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cleanshave
09-17-2011, 10:58
OK, so I summited Katahdin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiiFyInCeZI) Sept. 8th after starting my nobo hike at Springer on April 8th.

Now what?

I'm slowly working my way back into civilization, I actually stealth camped twice in my hometown since being back, something that was unthinkable before the thru hike.

But I really would love to know how other thru hikers are dealing with the transition. Most people seemed like they would be broke when they were done, some were going to look for jobs in Maine, some couldn't wait to get home.

Was home everything you expected?

After being home for a week did you still feel the same or did you want to get right back out there?

Personally I feel like I traded the freedom of the trail for an illusion of what I thought was back home. Nothing is the same, or maybe too much of it is the same bull**** that made we want to hike in the first place.

CrumbSnatcher
09-17-2011, 11:07
it will never be the same! if you enjoyed trail life you will always wish you were back out there. today, tommorrow, and then some. good luck with that :-)

Jeff
09-17-2011, 12:54
Hey Cleanshave, great meeting you this summer in Vermont. Glad you had a successful thruhike. Now you know why there are so many repeat offenders on the trail year after year.

Trailbender
09-17-2011, 13:36
OK, so I summited Katahdin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiiFyInCeZI) Sept. 8th after starting my nobo hike at Springer on April 8th.

Now what?

I'm slowly working my way back into civilization, I actually stealth camped twice in my hometown since being back, something that was unthinkable before the thru hike.

But I really would love to know how other thru hikers are dealing with the transition. Most people seemed like they would be broke when they were done, some were going to look for jobs in Maine, some couldn't wait to get home.

Was home everything you expected?

After being home for a week did you still feel the same or did you want to get right back out there?

Personally I feel like I traded the freedom of the trail for an illusion of what I thought was back home. Nothing is the same, or maybe too much of it is the same bull**** that made we want to hike in the first place.

This is exactly how I feel. I left college right in the middle of spring 2010 semester for my thru. I had good days and bad days, stomped through snow until the end of the smokies, but overall, it was an amazing journey. I felt let down at the end, going back to the boredom of daily life. I was frugal and a minimalist before my hike, spent $2300 on my entire thru, including the bus home. I became even more frugal when I got home, and all the stuff I own now is very little. I have this comp I built in 2009, hiking gear, thrift store clothing, and a beat up car. That is literally it. I got dissatisfied with college, I went in the fall when I got back, but I was restless and I hated being around thousands of people I had nothing in common with. Spoiled 18 year olds that would whine about a little rain messing up their hair, having to walk "a whole quarter mile" to get to a "far" parking lot. My anxiety came back, and depression. I left again spring 2011, and decided to live on the trail.

This was not meant to be, just 2 days in, I tore some cartilage in my knee and had to come back home. My pack weight was already light, but I went at cutting pack weight with a vengeance. I got it down to about 22lbs fully loaded now. If it wasn't for 25K in loans, and the coming winter, I would be on the trail again. I managed to find a crap job after 5 months, but it is only 3 days a week. It pays my rent and gas, and some food, but I basically have nothing else left over. At least I can hike. I spend most of my days off at a couple of local parks, on the trail all day. There is a one mile loop trail that reminds me of part of the AT in VA, the blazes are even the same dimensions and color. I'll throw on my ipod and zone out for hours, and I almost feel like I am back on the AT.

Once I get these loans paid off, I am on the trail, and will probably do other trails in the US, work some crap job in the winter. Screw money, a career, or getting married. The wanderlust is incredibly strong in me, I thought my thru would cure it, but it only made it worse.

PM me if you want to talk about it, or know more. I know exactly what you mean.

Mags
09-17-2011, 13:51
I'm from Rhode Island originally as well. The first 25 yrs to of my lived there.

Like you, I had trouble being back.

I got the hell out and moved to Colorado. :)

http://www.pmags.com/after-the-trail-%E2%80%93-post-trail-re-adjustment

I need to write a postscript to the above essay. Still working on the balance, but I did find someone to share m life with (getting married next year).

