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Thread: After Katahdin

  1. #1

    Default After Katahdin

    OK, so I summited Katahdin 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.

  2. #2

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    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 :-)

  3. #3
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    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.
    Order your copy of the Appalachian Trail Passport at www.ATPassport.com

    Green Mountain House Hostel
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    http://www.greenmountainhouse.net

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by cleanshave View Post
    OK, so I summited Katahdin 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.

  5. #5
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    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...-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).
    Paul "Mags" Magnanti
    http://pmags.com
    Twitter: @pmagsco
    Facebook: pmagsblog

    The true harvest of my life is intangible...a little stardust caught,a portion of the rainbow I have clutched -Thoreau

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    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

    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.

  7. #7
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    as stated, life will never be the same for you now...good luck transitioning back to the "real world"...
    Check out my website: www.serialhiking.com

  8. #8

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    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.

  9. #9

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    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.

  10. #10

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    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

  11. #11
    Registered User wcgornto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yappy View Post
    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.

  12. #12

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    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.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  13. #13

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    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

  14. #14

    Default

    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

  15. #15

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    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.
    Some knew me as Piper, others as just Diane.
    I hiked the PCT: Mexico to Mt. Shasta, 2008. Santa Barbara to Canada, 2009.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddlehead View Post
    ... 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.

  17. #17
    Registered User RGB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trailbender View Post
    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.
    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do."

    -Bob Dylan

  18. #18
    ain' nuthin' butta' peanut hambone5126's Avatar
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    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.
    It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.
    -Sir Edmund Hillary

  19. #19
    Registered User weary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trailbender View Post
    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.
    Last edited by weary; 09-19-2011 at 23:28.

  20. #20
    Registered User Sensei's Avatar
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    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
    This is an adventure.

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