We've all been warned about the post-hike blues once the trail ends, but nothing can quite prepare you for the full onset of sorrow you experience. It doesn't make sense, right? I mean you're emerging out of this unspeakable beauty, you have countless new friends, you're in the best shape of your life and you can now open a beer bottle with one eye-socket. Meanwhile, you find yourself in tears... constantly. What could be so bad?
I think there is this ironic feeling of being alone. Imagine that. On trail, I could go days without seeing a single human, yet I felt like an intimate part of a community. I joined a new family. Even if I didn't see them, I could estimate how far a hiker was ahead of me by seeing a shoe print. We were all part of something huge. It came to an end on the Mexican Border.
I also think there is a physical reaction our bodies go through. We must be releasing 5 billion endorphins an hour on the trail. Once you go home, you want to sleep 20 hours a day for 3 weeks straight while eating the fattiest foods imaginable. And you do it. Or, at least I did it. Probably not a good idea.
What's my advice for future hikers?
- Expect it and embrace it! Just know that depression is common after a hike and ride it like a big fat weather storm on trail. You remember how good it feels when the sun emerges.
- Let your peeps know what your going through. Come on, they are all so proud of your accomplishment already and most likely, they will want to learn more and continue to support you.
- Reach out to your trail pals... they're probably feeling the same way and nothing is better than a little confirmation that you are not crazy while you both get to talk about whats going on.
- Continue exercising... laziness and bad food is fine when you're hiking a marathon a day, but can really bring you down in your old routine.
- Go for another hike. Duh!