Trailbender
09-17-2011, 14:10
I'm from Rhode Island originally as well. The first 25 yrs to of my lived there.

Like you, I had trouble being back.

I got the hell out and moved to Colorado. :)

http://www.pmags.com/after-the-trail-–-post-trail-re-adjustment (http://www.pmags.com/after-the-trail-%E2%80%93-post-trail-re-adjustment)

I need to write a postscript to the above essay. Still working on the balance, but I did find someone to share m life with (getting married next year).

Yeah, I have read a lot on your site, good info, and a lot of my attitude as well, especially dirtbagging and making your own gear.

Serial 07
09-17-2011, 14:38
as stated, life will never be the same for you now...good luck transitioning back to the "real world"...

CrumbSnatcher
09-17-2011, 15:40
took my daughter on a bike ride earlier, smelled someones fireplace going, made me think of a few campfires.
you'll see street names or signs with words or partial words of places on the trail, that will take you back to certain times or places on your journey.

Trailbender
09-18-2011, 00:22
My biggest question I have asked myself since I am off the trail has been "why am I wasting time doing this crap when I could be on the trail?", the main one is money, so I am learning to live with less and less. The biggest thing is the 25K in student loans. I thought about working a factory job for a couple years, to pay it off. Still gonna work on that, but there are times when the urge gets so strong to say, "screw it, I'm going hiking". I feel like my dayhikes are an antidote against that somewhat, they keep me sane, and I do enjoy them, not saying I don't.

I know I was truly happy while on the trail, for one of the few times in my life. I am content, for the most part, though. It's just all the stupid ritualistic BS we have to do in society, ect, that gets irritating.

It will be very hard this spring, when it starts getting warm, and I know another group of hikers is heading out there, to not just say screw it, drop my car off at a scrapyard, and toss my fortunes to the wind.

yappy
09-18-2011, 01:30
Welcome 2 the dark side my friend ! Eithr folks only hike once or thy become trail wanders and find their way 2 other trails life will never b the same and woohoo 4 that ! I doubt I ever would have come 2 the far north if I hadn't hiked long trails.I could never live in congestion again am soo grateful 4 the trails

wcgornto
09-18-2011, 01:58
Welcome 2 the dark side my friend ! Eithr folks only hike once or thy become trail wanders and find their way 2 other trails life will never b the same and woohoo 4 that ! I doubt I ever would have come 2 the far north if I hadn't hiked long trails.I could never live in congestion again am soo grateful 4 the trails

Same for me. Anchorage here. Chugach is my back yard.

fiddlehead
09-18-2011, 05:29
Welcome to your new world.
The winter will most likely suck for you because not many will understand what you just did and how different it is from their norm.

Those who really fell in love with the wanderlust feeling will move on to other adventures.
But first of course, you need the money, so, I found it best to immerse myself in something that kept me real busy and made me money.
As soon as the days started warming up, I was off again on another journey somewhere.

Good luck. The first 3-5 months are the hardest.

yappy
09-18-2011, 07:17
Hi wc :) nice 2 c a fellow alaskan we are outside fairbanks abt 20 miles have u done kesugi ridge in denali state park ? Great hike not 2 far from u

Jim Adams
09-18-2011, 10:08
Sleep outside as much as possible...that helped me. I slept on a deck in a reclining lounge chair until 3 days before Christmas...that helped. Beware...March will be a TOTAL bitch!

geek

sbhikes
09-18-2011, 10:11
It's been two years since I saw Monument 78. I think about the trail every day. It took a long time to get used to civilization again and to get used to my dry, So Cal hiking landscape after all those pretty forests. I got a crappy job where I could make my own hours and that helped ease me in to work life. My boyfriend was going to hike 700 miles of the PCT and being his support person really made me happy but he sprained his ankle at mile 171 and I think I was 100 times more disappointed than he was because I was looking forward to living vicariously through his hike and having him finally understand what mine was like.

