View Full Version : I'm a long-distance trail addict. Help!

03-09-2011, 15:59
I'm starting to admit to myself that the PCT was not enough. I recently saw Scarlet and Wildflower's CDT video and the Walkumentary online and now I want to hike the CDT. I also recently saw a 5 minute video on the AT on Backpacker Mag's website. Now I want to hike the AT, too. I also recently read a story written by a man who decided to walk all over the US and Mexico. It just made me want to hit the trail for another long hike.

A few weeks ago it was my birthday so I spent the day hiking by myself. Last weekend I tagged along on a Sierra Club hike with my big backpack and then set off to do a solo overnighter. In the morning the trail smelled and looked like the PCT near Agua Dulce! Oh, the burning to get back on the trail! This weekend I plan to tag along on another Sierra Club hike with my pack to a spot that also reminds me of the PCT. I'm sure it'll put me in another black mood come Monday morning.

Meanwhile, I've been running my dehydrator for no really good reason. I bought a kit to make a parcho for no good reason--it rarely rains here. I started shopping for the perfect hiking shoe again for no good reason. I've got a collection of hiking food growing in the pantry for no good reason. My backpack is packed and ready to go, with nowhere really to go.

I'm 46. I still haven't committed to the career world. I've got a boyfriend/common law husband who will probably never come with me or understand me. I'm sick, I'm telling you. Why am I this way? What's the matter with me?

Any advice for me?

03-09-2011, 16:12
I can't say much about your exact situation, being half the age I just don't have the wisdom needed to provide useful tips and advice. But, I've been contemplating making this very thread. I haven't been on but a few one night trips since my AT thru in 2009, but springer fever is bad this year. If I thought it was bad last year (which I did at that time), it doesn't compare.

I can't concentrate at work, I have my pack out, and have had to sleep in the bag a few times because I just can't sleep at night. I've been going to bed earlier and earlier even though I stay up tossing/turning in bed later and later... I blame this mostly on springer fever and the way the trail changed me. Society, in general, makes me sicker. In the sense that I can't stand it much longer. I have goals in life that require me to put up with the flaws of society. But I've put serious thought into how important those goals are... I have years to figure it out still, since regardless of what happens I owe a lot of money for my college loans...

But once that debt is paid, I foresee major life changes taking place. I spend more in a single month on my loans, than I did to live for 6 months on the AT. Granted, I managed to go with a low budget but point stands.

I already knew I wasn't alone with this problem, but for those infected ... what is the cure?

03-09-2011, 17:21
I already knew I wasn't alone with this problem, but for those infected ... what is the cure?

Oh.. well actually there aint no cure.. :eek:
Start planning your next hike. :rolleyes:

03-09-2011, 17:42
Turn off your computer and start walking. :sun

03-09-2011, 19:26
hike my freind..

03-09-2011, 19:59
I thought some fellow hikers had some really good advice on your similar post back in November: http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=66459

I liked Innermountain's idea: "It's possible to live a great life and enjoy it even after having been "on the trail." I started a hiking and backpacking tour company, learned to build websites and have build ours, so I'm either working on my business or taking people into the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Utah, or the Canadian Rockies."

And Lunatic's thoughts: "In the first few months after completing my hike I struggled with not being on the trail, but I found that for me it was about having balance in my life that includes hiking and "the trail". So I will hike short sections for a few years, but I hope to do another thru some day.
Until then, I'll go on a couple 5-10 day section hikes every year - time permitting. I also try to go out once a month, usually a 1-3 nights over a weekend or long weekend, to get my hiking/trail fix. It's doesn't seem like much when I'm planning, but I still get excited and it helps keep those thru-hike memories strong (u know, poor short term memory is rough!), and it always feels great once I'm back on the trail and in the woods. This weekend, however, I can't get out of the city so I've decided to "hike" the foot/bike path that follows most of the rim of Manhattan. About 32 miles on Saturday; quite a "hike" but a little shorter than the longest day on my thru. It will be flat and noisy with some construction, but I think it will be exhilarating and I'll get to see things that I don't see everyday...like Harlem and the Bronx! It will probably feel more like the AT if it rains on me all day.
Keep Hiking."

Based on your frequent threads on this subject, it really does sounds like you need a life change to get back to being happy. Just gotta figure out that that means for you.

03-09-2011, 20:37
IMO sometimes there are things in life that make us "just sick" about not being able to do, things we would love to do but for whatever reason life prevents us. Those, we have to learn to live with and find other hobbies or passions to distract us from.

Other times, however, it's possible to just wallow in what you're interested in. I've been doing more of the latter with long distance backpacking. I expect that at some point I'll have had enough, but my life situation is such that I'm not worrying too much about when that is. Well, to be fair to my spouse I can't turn into a total trail junkie, but she's pretty understanding about this stuff.

In short I guess the two options I can see are either (a) feed the addiction, or (b) try to distract yourself from it by finding other things you have (or can develop) passion for.

03-09-2011, 21:16
If you are not committed to a career and aren't in debt you should be out hiking. If that's want you want go for it.

03-09-2011, 21:25
Quit talking and start hiking young lady. Send us a trail report from time to time. :)

kayak karl
03-09-2011, 21:36
so your an addict!!!....... Addictions make people selfish and blind them. Nothing is more important than the addiction itself. Everything is geared towards getting the dependence met, and the deeper into addiction the greater the selfishness. and we wonder why they get mad and don't understand:D

03-09-2011, 22:03
Totally understand. I bought my 4th backpack today - one of the catalysts overstocked from last year that was on sale. Gearing up for out west. :)

03-09-2011, 23:23
............ I'm sick, I'm telling you. Why am I this way? What's the matter with me?

Any advice for me?

Well young lady, I think you're asking the wrong people since many of us suffer the same affliction.

Joey C
03-09-2011, 23:44
We all need something to do be it a hobby, craft, sport, or what not that keeps us sane. Hiking does that for me. My wife of 22 years has said to me on more than one occasion "you looked stressed, why don't you go out for a hike this weekend somewhere, anywhere... just go for a bit." She knows how refreshed and more pleasant to be around I'll be when I get back.

It's part of my life that defines me. I don't call it an addiction, I call it who I am. I am fortunate to have a spouse that understands, even though there's no way she's sleeping anywhere without taking a shower first - as she repeatedly tells me. :D

03-09-2011, 23:47
When I was very young and the urge to be someplace was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked.... In other words, I don’t improve, in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable.

When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find himself a good and sufficient reason for going.

-John Steinbeck

03-09-2011, 23:52
^ Absolutely outstanding reference. I always tell my friends to read the first few pages of Travels With Charley to get an idea of what my mindset has developed into.

Strange thing, I wasn't always this person. Or maybe I was but I buried it too deep under things that everyone else told me I should want, like a career, kids, a house, marriage. Slowly but surely, I'm learning for myself what I want and more importantly, what I don't.

03-09-2011, 23:59
My dear Ms Hikes,

For me, when I get off the trail, everything just seems to quickly get back to abnormal. You know?

It has been my experience that some people suffer from the Post (trail) Hiking Blues for longer periods of time than others. We've all seen it here, time and again. Hikers get off the trail and try to acclimate themselves back into a semblance of their former lives only to discover that it ain't easy. It's the old "square peg in a round hole" scenario... Frequently, the thing that has really changed most in their lives, is them. (William Faulkner) What was once familiar becomes strangely alien.

Hikers have different ways of dealing with the phenomenon... For example, some hikers take the edge off here at WB by sharing their experiences from the trail. They answer questions or engage in lively discussions about trail issues, etc. (no matter how paramount or obscure). Others start planning their next hike on the CDT, the AT, the Hayduke, the CT, the SHT, the GR 10 or 11, or any number of other trails. Some people buy and (rarely) sell gear... They're just ways to stay involved... to even (briefly) get back to the trail.

Furthermore, in addition to everything else you described (which I suggest to you is WAY on the other side of the spectrum from being "sick") there may be a very good reason why you are doing all those things you profess to be doing "for no good reason." Rather than spout off a bunch of philosophical mumbo-jumbo, I'll let Lee Marvin (as Ben Rumson) explain it (link below) from his point of view... Perhaps you can relate?

Finally, Monday need not be "black." I'm stuck in a dreary, wet, muddy and dang cold Misery... Oops, I mean Missouri. When you return from your outing, I, for one, would love to read about it here. Help get me (and others) back on the trail, Diane, if only briefly. OK?

You may have to copy and paste...

www.youtube.com (http://www.%3Cb%3Eyoutube.com%3C/b%3E)/watch?v=hUeLddZYnwg

03-10-2011, 01:22
Well, here's a description of my outing last weekend:

It was a gorgeous spring weekend. I went on the Sierra Club hike to Aliso Canyon trail. It was really hot out. The forecast was for 20% chance of rain but that was hard to believe. At the lunch spot a couple of us collected stinging nettles to cook with. After the hike, I traded my day pack for my backpack and got dropped off at the First Crossing where the road was closed because the river was high.

I walked across the river. The water was up to my thighs! At the second crossing the water was so wide it almost looked like a lake. It was only calf high. I walked Paradise Road for 5 miles without any traffic. I had it all to myself. There are so many pretty things to see on the road. Normally I just whiz on by in a car and don't see any of it.

I finally found the connector trail to Matias Potrero trail. A potrero is kind of like a bald. I started up the steep climb from the road and eventually reached the potrero. Sunny greenish-brown grassy hills, brown from the old grass and green from the new. I followed the trail for a few miles to the campsite. There was a nice little creek by the camp site and an old horse corral. Just one old picnic table, a fire pit and room for one or two tents. I hoped I would have it all to myself.

It was only 4:30 so I went out into the meadow and sat on a large rock and just watched the clouds overhead. As the sun caused changes to the light, I took pictures of the rock cliff that was my view.

I went back to the camp to make my dinner. I had pasta alfredo with nettles. It was very good. If you have never had nettles, they are quite delicious.

Large mosquitoes appeared so I set up my bug net under my tarp. I played my strumstick as the light faded. Soon I decided I would just lay down inside my bug net. The evening was really warm.

As I lay there, the darkness came and I started getting sleepy. Two owls hooted in the tree above me, one with a deep voice and another with a higher voice. A frog croaked in the little creek next to the camp. Some other bird made a jungle-like call that was kind of haunting. I listened for a while. Then the jungle bird made a call, then a scream, then was silent. I never heard it again. The owls were silent, too. I didn't hear the owls again for many hours. Did they eat that other bird?

Other critters could be heard skittering around in the oak leaves. I am not afraid of the noises in the night. I have tinnitus and the noises sound better than the "silence." I kept hearing human voices. I kept thinking a man and a couple of children were arriving at my campsite. It was just the sound of the creek. Have you ever noticed sometimes creeks have choirs singing in them or low voices talking? This one had an adult and two children. Ghosts of the creek.

I slept well and was very glad that I still remember how to sleep on a thin foam pad. There's a trick to it. I awoke at "the hour of the endless night of the soul." That's the hour when it suddenly gets really cold and you have to pee and don't want to get up and you try really hard to go back to sleep but can't. Finally I relented, got up and peed and then went back to sleep.

The morning seemed to come slowly. Then I realized I was enveloped in fog. I got up, made my breakfast of oatmeal with dried fruit, powdered milk, cinnamon and pecans that had been soaking all night. It was delicious. I packed up and head out on the trail.

