Yesterday, I sent my Long Trail journal and End-to-Ender certification paperwork to the Green Mountain Club to officially be included in this year’s list of Long Trail through hikers. I sent in the paperwork for the AT and PCT after I hiked them, but the Long Trail has the extra fun bonus of my journal being entered into the archives at the Vermont Historical Society. Along with all the other Long Trail journals, mine is now a historical document. I wish I had written something in it that actually made it worth reading generations down the line. Maybe next time.
|Just add stamps, and it’s on its way!|
Reading my old hiking journals always surprises me. Looking back at an AT through hike, you see yourself in an idealized past– badass hiker, endless appetite, constant freedom. Reading the journal, it’s all pain and complaining. There’s very little about the views (maybe because those are documented in the photos), or about the day to day routines that you will eventually forget. Looking at my Long Trail journal, I was surprised again, only four months later.
I remember the Long Trail being a most wonderful hike. Everything went remarkably well, I met dozens of really great people, and I had plenty of time to wander in the woods in the company of my thoughts. My journal tells me I was worried about the future with poor prospects for employment; I suffered from a handful of days of gastrointestinal distress; I tore up my feet at the end of the first week and had problem blisters for most of the last week; I got sick of the attitudes of the party crowd on the AT. But even then, I knew the complaints were minor in comparison to all the good that was going on. Every day that I hiked in meditative silence seemed like a gift. Even just two weeks of hiking had me totally addicted to the nomad lifestyle again. Coming home was hard.
|I guess it wasn’t all sunshine and roses on the Long Trail.|
Most long distance hikers can probably relate to that feeling. When you get home, all wearied and broken and sick of hiking, it takes about a day before the post-hike depression sets in. Two days ago you wanted nothing more than a normal life, a different path, a bed, a car, a kitchen. But today you have all that and instead of relief, you’re terrified of the new prospects of making money, paying rent, filling your gas tank, having to make more decisions than just where to camp for the night.
I’ve been in Keene for the past three and a half months, settled into a routine, and feeling better than after my other two big hikes, but things are still different. I have two jobs, one real one and one where I am my own boss, but there’s still lots of uncertainty ahead. I can’t just follow white blazes. I can’t even follow a herd path. I’m forging ahead on my own, hoping I end up where I want to go. It’s exciting, but it takes all of my time and all of my brainpower.
Sometimes I worry that devoting so much of my time to programming is taking away all of my will to write the blog, or to wander away into the woods and explore. In the past few months, my creative impulses for writing have been drained into the programming of iPhone apps, as has much of my time for hiking. I just promise myself (and Yvonne) that by working so frantically now, I’ll have more time for other things in the winter and summer.
So I take a bit of time now and then to go for a quick walk up Monadnock, or to write here. But mostly it’s work work work. The nice thing is, I still enjoy it. Just like any of those trails where my journals only tell of the pain, I still see plenty of good times.