Life After the Trail

October 10, 2017

Hey there! I feel like it’s been forever since I wrote a blog post, but it has really only been about a week and a half. Wow, how time flies. It feels a little weird to be officially done with the PCT. It has been our life for so long and now, all the sudden, we’re just done. Whether we wanted to be or not. And thrown back into normal life. Whether we wanted to or not. So now that we’re a week and a half out from hiking every day, I thought I would let you guys know how readjustment to real life is going.

First off, I don’t know if we can say we are fully immersed back into real life yet. After getting off the trail we spent about a week driving all over California, visiting with friends and family, relaxing, and celebrating our accomplishment. We went to the ocean, swam in the Colorado River, saw an Angels baseball game, climbed Mt. San Jacinto, walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, saw an impromptu airshow from the Navy Blue Angels, ate a bunch of food, and had a lot of fun. We finally made it back to our hometown of Redding a few days ago, went to a wedding, saw family, and started getting our lives back together.

Life after the trail has been both good and bad. It is so fun to have the opportunity to do what we want every day. Every day on the trail, our itinerary is planned out for the day: walk. But now every day is open to do whatever it is we want to do with it. But this can also be a little overwhelming. What to eat, where to go, what to do, where to work. So many options all the sudden after having very limited options for almost six months. I find it very hard to sit still. I am so used to spending all day on my feet, being proactive on the trail, that I have to move all day or else I feel totally useless. Whether it’s working out, cooking, cleaning, running errands, answering blog questions, fixing things around the house, I have to stay busy. I suppose this is both a good and bad thing. I know that there are so many things I want to accomplish and have been inspired to pursue and having a proactive lifestyle will help me to do those things. But it can also be a little nerve-racking and I’m having a hard time relaxing.

Our bodies are in amazing cardiovascular shape after the trail and our legs and core are stronger than ever. We are starting to trail run again, and runs that used to kick our butts, don’t even break a sweat anymore. We are going to try and utilize this time in our lives when our bodies are in peak condition and continue to run and hike and maybe even train for a race. A trail race that is, after spending months hiking through the wilderness, running on pavement for more than a few miles is just ridiculously boring. We have started to do some strength training again and our bodies are definitely feeling it. Talk about sore muscles. We are hobbling around the house like it was our first few days on the trail. I did like 60 pushups and couldn’t even put my hands over my head the next day.

I have surprisingly been sleeping great since getting off the trail. My body must be catching up on all the hours of restless sleep I had on the trail. Eating has not been as successful. Meat, fruit, and veggies are kicking my butt. My body is used to eating simple carbs and then walking them off all day. Eating anything with protein and fiber and then having it sit in my body as we sit in the car driving all day is not working out too well. I’m trying to find a happy medium between slowly reintroducing healthy food into my body since I figure I can’t live off poptarts forever and eating food that is not going to upset my stomach. I just have to be ok with knowing it is going to be a slow process. My body is also used to eating small meals often throughout the day so anytime I eat even a normal sized American meal, I feel stuffed and very uncomfortable. Colton, on the other hand, seems to be able to eat anything and everything and be ok. He ended up losing 27 pounds over the length of the whole trail and he is doing everything in his power to put that weight back on. Spending every day with him on the trail, I didn’t really notice the weight change in him, but everyone that we run into now that we’re back comment on his weight loss and it is definitely something that is on his mind a lot. He is obsessed with adding the weight back on as quickly as possible. I keep trying to remind him that while he might be slim, he is in incredible shape and extremely healthy and not to worry about trying to turn into the hulk.

I think the most unexpected part of after-trail life for me is how unsure I am about the future. Being on the trail gave me a lot of time to think about my life and what I want out of it. When you have that much time to think about life and your goals and ambitions, it makes you realize what is and isn’t important in life. I believe that everyone in life has one purpose and our ultimate goal is to figure out what the purpose is and to do everything in our power to pursue that purpose and make it our life’s work. And I think that each of our purposes is whatever makes us feel happiest and fulfilled. On the trail I realized what things make me feel happiest. Being outdoors, exercising, helping people, and exploring the unknown are what make me feel happiest. Coming back home to Redding was both comforting to have a place to call home again and know what to expect, and also scary knowing that my purpose might not be staying here. I have had a lot of time to think about what I am going to do for a job or a career after the trail and while I know what makes me happiest, I don’t know exactly how I can make a career or life out of those things, especially here in Redding. But I know that if I keep doing things that I love that eventually everything will work out how it is supposed to.

