Back to the Real World: Now What?

Thoughts and observations collected after walking 2,650 miles in the wilderness…

My feet STILL hurt.

It’s been almost 5 weeks now since we finished the Pacific Crest Trail and my feet are still swelling and aching. Usually pain comes first thing in the morning, when I’m at rest, if I walk too much (go figure) and when I sit for long periods of time.

Not exactly sure how long this recovery will take.

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It’s really loud.

Driving, television, radio, restaurants, music, talking on the phone, busy streets, coffee dates, weddings, family visits, crowds of people… Right now, the quietest place I can find is in my shower. 

Activity Decreases.

I went from hiking 12-14 hours a day to 1 hour of focused exercise a day (if I’m lucky). Before we embarked on this adventure, I thought I was a pretty active person hiking on the weekends and training for marathons. But even if I had a 20 mile run, that’s still only a couple hours out of my day moving.

I get why sitting is the new smoking. You don’t have to run marathon and you certainly don’t have to walk from Mexico to Canada. Just move.

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I think about the trail every day.

There’s something about living with what you can carry and sleeping under the stars every night. Life was simple and every day was FULL! I saw and experienced so much in a 24 hour period. I was never bored, always challenged and felt spiritually connected.

I experienced profound, unexpected kindness from complete strangers – some became friends, some I don’t even know their real name and others I will never get to see again. People entered my life, blessed me, inspired me, befriended me – and then one lunch break later, we never saw each other again.

I learned to turn fear of the unknown into an exciting and positive experience. In the real world, that’s something I would normally stress about, but out there, it was always an adventure.

I could talk about the trail all day…

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I miss my husband.

Jake and I were together, joined at the hip, hiking single file, for 4.5 months. The conversations we were able to have, the laughter, the trials we faced, the simplicity we lived, the exhaustion we shared, the trust and relationship we built… I will never forget those moments. The trail will forever be a part of us and he will always be my Jake Rabbit.

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Decreasing calories has been an adjustment.

Going from 5,000+ calories a day to 2,000(ish) throws your body into a whirlwind. No, you can’t eat whatever you want anymore.

I can’t talk.

Jake and I talked to each other all the time but never to the extent where our voices went hoarse. Now that we’re back to reality with jobs, coffee dates, family visits, weddings, church – I’m talking a lot!

We’re also struggling to explain the trail in its entirety. So far, it goes a little something like this:

“How was the trail?”

“It was incredible!”

“Nice.”

How am I supposed to sum up a 2,650 mile journey????? Talking is hard.

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The news is shocking.

Social media, politics, news, TV – it hits you pretty hard after taking a 5-month break.  Ignorance is bliss I guess.

Fruits and veggies are life.

I missed FRESH food. It was hard not having access to fresh fruit and veggies, dairy, lean meats or eggs. Even if you did have access to fresh food, you couldn’t pack it with you. It’s too heavy and only keeps for a couple days.

Eating wholesome again is a total blessing. I won’t be eating tuna packets, instant mashed potatoes, trail mix or peanut butter anytime soon. No thank you.

Gratitude.

My Grandpa was one of those people who expressed thankfulness and gratitude where ever he went. My Grandpa loved the Lord, lived for the Lord and this summer, he went home to be with the Lord. He chose a thankful heart to better glorify Him.

God walks with us through every situation, every experience, every trial, every blessing.

This journey and my Grandpa’s passing taught me the importance in appreciating the little things, NEVER taking what you have for granted, and being thankful in every circumstance.

 

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18 thoughts on “Back to the Real World: Now What?

  1. What a beautiful summary of an experience that will be apart of you & Jake forever!
    In many ways, that’s how I felt when training for Ironman races. The quiet solitude of hours on the road, beautiful scenery & discovering true friendships during those years. It’s hard to express into words, but those were some of my favorite memories.
    What an inspirational you two have spread to everyone you’ve encountered, friends & family too!
    Love & peace

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Over a year after my thru-hike, I still think about the trail every day, the world is still too loud, and I still hate peanut butter. It sticks with you (the trail, I mean, although the peanut butter too.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So often we hear about the excitement people share in build-up to a significant experience. Then we hear about the experience itself. But seldom do we hear about the lessons learned along the way, and particularly not about the readjustments faced following the end of that experience. You have given us a rare look into your whole PCT experience through writing and pictures — from beginning to end, and after. Wow! I feel blessed to have come along vicariously. God bless you both. Love, Grandma

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful words written by a very wise and beautiful woman. I am so glad that you and Jake were able to experience such an adventure together. These experiences are something that will stick with you both forever. Treasure them. I am so proud of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is all spot on. Like reading my own thoughts. Real life is such a tough thing to tackle after such an amazing experience. Keep on truckin! Hopefully your feet feel better soon, mine have definitely improved (still not fully healed though).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonder insights from such an adventure. I can understand how all of the external stimulus can put one into overload after the peace and quiet of the trail. Hope your feet adjust back to normal!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I will miss you both as well as Beth said. I feel like I got to know both of you through your trip in life.
    Your soul is solid. Your story telling was amazing.
    Most of all I feel you both are great human beings.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Christina, please don’t ever stop writing on this blog! I/ we love reading your words! I sense the reason you can’t answer anyone’s questions about the trail is because it was all emotion, everyday full of different emotions…..gratitude and your steadfast faith being just two! We are so happy you conquered the PCT with your partner in life, “Jake Rabbit!” ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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