I often think about hiking another long trail, and I haven't come up with something that tugs at my heartstrings like the AT did. I had this inherent feeling for a long time that told me I had to hike the AT. Will I ever thru hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)? Probably not, but never say never. What about the Continental Divide Trail (CDT)? Doubtful. I think my long distance hiking will be sections well under 2,000 miles.
A gargantuan reason why I don't think I could spend another 6 months in the woods is because the aftermath is ugly, and I don't think I could do that to myself again. Mentally, I was a wreck and it felt like forever before I recovered; post-trail depression hit hard. I was a bitchy pain in the ass to deal with. It's unanimous among thru hikers, there's just no way to ever convey what we go through emotionally, and why we feel the way we do once it's over - it feels like the death of a best friend. For some reason, my TransAm ride didn't emotionally destroy me in the end - maybe because I kept telling myself I couldn't come home an angry mess again. Recently I talked with a friend who hiked the AT last year. He told me he put on his boots that he summited Katahdin in, and immediately cried. I know exactly what he was feeling.
As much as I yearn for my time on the AT, I will continue to travel via bicycle. I love that it's so accessible and a tour can start right from your front door. I'm not discounting my love of long-distance hiking, I will always have a passion for it, but, well, you get the point.
I think about the TransAm often, and miss the fun that I had, and realize how lucky I was to make such an amazing friend and travel buddy. It's awesome to be able to pick up the phone and say, "Hey, remember the time I pulled over to cry because I was so exhausted, and remember the time we ate brownie sundaes bigger than our heads, or remember the time we had to swing hammers to construct a bed in a teepee, and hey, remember when you went to pedal away and fell in the middle of the street because your tire blew right after we ate lunch at 8 am in that weird restaurant, and took gravel naps, and got chased by that coyote that could have chewed our asses off, and when I taught you how to shit in the woods, and how we used to pretend our loaf of bread had just come out of the oven because the sun was baking it to death on the back of your bike, and, and...?" and giggle as the conversation leads to more current things in our lives. Damn I miss that trip.
Next summer should bring more bicycle adventures, and I have a few ideas brewing. Stay tuned, if anyone is out there still reading my nonsense.
Cheers. Now go have an adventure, 2-wheeled or otherwise.
Photos: A recent section hike on the AT with my thru hiker friends. (Rocket and I hiked the whole trail together, and we befriended Beav somewhere in Virginia). And yes, we call each other ONLY by trail names still.