While finishing a thru-hike is an extremely difficult thing to complete, the real challenge is after your done. How do you stay that airy, stress-free, fit as a fiddle, best version of yourself?
Ill be honest, after my first thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail I failed in utilizing the best version of myself. Instead I started dwelling over what I missed about the trail.
While ‘real life’ is wonderful, it can be overwhelming. If you don’t have a strong idea of how you want to live, you can easily get swept into the sea of life. One where judgements, distraction, and noise overtakes you and suddenly you feel lost.
So now it has been over 2 months since finishing the Pacific Crest Trail. Everyone always wants to know PCT vs AT and I will just say my experiences were extremely different. I was 25 years old on the AT and 29 on the PCT and let’s just say I did a lot more soul searching on the PCT. I’ve come back with the knowledge that if I don’t actively make choices to remain true to who I am and strive for my best version that I will easily slip back into someone I don’t know or respect.
All this sounds good, but let’s be real. What exactly does this look for me now?
Step 1) I got off social media
For me it had become about dwelling on past experiences. I was unable to be productive, using it as a false sense of productivity. Honestly that was a huge step in the right direction for my life.
Step 2) Taking my time
This is more a lifestyle change about how I view life. No longer do I see tasks such a brushing teeth, cooking, figuring bills out, and everything in between as things to just ‘get done.’ These are the tasks that fill our days and if we look at them to just rush through then what are we waiting to get to next? After not being able to wash my toothbrush properly on the trail, I fully appreciate the running water, ample toothpaste, and the multiple swish and spits that are so accessible with a sink.
Step 3) Communicating
Of course our days are filled with noise and chatter, but how many times are you giving those around you your full attention? How many times are you actively listening to one another? I admit to having poor listening skills. I really have to be ready to have a conversation if I’m going to recall information told to me. After our hike, spending 5 1/2 months constantly together I learned the difference between talking and conversing. It is easy to live beside one another but it takes effort to really live an engaging life together; making each other a priority.
Step 4) Embracing A Good Sense of Humor
The trail with Jake repaired my hearty sense of humor. I realized I had become way too serious as I was growing older. It was a challenge to balance coming out of my immaturity and into adulthood. In that transition I lost a lot of that goofiness that is my nature. Reflecting on the hike made me realize the parts of myself that are genuine to me while still growing up and being responsible.