Before going on the trail I have been a night owl my entire life and anything but a morning person. Even as a kid, I would lay in bed for hours at night waiting to fall asleep. I worked at Starbucks for years and had to be at work at 4:30 AM and still could never get used to getting up early. But somehow five months on the trail has completely changed me. Midnight is now way too late for me and waking up early is the best feeling in the world. Before the trail I would get off work anywhere between 9:00 PM and 1:00 AM and would consequently eat dinner late and not get to bed until very late and wake up late. Now the idea of staying up past 11:00 sounds horrible.

So in conclusion, life after the trail is going to be a bit of an adjustment process. It is both exciting and scary. It is exciting because I have the opportunity to do whatever I want with my life and scary, because I am not sure what that is going to be. The trail definitely gave me a new perspective on life and gave me the urge to spend my time from here on out pursuing my passions. I think it is very important to have a goal after the trail, along with anytime in life, to give us something to work towards. Since the trail basically used up all of our savings are first goal is going to be finding jobs and then hopefully finding ways to pursue our passions. The PCT was one thing on the bucket list, but there will always be a million more things. And I can’t wait to start checking more of those things off.


9 thoughts on “Life After the Trail

  1. Wait. “Normal life”, “Real life”? I thought you had gained perspective on the trail, but now I am going to have to suggest that you go hike it again. LOL.

    I lost a little over 10% of my body weight on the trail (starting at 145, so not that much to lose) and I only did 1200 miles. I don’t think gaining that much weight again fast is as dangerous as losing it fast, but tell Skittles not to worry about it. The body will figure out it’s not on the trail and adjust, but it might take a little more than 10 days.

    Good luck on your job search and next adventures. I still think fighting fires for the Forest Service matches the four things you mentioned that make you happy about as good as anything. The way things have been going, we need more fire fighters for the foreseeable future.

    Got smoke? Here on the coast it is pretty smokey with some light ash-fall. I thought fire season was over, but I guess we still have a ways to go.

    Happy Trails,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jenn, Just by the fact that you and Colton persevered through the trials of thru-hiking the trail you have demonstrated that you can do whatever you set your mind to. You’ll figure out what the next step(s) are and I have no doubt you will pursue those goals with the same focus and determination as the trail! And I hope you will take us along on that journey, whatever it is. As to your gut: you might consider adding a probiotic for a few weeks and see if that will “normalize” your digestive process. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your adventure on the PCT has been an eye opening inspiration to me! I came across a video about the PCT a few years ago and ever since then I have done nothing but fantasize about taking the trip myself. Your pictures have sealed the deal for me! Im not sure I would be able to thru hike it (due to having young children and being gone from them that long) but if I could that would be amazing. At the very least I have plans to section hike it and can not wait until my dream becomes a reality! Congratulations to you both for making it thru one of the difficult years when most were unable to! I loved your blog and lived vicariously thru your adventure. Good luck in your next step in life one shoe in front of the other ❤✌☺

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jenn, while I agree with most of your insights on your post tail blog, I differ on one point. I dont think everyone has just one true calling. I think that you might have numerous callings in both vocation and advocation. You never know how your passions might inspire others. Reading about your path in life so far I have confidence in your abilities to soar to new heights!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. HI Jenn. I agree with Jeff. I believe. There are many roads in life, and not just one, is the right one. The important thing in life is to be happy, I just got my PCT 2018 Calendar today, and I think some of your pictures should have been in there, if not all twelve months. I still miss reading your daily blog. You have inspired me to do volunteer work on the PCT near my home, and it’s been fun.
    I wish you, and Colton all the happiness, and success in the world, wherever your feet take you. And thank you for letting me, us be a part of your PCT journey.

    Liked by 1 person

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