Sunsets and I have been home for 2 1/2 weeks now, since summiting Mt. Katahdin. It’s still weird to say those words – WE SUMMITED MT. KATAHDIN!
Here’s a few initial thoughts we have on being back in “real life:”
- Sleeping in a real bed feels AMAZING, and we have been sleeping like babies every night!
- A shower every day almost seems wasteful. Also, it’s weird not to have to spend a lot of time scrubbing mud off our legs and feet, or washing my hair TWICE just to get to a normal cleanliness level.
- When we meet someone, it’s hard to remember to shake hands instead of fist-bump (on the trail when we met someone we always fist-bumped as a way to not “touch” each other in order try to stay healthy).
- I have to dry my hair and wear makeup now? NO THANKS (have only done twice since being home).
- Our knees and feet still ache, mostly when we get up from a sitting/laying down position – we hobble around like old people (heard this takes a month or more to get over). Getting out of bed in the morning is seriously hilarious.
- It’s awesome to have real chairs to sit in! Even if they are hard. The cushy ones are a dream.
- When someone says “go west,” we immediately turn left (in our guidebook, west was always left, and east was always right).
- Coffee every morning is a wonderful thing. Also ice water!!
A lot of people have asked us about post trail depression (PTD). It’s interesting, because PTD is a very real thing. In fact, all of the past thru-hikers that we have either followed or read their books have seemed to experience this on some level; and we have already seen it in some of our hiker friends from this year. There is for sure a feeling of let down after it is all over. We lived on the trail and in the woods for half a year(!) and worked hard and long to achieve our goal of thru-hiking the whole Appalachian Trail (2,189.8 miles). We went days without showering (7 was our max) and got dirty or muddy almost every day. We slept in our tent almost every night, and spent time with fellow hikers eating Knorr rice sides or instant mashed potatoes for dinner over our stoves. We saw beautiful flowers in their natural habitat. We saw snakes, newts, bears, and moose. We fell in love with the quiet and peacefulness (no cars or loud noises or huge groups of people). We hiked in the heat, humidity, cold rain and snow; we hiked over roots, rocks, mud and climbed LOTS of boulders. We trained our bodies to walk over 20 miles a day. And we did this ALL with like-minded fellow hikers we met along the way – of all ages. We were all in the same boat, doing the same thing every day, and this was how we all immediately bonded. I can understand how some hikers have a hard time going back to “real life.”
So now that our AT thru-hike is over, Sunsets and I have been settling into a quiet but nice life in central Wisconsin. We are doing great and have had no issues with depression, at least so far.
Why no post trail depression?
First of all, we are not “spring chickens” — we are in our mid-40’s, have been married for 22 years, like to think we are mature, and we were already happy with our lives before we did the AT. We didn’t do the AT to “find ourselves” or work through any past issues. We did the AT for the challenge and because we like hiking together.
Second of all, we are not going back to “that same old depressing cubicle or corporate job.” Sunsets and I made the decision back in 2013 to quit our stressful jobs and live a more simple life style (you can read about our story here and here).
We know what we want to do next, it is exciting for us, and a lot of our plans revolve around hiking or the AT (writing books, business development and living by the AT in the future). We talk in more detail about our plans in our current Q&A video #2).
We used the whole time we were on the trail to think about what was next, so we were already thinking about the future and looking forward to it after our hike. The trail was definitely a HUGE thing for us, and we are so proud of ourselves that we did it! Never once did we talk about quitting (though we had several days of pain, blood and tears). It was the adventure and challenge of a lifetime, and we did it! We will for sure remember our hike with great fondness, nostalgia and joy.
So, what have we been doing since we got home?
Enjoying our favorite Costa Rican coffee (1820), compliments of our friends Christina & Rod:
Drinking fine wine and celebratory champagne, from our friends on the west coast, Sarah & Matt (also note my cute “JB” hat from my pal Greg Pekas!):
Visiting my brother and his family in northern Wisconsin (this is my niece, Ashley):
HIKING! We started walking/hiking after taking a week off, trying to get in between 4-6 miles a day. Pictured here with long-time friend of my mom’s (and my grade school friend Michelle’s mom), Connie. You may also notice the white blaze (not sure how that got here, in Wisconsin!).
Starting my Costa Rica Chica Arm Candy business back up — I make bracelets, bookmarks (pictured here top right), anklets, necklaces and more!
Getting some wheels! Mom has been SO kind to share her car with us before and after the AT, but it was time to get our own car (found a great deal on this cute little ‘15 Prius, you can’t beat 50 miles to the gallon!):
We were interviewed for a podcast by Mighty Blue on the Appalachian Trail, you can listen to us talking about our journey here.
Stay tuned! We will be doing future videos and blog posts on all things hiking and AT – gear reviews, more question & answer videos, and hopefully some interviews with fellow thru-hikers!
Cheers! — Chica & Sunsets