Homesick hiker

It has been months since we finished our thru-hike of the Colorado Trail. I wrote the blow-by-blow here on the blog; you might even have read it. What I have been less able to articulate is how the hike has affected me now that I’m back home again.

I still think about it every single day. I didn’t think this would happen to me. If I’m completely honest, I didn’t even really believe I could complete the hike, so I never thought about what would happen when it was over. 

Here’s some of what I think about:

  • Getting back into a warm sleeping bag after a middle-of-the-night pee.
  • Clouds. There are so many different moods to a sky.
  • How easy it was to be with Marc. How we paid attention to each other.
  • Sponge baths in icy water, and then warm thermal underwear after.
  • A trail that I can see for miles ahead, winding off across the tundra.
  • The effort of hiking uphill, poles pushing, mantras cycling through my head.
  • Reaching a summit or a pass and looking back at the trail behind me.
  • Watching the campfire, poking it, feeling the warmth on my face.
  • Sharing a meal from a single pot.
  • The simplicity of knowing exactly what tomorrow would bring.
  • The excitement of having no idea what tomorrow would bring.

I scour the Internet for the Next Big Hike. I dream of buying a camper van and roaming the American Southwest, hiking the desert and mountains.

I’ve been a hiker most of my life. But this hike was different. Maybe it was the scope, maybe the length in time and miles traveled, the uncertainty of the weather and the terrain. I dug deeper and found a power and an ease of being that I didn’t know I had.

The hike taught me that life can be simple and huge at the same time. It can be as exhilarating as reaching a pass and flying down the other side. As satisfying as a handful of almonds and a gulp of fresh, ice-cold water. As uncomplicated as settling into a steady rhythm, setting one foot in front of the other to the soundtrack of birds and squirrels and breath.

What does it say — that I didn’t really believe I could do it, but I went ahead and planned and organized and set off on the adventure anyway? It says I am probably capable of more than I give myself credit for in other areas of my life, as well. I suppose that’s the big takeaway.

Instead of reminiscing I should probably move on and think about other dreams I have that can be broken down into a series of simple elements and then built into reality. I guess any “OMG I can’t do this” whole is just one ordinary step after another on some kind of trail, muscle and bone and will working together. What will be next?

5 thoughts on “Homesick hiker

  1. All I can say is THANK YOU!
    I have really loved reading your journey of the CT, as my husband and I plan our trip for 2016 to complete the CT I am so driven to the challenge!! We have been getting our gear and doing day hikes here in Wisocnsin.

  2. I feel much the same way after my hike this summer. Sometimes I tell people that hiking the CT has “ruined” me for “real” life….

    >>”The hike taught me that life can be simple and huge at the same time.” Yes.

  3. Very interesting!! Your writings are wonderful and vivid of your experiences on the trail!! We hope you both will love RI – we did and miss it as we live in Maine next to U of Maine – graduated from URI a long time ago – live not far from the Maine Appalachian Trail. Our family has hiked it and climbed Mt. Katahdin!! Love camping in the Maine woods!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *