Home, taking a deep, satisfying breath. Home. That’s how it feels to have returned to the part of the world we feel most connected too.
But let’s rewind a little. We arrived to Connecticut, having finished our last days on the trail as potential thru hikers in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. We were confident in our decision to finish the trail at the spiritual half way point and the 1019 mile mark. As it turns out, we made the absolute right decision. Sometimes you can’t truly know if the decision you made is the right one until some time later, when you have time to let it sink in. We started out hibernating at Quailman’s parents house. For those of you who were at our wedding, you’ll know exactly why this was a wonderful place to decompress. We enjoyed many relaxing mornings of coffee with Bill, Quailman’s Dad. We got a taste as to what Sandy, Quailman’s Mom, does every day for a living as a Master Gardener. We enjoyed delicious dinners, glasses of wine, and plenty of “House of Cards” in the afternoon and night. We slept a lot and even ran a few times a week even though our joints were screaming at us to give it a rest. It was wonderful.
We decided it was time to start entering the world after a couple of weeks of cocooning. We began apartment searching more intensely. We went on a short but great trip to Massachusetts where we saw some of my family and picked up our car. My Nana graciously kept an eye on it while we were gallivanting in the woods. Quailman began his very intense job search that has kept him busy for hours and hours every day.
It’s truly amazing how, as much as we all might like to think we function just fine on our own, how much our success is because of the support from those around us. As I type this out, I can’t help but think of how every single one of you were part of our journey. Whether it was the generous wedding gifts that helped to fund that extra stay at a hostel on a horrible weather day, my Nana watching our car, a visit from my own parents twice on the trail where they spoiled us with big meals, care packages and gift cards, words of encouragement on our blog posts, Eric’s parents who let us stay with them for however long we wanted, and most recently, our friends and family who helped us move into our new apartment.
After all was said and done, it was time for us to head out on another little backpacking trip with my brother Josh and my husbands and I mutual friend, Bryan. We planned to do the last section of Connecticut into the first part of Massachusetts. We’ve hiked most of this portion of the Appalachian trail before and knew it would be just challenging enough and also beautiful. We hit multiple mountain peaks, hiked by a river in a ravine, walked along the ridge of Race Mountain, took a long dip in a lake in the middle of the mountains, and even saw a historical monument. We absolutely loved sharing our journey with our family and friends. It was really awesome to be able to tell them everything we had learned and to have them experience a taste of what our life was like for the past three months. We were unbelievably impressed by both of them. Josh, Kristin’s brother, was ridiculously adept at hopping along rock fields that were wet from rain. He would be waiting for all three of us for minutes as we tenderly made our way across the slick rocks. Bryan was speedy Gonzalez over flat terrain. He’d speed ahead of us and then wait as we all leisurely made our way forward. They were great company in the woods and it was really nice having that much time with both of them after having been away for three months. We are also really excited to have future backpacking partners now that they both have all the gear needed for an impromptu backpacking trip.
What was also amazing about this trip, was that it confirmed for us we no longer wanted to be in the woods that long. By the end of our 4 day trip, we were absolutely ready to go back to our comfy apartment and were completely done with hiking. This was clearly affirming for us. A month after leaving the trail, we still have no regrets for our decision. We are so happy to be home and have decided that for us, being section hikers is the way to go. We feel we can enjoy the trail more this way.
Adjusting back to society has not been nearly as hard as we thought it would be. We have certainly had adjustments, but nothing too intense.
The changes that have occurred in ourselves sometimes surprise us. We didn’t realize some of the changes that occurred until we reentered the world outside the woods. We have a more objective eye as to the messages we are told constantly by our society as to who you should be as a person. This has been fascinating and even overwhelming sometimes. These messages are in obvious places, like billboards, commercials and such. But we realized how much people are walking billboards for companies. We noticed new hairstyles that are clearly popular, new clothing and looks being replicated, the types of make up people wear. Everyone becomes walking billboards for companies to sell their products. Seeing it that starkly was shocking to us. But it also helps us to able to be our most authentic selves. We feel like it is a good thing the more we are able to discern what actions we take because we are told too versus what actions we take because we truly want to take them. Whether it’s something as trivial as the clothes we wear or as large as the morals we embrace and live by. More of our decisions are conscious as a result of the trail and this is one of our mutual goals as a couple; to bring to light as much as we can of our automatic/unconscious decisions and reactions to things and have them be conscious and well thought out instead. I think any step we take away from our everyday life can help with this process and spending that much time hiking and camping, away from societal pressures revealed so much to us.
Other changes we’ve noticed in ourselves are far more patience, not being in as much of rush in day to day life, trusting more in ourselves and our life path, far less judgement of others for the beliefs they hold, running outside when it’s raining to enjoy the free sprinkler, more impromptu walks in any weather, being far more in touch with our physical and mental selves, and appreciating the moment we live in far more than worrying about the moment that is about to occur. The trail has taught us so much and gave us a crash course in quite a few life lessons. It’s something that will forever change us in ways subtle and significant to our own lives.
This will be our last written blog post. We will post the last of our pictures from the trail and then will not be writing anymore since this blog was meant to explore our journey on the trail this year. In closing, we want to say a resounding THANK YOU!!! Thank you to everyone who participated in our journey.