I eventually got a good job. If I stay long enough I'll get a pension, but at the very least, for now, I sock away 1/3 of my gross income toward my retirement and try to save as much of the rest as I can for pre-retirement. Then it's back on the trails! I'm in my late 40s so I don't think I'll have to wait too long. My job is really pleasant in beautiful surroundings and I enjoy going there every day. I go running at lunch to learn how to do something new physically. I day hike on weekends and section hike the PCT a few times a year. I still think about the trail every day. I follow trail journals for my trail fix. Lately I feel bad about how I rarely sleep outside and no longer like getting dirty and that I'm growing soft and probably would have to get used to the trail again. A thru-hike changes everything and nothing, makes everything better and worse all at the same time.

cleanshave
09-19-2011, 18:18
... not many will understand what you just did and how different it is from their norm.

I found it best to immerse myself in something that kept me real busy and made me money.

This is about where I am. Started my first day back at work, restaurant manager, and all the regulars wanted to ask questions but their eyes glazed over or they wanted to tell a story about themselves. What scared me was how fast it all seemed to be the same, like I had never left.

I am knuckling down and trying to make as much money as possible over the winter, hopefully a few side trips will keep me sane and I wont just take off without putting some money in the bank.

Also wanted to say thanks to everyone who responded, lots to think about.

RGB
09-19-2011, 19:11
My biggest question I have asked myself since I am off the trail has been "why am I wasting time doing this crap when I could be on the trail?", the main one is money, so I am learning to live with less and less. The biggest thing is the 25K in student loans. I thought about working a factory job for a couple years, to pay it off. Still gonna work on that, but there are times when the urge gets so strong to say, "screw it, I'm going hiking". I feel like my dayhikes are an antidote against that somewhat, they keep me sane, and I do enjoy them, not saying I don't.

I know I was truly happy while on the trail, for one of the few times in my life. I am content, for the most part, though. It's just all the stupid ritualistic BS we have to do in society, ect, that gets irritating.

It will be very hard this spring, when it starts getting warm, and I know another group of hikers is heading out there, to not just say screw it, drop my car off at a scrapyard, and toss my fortunes to the wind.

You could try for the best of both worlds and apply to either Americorps or the Peace Corps, travel, volunteer, and have some of your loans deferred.

I do know how you feel though. As a minimalist myself (getting close to completing the 100 things challenge), I sometimes feel that I've slipped back into too comfortable of a life. I think back to the life-changing first two weeks I ever spent on the AT and wish I could capture that feeling at it's strongest once again... School is in the way, but I only have one more semester after this so I just need to hang in there and I can do my thru.

hambone5126
09-19-2011, 19:25
last night i actually had a dream about summiting katahdin, and then was left wandering around when i came back down. im planning my hike, and trying to put together what im going to do afterward. any time i come back from a section hike, i feel that kind of detachment from what i consider my normal life. i can only imagine what it must be like after 5/6 months.

weary
09-19-2011, 23:21
My biggest question I have asked myself since I am off the trail has been "why am I wasting time doing this crap when I could be on the trail?", the main one is money, so I am learning to live with less and less. The biggest thing is the 25K in student loans. I thought about working a factory job for a couple years, to pay it off. Still gonna work on that, but there are times when the urge gets so strong to say, "screw it, I'm going hiking". I feel like my dayhikes are an antidote against that somewhat, they keep me sane, and I do enjoy them, not saying I don't.

I know I was truly happy while on the trail, for one of the few times in my life. I am content, for the most part, though. It's just all the stupid ritualistic BS we have to do in society, ect, that gets irritating.

It will be very hard this spring, when it starts getting warm, and I know another group of hikers is heading out there, to not just say screw it, drop my car off at a scrapyard, and toss my fortunes to the wind.
There are interesting ways to earn a living. Find something that interests you and train to do it well. Then enjoy. Welfare as we know it was ended under President Clinton. Everyone needs to eat. Most of us enjoy shelter in the winter. A job needn't make one rich, just one that keeps one in food and in minimal comfort when the weather turns cold and wet.

