was fighting with a skunk. He got a direct hit in the face and had to come off the trail at Neals Gap.
Sound like NOLS level of "expertise."

Pencil Pusher
07-19-2004, 01:20
delete or erase por favor

squirrel bait
07-19-2004, 09:19
Denise I don't what part of the country ya live in but my two cents would be, go to the beach. Wonderful for remembering what part we all play in this huge huge world. 140 miles on the AT is fantastic and reminds me that my little ole hike was nothing. But it was to me and I think thats what everyone is saying. Wet boots, duct tapped heels in a pouring rain and I counted myself luckier than most just by being out there. Be strong. And just to keep it personal, the day I got home (yesterday) after my hike I received the news my father died. Have faith in yourself Denise. You seem like a strong person.

Brushy Sage
07-19-2004, 10:02
Posting your "lost" message was a gutsy thing to do; it was an important step toward finding yourself again. I know the disappointment of not completing an intended thru hike; the trail continues to beckon, to invite me back. I have found great satisfaction, and good physical activity, in doing trail maintenance/construction with the Carolina Mountain Club. I have found new friends, doing something we all enjoy. My sons and I also get together at least once a year for a camping/hikiing outing. I don't remember what wise person said this, but I realize it often for myself: Wherever you go, there you are. I hope you enjoy getting to know yourself in a new way; I suspect you are a very likeable person.