*I am not an expert/therapist on this topic**Seek professional advice if needed*
All things come to an end. A very common quote when it comes to ending something. But what does that actually mean to the adventurer or athlete?
Having spent most of my time in the past years with thru-hiking and ultra-running and being also involved in the community, I have heared about the topic many times and I have been there myself.
You catch yourself staring into the blank, you are tired of normal life. You wish you where somewhere else and that your trip would never have ended. You encountered so many inspiring/weird/surprising things during your undertaking, that it is hard to step back from it. You have seen so many places in a short amount of time, that you can not name them all. You have made a ton of new friends along the way.
Finding back into normal routines, lived by so many of us can be hard. You actually dont really want to come back, because you have seen so much from various angles that this normal life sounds not really fulfilling. You pushed yourself to the limit for months to get to your goal and suddenly…. it is all over!
Hiking a long trail can feel like you have been in an pararell universe for months, you feel a deep connection to things you never thought about. You become an observer of what is going on around you but without really being a part of it. All you care about is the trail, your feet, watersources & postoffice & supermarket opening hours.
Sometimes you think about the comforts of home and relaxing on a chouch all day. You dream about eating endless amounts of food and browsing the internet or just simply doing nothing at all. You will be looking forward to get home again from time to time.
And once you are there after a while…the feeling of accomplisment vanishes and you are back at the starting line feeling not that special after all. Thru-hiking broke your heart! (have a look at Carrot Quinn´s book btw)
Advice for novize long-distance hikers & everybody along
- Do not think your adventure will change your life in first place
It might and it will somehow, but this can take month or even years. Dont look for something you might not find out there. Good things will come to you no matter you look or dont look for them.
- Pay attention from the beginning that your adventure will end
Being away for six months from daily routines, while your are on your thruhike may sound like a long time but time flies and your trip is over faster than you might think when starting out.
Your adventure took months or longer to complete! Accept that it will also take time to come back from it.
- Keep yourself busy by doing something
Start working soon after it again, think about a hobby (something you wanted to do for a long time), do sports, continue your training, keep hiking, do smaller trips in your area, go for walks;
This is a great way to receiptulate your endeavor, people are more eager to hear what you have accomplished than you might think. Dont think about an puplisher of your book or article first, just write it! Learn how to take photos and videos, document your adventure and organize presentations in front of an audience. In doing so you might generate money which will help to fund your next thing.
- Talk to your friends and family
Let them know about your feelings, they will understand which will help you in your process.
- Try to let float your findings and knowledgements in daily life
So you found out that thruhikig needs a lot of patience and generosity from strangers? Be patient and generous in your daily life. It will affect your surroundings.
- Do not take yourself too serious
I have learned that „laughing it off“ can be a great thing to get rid of stress during your undertaking. Instead of falling into a hole where everything seems hard and impossible, take it easy and laugh about yourself and what you are doing! I mean it can be really ridiculous to hike the length of a country or run 100 miles! Laugh about it!
- Involve yourself and give back!
Help local trail clubs to maintain trail systems etc, in doing so you can connect yourself in a social way.
- Plan your next „big“ thing (or a smaller intense one)
Not because you want to get away from something, do it because you can and because you just love to be out there.
- Be aware that there is nothing but „the now“
This will help you to understand things a bit and be gratful for them. You have achieved something which brought you here, the now. Work from there on. Step by Step like on your journey. Future will come no matter if you think of it or not.
Get your blood tested and check your vitamin levels and trace elements. Low Iron & Vitamin D3 levels could be a reason why you dont feel very well.
Cut down on sugar and junk food and prepare fresh healthy meals. Start to eat fruit and vegetables daily.
Have you encountered „the post-hike blues“ yourself? What did help you along the way?