That's what I found and did for a few decades. I enjoyed every minute of working. When it came time to quit, I hated doing so.

Sensei
09-20-2011, 02:27
I finished on July 23 and just about every day has been hard since then. My enjoyment of being done with the trail lasted for less than 48 hours before I already wanted to be back on the trail. I remember how incredible it felt to sit down in a comfy chair or take a hot shower or eat real food while I was on the trail... all of that is gone now. I was shocked at how quickly those sensations dissipated.

Although I live in Boulder, Colorado, I am a graduate student with no time to myself so I haven't had a chance to go hiking since I got off the A.T. I think about the trail every single day. Being surrounded by people who have absolutely no idea how you feel (even if they know about your hike) gets lonely sometimes.

It's funny: I spent five months on the trail thinking about how wonderful all the comforts of the non-hiking life would be after finishing, and now that I'm done all I can think about is how much I want to be back on the trail.

Sensei

Trailbender
09-20-2011, 10:37
I do know how you feel though. As a minimalist myself (getting close to completing the 100 things challenge)

I don't think being a minimalist means limiting yourself to a certain number of things. I know I have less than 100 things, I don't bother counting, but I really don't have much. I did simplify everything, and I own very little. I did this because everything you own has to be fixed and cared for. If you own less things, you have more time for yourself. You also don't feel stuck in one area when you can throw your crap in your car and be gone in 20 minutes.



It's funny: I spent five months on the trail thinking about how wonderful all the comforts of the non-hiking life would be after finishing, and now that I'm done all I can think about is how much I want to be back on the trail.


I know exactly how you feel. I looked forward to having a few beers and playing computer games when I got home, it was fun for about 3 days. Fortunately, I can frequently go hiking where I live, it is short trails and not really the same, but it is something at least. I think about the AT a lot.

Pony
09-21-2011, 13:35
you'll see street names or signs with words or partial words of places on the trail, that will take you back to certain times or places on your journey.

I pass Andover Street in my hometown everyday, so right before I get to work I am reminded of the trail. Any guesses on what I think about most of my work day?

I heard once that you'll never be worth a $h!t to another employer after you hike the trail. Let's just say I'm on my second job since I came home last september.

CrumbSnatcher
09-21-2011, 18:33
I pass Andover Street in my hometown everyday, so right before I get to work I am reminded of the trail. Any guesses on what I think about most of my work day?

I heard once that you'll never be worth a $h!t to another employer after you hike the trail. Let's just say I'm on my second job since I came home last september.had to start my own company :-)

Rick Hancock
09-21-2011, 18:56
I thru hiked way back in 1980, started April 2nd completed Sept. 16th. To this very day smoke in the air, a place name, or a hundred other things can bring my memory back. I was 25 years old and I was living my dream. For a year or 2 I quit hiking, the weekend trips just weren't enough I was once again a "Weekend Warrior" and not a thru hiker. Then I got smart, I realized that I'd had the chance to do what a lot of guys never did. Now, all these years later I'm okay with the 2-3 day hikes (I manage to do about 15-25 hikes or multi day Mt Bike rides a year) with no complaint from my wife. In fact my wife usually does the rides with me. The wonder lust is still strong, and I still seek out the wild places that were my home during that brief 5 1/2 months that still shapes who I am.

One side note, when I got home, within 3-4 days I got a ticket for driving with no current tag on my license plate (it had expired that Sept. I had it, just hadn't put it on! That was a real awakening that I was back! When I explained he just looked at me like I was a space Martian "No excuse kid!"

Wuff
09-23-2011, 11:57
Yo Clean Shave - we met early in our hikes at Kincora, and I think you summitted with my bud Pigeon Pot Pot. Congrats on your success, man. All the best. I had to get off at Harpers and all I can think about it getting back out there. Depressing for a while, but the thought of getting back out on the trail gives you something to look forward to I suppose..

MyName1sMud
09-23-2011, 12:46
http://www.pmags.com/after-the-trail-–-post-trail-re-adjustment

).

