Wow, I can’t believe I have been off-trail for nearly 6 months now! The anniversary of my start date is next week, and I have so many mixed emotions, memories and thoughts. A few people have contacted me, asking how things were going now and what I was planning next. While I don’t have all the answers, let me answer what I can…
“Where are you now?”
First and foremost, I am back in Maryland. I spent a good 2-3 weeks with my parents, in Michigan, but knew I needed a paycheck. I was able to obtain a job with my previous employer, similar to what I was doing before I left, although at a slight demotion. But at that point, a paycheck was a paycheck, so I took the job. I don’t know how long I will stay in Maryland, but for now, I am here. I have also continued my membership with the ambulance service I volunteer with, providing whatever level of EMS skill I can to the situation at hand. Unfortunately, that mean the beard had to go. I do miss it, though. I am trying to better myself, while still trying to find myself. I will admit that the draw of Colorado, Florida, New York City, Vermont, and Paris have each danced in my head at some point… contradictory to each other, one of these may be my next destination. Who knows.
“How are you doing? Are you settling back in?”
Well, the canned answer is “Yeah, for the most part…” But the reality of it is, no, not at all. When I got off trail, it quickly became apparent that most people expected me to be “the same” as before I left, fitting back in to my previous lifestyle. But I wasn’t, I am not, the same, and don’t want that exact lifestyle. I spend most of my time trying not only to define who I am now, but to figure out how to incorporate who I am now, post-trail, with who I was and the life I led pre-trail, to find a balance of the two. And it’s hard to talk about to anyone who hasn’t done something like this, because as much as they want to be there to help, they really have no clue what I am going through internally. Most days, I walk through tasks like I’m floating in the middle of the ocean – I’m treading water, my head is above the surface, but there’s no rescue ship or land in sight… And while I know everyone expects me to have a great “Come to Jesus” ending, it just hasn’t happened that way for me… not yet, anyways.
“What was your favorite part?”
That would be like asking which star is your favorite in the sky. I had so many wonderful memories, and as the physical pain of the trip fades from memory, those positive memories are growing stronger and stronger. I loved our night on Max Patch. Smoky Mountain National Park was beautiful. Vermont was amazing, as was Maine. I will return to the Whites one day, although to hike the numerous other trails in the area. Hands down, my favorite three days were the days hiking with my dad – we didn’t have any terrific views, the hills were a tad monotonous, but hiking with my original backpacking partner again was a great experience. And I am sure as I go through my camera and review photos, I will have a million more “great memories”.
Oye. Who knows. I won’t say a long hike isn’t in my future, but it’s not in my immediate future. I have other things I want to do first. I’ve toyed with selling everything off, buying an old sailboat, and sailing the world for a year or some other epic trip like that. I’ve always wanted to earn my pilot’s license. The PCT is something I have been reading up on. I’ve recently become interested in yoga, and have been invited to attend a Yoga Teacher Training course next summer. And I would love to become a Scuba Instructor. But ultimately, all of these take money I just don’t have. Truth be told, my thru hike was far more expensive than I had planned for and it will be a long, long while before I feel financially secure again. So for now, all “dreams” are on hold and I am just trying to stay afloat without losing my sanity… or filing bankruptcy.
With that in mind, it saddens me to announce that I will be closing down this website, effective mid-April when my service contract expires. While this has been a fun tool for me to stay motivated, it comes at a cost – an annually recurring cost for which I do not make any money from and do not have the money to dedicate to. I have already copied down all of my posts, and if I ever restart the blog, I can upload them back into the history, but for now, this will be my last post here. I may look into free blog hosting sites, but so far, have not been impressed with any of them.
I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you. For those who followed my blog, thank you. For those who followed along via social media, for those who sent me care packages, financial donations, well wishes, and support, thank you. For those who waited at home and were always available with an uplifting phone call or text, thank you. For all who left me a comment, email, text, or letter in an effort to encourage and uplift me, thank you. You have all helped to form and shape this trip, from planning to completion, and I am eternally grateful for each of you.
Remember to always Spin the Compass. I hope to see you out on the trail soon…