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Re-entering society after a long distance hike
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Ryan Linn

Locale: Maine!
Re: Re: returning from a long trip on 11/05/2010 06:26:14 MDT Print View

I agree, Jack-- re-entry is overrated. Since hiking the AT in 2007, I have never fully re-entered society. Every time I start, it just turns into another temporary situation on the way to the next adventure. The biggest thing for me is to have goals. After the AT it was the New England Trail. After that it was the PCT. After that... well I don't have a major goal set just yet, but it hasn't been very long since the PCT. I'm still working on coming up with the next idea.

And even if the next goal is a house and a job, at least it's something to work toward. If you've just spent several months walking with the end goal of Katahdin or Canada or Mexico or whatever, you're very used to defined goals. It's nice to come back to that same sort of structure once you're done with the trail as well.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: returning from a long trip on 11/05/2010 12:23:11 MDT Print View

If one's goal in life is to string a series a thru hikes together, then it is going to be difficult to re-enter society because the time in society is just enough to plan and execute the next adventure.

It was mentioned that Andrew Surka might have some useful insight. We need to keep in mind that Adventuring is his job, so his experiences might not be completely valid for the rest of us.

If one's goal is to make longer hikes a PART of who we are, then it is easier. My longest hikes did not have a specific route-goal, they were time oriented. I wanted to finish them in 6 months. The goal was just to walk without company, be self-reliant, and enjoy the hike/nature. No big philosophical goal. The first one was to hike from Kernville CA north for 6 months. No set destination. When I got close to Yosemite, I did not like the crowds, so I turned around and retraced the entire route back to Kernville. When I was done, I was ready to go back to work, go to school, read some books, and enjoy my other hobbies.

One a similar note, in 1979 I sold my business and had money in the bank and a lot of free time. I took a multi-month motorcycle trip across the US and back through Canada. I got to the point where I just wanted to ride my motorcycle everyday and camp at night. That period was difficult for me to get back into society, because I did not have to work every day, and I was more interested in riding my bike and visiting places.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: returning from a long trip on 11/08/2010 09:43:22 MST Print View

Wait. Nick. This is not meant to sound disparaging but you spent six months hiking from kernville to ansel adams and back?

Man that's slow! And snowy! I'd love to spend a summer in the sierra..

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: returning from a long trip on 11/08/2010 23:34:56 MST Print View


It was a wonderful trip, the best I have ever done, and I was nearly self-supported on trout, Top Ramen, rice, tortillas, oatmeal, and Kool Aid with cyclomates.

Cyclomates are the milestone that separates generations. A few of us old timers know what it is.

I ate trout almost every day... and it can take time to catch dinner. I usually broke camp around 8 or 9 in the morning and stopped around 3 in the afternoon to fish and enjoy myself. And when I found nice places I stayed for awhile, such as the Kern Plateau where golden trout was plentiful. This was in the days of no wilderness permits and almost no one hiking up Whitney. The only permit required anywhere was a campfire permit. I left Kernville on Apr 1, 1971... so it was very slow going at first!! I got to enjoy 3 seasons; spring, summer and fall. Lots of snow on the ground the first two months, but overall nice weather.

I knew nothing about the JMT or PCT. My only maps were NFS maps. They were free at the Ranger stations and similar to the ones sold today.

BTW I caught 5 species of trout one day below the Forks of the Kern (rainbow, brown, brook, golden, and kokanee salmon).

I did not know that backpacking stoves existed, and I still have (somewhere in the garage) my Boy Scout style "mess kit" and a small pot that I used over camp fires. My pack was a Kelty D4, and I had a Canadian brand down bag. I used a tarp as my shelter. Pants were military wool trousers and I had a Pendleton Wool shirt. Big heavy leather boots with Vibram soles. Can't remember what kind of jacket. Snowshoes were ancient looking things. Rain gear was a poncho, which sometimes doubled as a ground sheet. Still have the Buck knife I took on that trip. I had a conventional spinning reel set-up for fishing. It never dawned on me to weigh my gear, but must have been well over 60lbs at the start and at re-supplies.

My prior backpacking experience were trips in high school with a friend and many solo trips... all in fair weather. I did have extensive military survival training after high school, and before this trip. I walked into Lone Pine (twice) hiking each way for major re-supplies. I did a few other minor re-supplies, but can't remember exactly where. One might have been Mammoth. At the time, I was not very familiar with that part of the Sierras.

I had no goal other than to wander around for about 6 months and that goal was achieved with great success. I knew little about the Sierras other than time in the southern Sierras around Kernville and the Domeland Wilderness. I had some maps and went places that looked interesting... although I had a general idea of where I was going before I started the trip. Basically I hiked some of the most spectacular country in the US, and did not know before hand that it existed. Sort of like when I bought Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band on the first day it was released... never heard a single song on the album, and ended up listening to it over and over for two days... even ditched school to do it.

I had never read anything about backpacking until I finished this trip and picked up the first Complete Walker. Been refining my gear ever since.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: returning from a long trip on 11/09/2010 06:40:32 MST Print View

Great story nick. Thanks for recounting a little. A summer in the sierra is a high priority for me.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: returning from a long trip on 11/09/2010 08:24:42 MST Print View

Yeah, great story Nick. I wish I could find a place to buy a nice thick wool shirt from these days too. they don't seem to exist in the UK any more.

I did a 4 month trip many years ago backpacking and hitchhiking round Europe. Yugoslvia, Italy, Switzerland, France, spain. I had the second year of my degree to come back to. My mind wandered a lot in dull classes.

Brandon Sanchez
(dharmabumpkin) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Mtns
hey jack on 11/09/2010 09:22:50 MST Print View

Wheres the CDT report with pictures? I checked your blog once n a while and it doesn't seem to be working for me right now. Whats the next adventure for you?

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Re-entering society.... on 11/09/2010 18:11:09 MST Print View

Thanks for the shout-out Jacob.

What I've found is that the trick to re-entering society is to define what society is for you.

Doesn't have to be an EITHER/OR choice. I happen to enjoy my friends and my community and I miss them when I leave. Living in CO, I am also fortuante where I don't go play outdoors once every two years..but EVERY weekend. I love the backcountry skiing on a whim, exploring the off-trail peak that is not on any well known trail or

Part of me yearns for the "Next. Big. Adventure." But the Next. Big. Adventure. does not necessarily have to be months at a time. Negotiating unpaid weeks off seems to work for me at this point without having to restart every time I take off. :)

Anyway..HYOH..and live your own life.

Life is not black and white. Living life should be multicolored. :)