That's such a good read! Thank you for posting it! I've got to search around on your site now!

zoomerz2
09-26-2011, 15:47
Whatup Cleanshave, its Portable G. I met you in southern Maine when we were on the 'nearo the north' croo. I sumitted Katahdin last sunday. Thankfully I've still got the 1000 miles south of Harper's Ferry to hike before I finish my thru-hike. Although I'm not even close to finishing, the trail has already changed me so substantially that I don't think I'll ever get over it. I'll either be on a long distance hike or planning my next long distance hike for quite some time. here's a sweet video to help you out with the jones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5ZlyZE0cKtA
Congrats and best wishes.

PS: Are you still planning to do a thru-bike next season?

coheterojo
09-27-2011, 09:25
I can certainly relate as well. I did my 1st thru last year and never really did readjust to normal life. I went back out this year and did my 2nd thruhike. I just summitted on 9/20. I'm slowly working my way back south to my 5 X 7 storage unit in SC but have no real desire to re-enter the work-a-day world.
Unfortunately I did not meet any rich heiresses who could fund my continued wanderings on the trail so I'll have to do something to put a roof over my head and food on the table but I don't know what yet. I'm hoping to find some sort of work that is related to the trail.
I suppose it's unrealistic to think of doing the trail again yet I'm already thinking about it. The time I spent on my thruhikes has been the most magnificent, enjoyable, rewarding time I've ever spent in my 54 years of existence and I think of it every day.
I'll find some sort of employment. I have to, the money's all gone, and then I'll start planning the next hike. I'd really like to get the PCT and CDT done before I depart this veil of tears. They say doing a thruhike ruins a few of us because we are never able to readjust to normal life. I think I'm probably in that category but I'm not complaining. We've gotten the opportunity to experience something that very few on this planet get to experience and for that I'm eternally grateful.
Good luck to you and maybe we'll see you up the trail.

Hasta la proxima,
El Flaco - Hiker Trash Tour 2011 4/03/2011 - 9/20/2011 GA-ME
Death March 2010 4/21/2010 - 9/15/2010 GA-ME

atraildreamer
09-27-2011, 12:16
Hi Cleanshave! I see that you are located in Pawtucket, RI, just up the road from me in Providence. To reenter RI life after the AT is a shock that no one should have to endure! Congratulations on your successful thru hike!

GA/MEon14
12-25-2011, 13:32
Merry Christmas all and congrats to 2011 thru-hikers. After summitting Katahdin Sept. 14 I was excited to get back home to see family and friends. I also got my old job back. Now just over 3 months after completion I've answered the same questions about food, bears,guns, what happens when it rains, or did I read a walk a woods more times than when I was on trail. Noone understands what trail life is like. I'm bored with my now normal daily routine and miss the simplicity of the trail most of all. Eat, walk, eat, see something awesome, eat,walk, chill at a viewpoint, walk, set up camp, eat, sleep, repeat. I still use my sleeping bag, scan the sky for weather patterns to determine how the day will be, and laugh when I see people wearing expensive high-tech hiking gear for fashion who will never use it for it for its intended purposes. Life at home is not what I expected when I was on trail but the AT has opened the door for more long distance hikes. Their are tons of trails to explore. My strategy is to work until I can afford to hike again. Looking forward to seeing everyone on trail. Happy holidays. Happy Holidays

-Mtn Dew GA/ME on 11

Del Q
12-25-2011, 20:56
Although (only) a section hiker, someone said to me years ago, "be careful the AT can really get into your blood".

Get that now and am happy about it...............in this crazy screwed up world there is always backpacking.

BlackJack1
12-25-2011, 22:32
Only made it to Fontana in Feb-March 2011. But it changed me.