I walked through more potreros filled with glowing spider webs, wet from the fog. I hiked out of the fog that was settled in the river valley and into a gorgeous, clear morning. Everything smelled like hiking the PCT near Agua Dulce. I was suddenly transported a hundred miles away (I'm so close!) and two years ago.

I walked through shady, north-facing slopes full of oak trees. I searched for chanterelles but did not find any. Perhaps if I come back next December there may be some.

I found the connector trail to Angostura Pass road, a dirt road that goes down to Gibraltar Dam, closed to the public. The connector trail was really steep! What a butt-kicker! There's going to be a 100 mile race that follows this connector. I can't imagine running up this. Every now and then I took pictures of the fog in the valley and the golden potreros.

I reached East Camino Cielo Road and decided I would find a place to dry all my gear in the sun. If I dry it all now, I can leave it packed and ready to go for next week. I sat on the trail for a while with my gear spread out in a yard sale.

I packed up and headed down Tunnel Trail. I met trail runners and other early morning exercisers. Santa Barbara's red tile and white stucco buildings were 3000' below me, along with the harbor and the ocean and the Channel Islands. It really is beautiful here.

I met my boyfriend at The Throne, a large rock we sometimes day hike to and sit. The rock is in the shade and is shaped like a giant chair. It's a great place to rest. We completed the trail together and he drove me home.

I made a list of over 20 short overnighter backpack trips I could take. All it has done is fed my desire to wander. Just when I was getting excited about Java programming, I go and make this list and smell the Agua Dulce morning and all I want to do is another long distance hike again. So tell me, am I wise or foolish? Will my little trips feed the beast or calm it?

Two Tents
03-10-2011, 09:44
Watching my packages track helps a little. A weekend hike to get my fix helps a little. Maybe I need rehab. Think I'll join 'Hokey Pokey Anonymous' cause I need to turn myself around.

03-10-2011, 10:37
Hello, my name is Wornoutboots & I'm an addict. I suffer too! Agreed, if you don't have a career that you've let control you & you have your debt's in order, Hit the Trail, feel the sun on you face the wind on your back & smell the flowers & be tickled when you find that perfect setting for camp! I know I'm not too good of addicts support system : o ) Have Fun Youngin!! Peace & Love

03-10-2011, 10:54
Ahhhhhhhhhhh... Thank you, Ms Hikes.

PS. Please send "hot" this direction. It's been a long winter.

Spirit Walker
03-10-2011, 14:55
I've been a long distance hiker for 23 years. It's not just what I do, it's who I am. Unfortunately, I can't do it any more. My husband's health issues mean no more long hikes. I love him too much to go without him, assuming I had the money to do it, which I don't. So I'm left with a huge hole in my life. I haven't come up with anything that comes close to filling the emptiness. Some folks do it with their job, or school, or family, or other hobbies. The only thing that comes close to satisfying me in the same way as long distance hiking is long distance travel. Even that isn't possible any more, thanks to a lack of money, plus the anchors of home and dog.

Short trips help, but they don't satisfy in the same way that a long hike does. They do remind you of some of the realities that tend to get glossed over in the memory: heat, cold, hunger, rain, pain, etc. They give you a taste of the lifestyle you love. You get to immerse yourself in nature again, feel the peace and happiness seeping into your soul. It's worth doing. But it isn't the same.

Feral Bill
03-10-2011, 15:24
Colin Fletcher starts off The Complete Walker saying "I had better admit right away that walking can in the end become an addiction, and it is then as deadly in its fashion as heroin or television or the stock market."

You need a twelve million step program.

Two Tents
03-10-2011, 15:48
Spirit Walker, Your post is heavy. I feel for you. There is always someone worse off. At least you can get away for a few days to feel it, to remember it. That is a small consolation that I realize. Don't give up, you can go long distance tonight when you dream. Peace.

03-11-2011, 02:21
I also love hiking in the way you all do, and I fear that once I get on the Appalachian Trail, they'll be no going back.