It has been six weeks since I finished the PCT. In general, I am doing well, and I am doing much, much better than I was at this time after my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Partly this is due to not having to return to the same job that was not good for me in the first place, partly because the PCT is not as hard on the body as the AT is, and largely because I now have yoga to help heal my body and keep my mind strong. I feel like I gained even more inner fortitude after this last hike and can see that I am less affected by other people’s behavior than before I started the hike. I am also not eating as much sugar as I did after the AT and thus not gaining as much weight! Some feeling is already beginning to return to bits of my toes and the balls of my feet (at first- it’s not a good feeling!). I’ve even gone for a few jogs, although I know it’s not good for my body. I really, really wish I could run because I love it so much. But my twisted spine and twisted hip don’t agree, unfortunately.
What remains very difficult is the loneliness that I feel in the non-hiking world. I did not have a celebration after the AT, so I really, really looked forward to having one after the PCT. When I was hurting the most in the Sierras, thoughts of a finish celebration with chocolate cake, champagne, and lots of fruit helped keep me going. But, it turns out that no such thing has happened, and this greatly saddens me. Forty-five minutes of driving from the city to my apartment is too much for most people, or they are too busy with other things. While no one can be blamed for being busy and needing to earn a living, the fact that only one couple came to visit me for dinner and two others hung out with me for an hour in the six weeks that I have been home is deeply disappointing to me. I came back from a five-month long journey of challenges and experiences, full of life, and wanting to share what I had gone through. As much as I understand how hard it is for anyone who has not had a similar experience to relate, it is still difficult to comprehend why no one has time to even try to listen or spend any quality time with me.
What is perhaps even more disappointing is a similar disconnection from my fellow thru-hikers. I really hoped that we would be there for each other in the recovery process, but as soon as we are no longer in the same physical space, it seems hard for people to communicate in any way other than general postings on Facebook. I talked to Muk Muk once since we finished the trail and it was the best thing to find out that she was also finding it nearly impossible to get out of bed before 11! (And especially when she was such an early riser on the trail!). I looked forward to regular calls and hoped we could team up or at least inspire each other on creating a new path in life, but that has not happened (yet, anyway).
And so, I’ve had to come to terms with the reality of this isolated world and instead, just try to motivate myself to get working on things I need to do, like writing up my PCT story and trying to find a new path for myself.