Fireweed
12-26-2011, 00:06
I hopscotched all over the trail this fall and finally quit in VA the week before Thanksgiving. All I can think about is getting back on again. I'm planning for March this time going GAME. I've been a Sobo so far. But the restlessness is hard to contain. Even though I had to leave VT and go to ME after Irene, then jump to MASS and Conn. skip NY after the big snow/blow down and leave VA for the holidays, I feel like I hiked more than 320 miles. But then, it's cold and dark up here in Alaska. It's been snowing since early November and shows no signs of stopping. And where else can a body yearn for something and find mostly supportive ears. Thanks........

blackbird04217
12-26-2011, 00:19
Well I was, and pretty much still am, in that position. Longing to get back in the woods, to just walk. Something very enticing about it. Placing one foot in front of the other, wandering about through the valleys and over the ridges. There certainly was a "grass is greener" side that I saw, and force myself to remember - even if briefly, while I was thru-hiking in 2009;
- a light switch is an amazing thing to extend the 'day' - helping with activities after dark and moving "hikers midnight" deep into the night.
- hot water on call is one of the most amazing things to have, turn a handle and have heated water; no need to burn a bit of fuel for washing.
- a car can travel a days worth of walking in less than 30 minutes, carry much heavier food loads.
- a four walled shelter, with no leaking roof or openings, with heat keeping you completely dry is amazing.

From the trail all these, and much more seemed so amazing to me. But two years later, and only a few weekend trips, and I feel the grass was much greener on the other side
- Lights, while extending the night need to be monitored carefully. They have a tendency to push the rush-rush of the real-world upon us.
- Cars, and other forms of transportation are over used, including by me. I have been 1.5 miles from from work for the passed year, and this summer I couldn't take the time to walk or ride a bike. I completely blame my brain for desiring to save every minute of my precious time...
- hot water on tap is still amazing, I'll never take it for granted.

Sensei made a great point about thinking about home while on the trail, then thinking about the trail afterwards. Although I read it while researching my plans, I never expected I'd hike another long distance trail in my life after the AT. I was foolish, and wrong. If I have my way I will hike many trails in the future - I'm just foolishly? dedicating the next 5 years to paying off my debt to college. If only I hiked before college... Ha.

I haven't decided what is next; PCT or CDT... But I have a few years to pick. For now I'll try sneaking out on weekends when possible. Thanks for reading my rants that are likely un-comprehensive.

weary
12-26-2011, 11:24
Keep in mind that the trail you learned to love didn't just appear magically. It evolved over the decades from the efforts of thousands of volunteers. When you get bored with everyday life, seek out a trail that needs help, or one that needs building. Nineteen years after my long walk, I still miss the AT. But I draw some solace from the work I've done, not only on the AT, but on the 31 miles of trail that have been built and maintained in my small coastal Maine town, some on land owned by others. Some on the 800 acres acquired by our tiny town land trust -- mostly after I left the trail in 1993. I've been amazed at what a small group of dedicated people can achieve.

THEmapMAKER
12-26-2011, 16:42
Become a farmer

SwitchbackVT
12-29-2011, 17:11
Beware...March will be a TOTAL bitch!

geek

I'm already getting Springer Fever BAD and it's not even January yet. It's been 4 months, 10 days, 6 hours since Katahdin, and I'm jonesin. I've been looking at all my pics from this summer, scanning youtube for familiar faces and places, and gearing myself for Spring. The JMT is calling me next...then hopefully the PCT, either in sections or as a thruhike. Then it's just a matter of time before the AT pulls me back home.

For now I'm working part time and applying to grad school to become a teacher. Hitting the books again is hard...but I need a job with lengthy summer vacations!

atraildreamer
12-29-2011, 17:58
I'm from Rhode Island originally as well. The first 25 yrs to of my lived there.

Like you, I had trouble being back.

I got the hell out and moved to Colorado. :)

http://www.pmags.com/after-the-trail--post-trail-re-adjustment (http://www.pmags.com/after-the-trail-%E2%80%93-post-trail-re-adjustment)

I need to write a postscript to the above essay. Still working on the balance, but I did find someone to share m life with (getting married next year).

I was born in Ohio and got transplanted here in RI when I was about 3 weeks old! :eek: I should have got out a lo-o-o-o-ng time ago! :( The state is circling the drain with a clueless Governor and a corrupt legislature. :mad: