The image of me here, on a mountain ledge, the wind behind me and Mount Washington in the distance almost completely sums up my happiest memories on my thruhike. I’m completely driven at this moment in time, the weather is fantastic I have the most spectacular views around me, I’m living out a huge dream and its going great and the main thing………. I have one goal……..Katahdin!
Even if at the time I had lots of in between goals, like make it another hour and have a snack, make it 10 more miles and set up camp, get to the summit of Mt Washington and make it through The Whites. The fact of the matter is, I had one massive almost incomprehensible goal that constantly kept me driven. Just like an addict looking for his next hit I had to make those miles, I had to follow those white blazes like that was my drug, and the purest form of that drug was a sign on top of a mountain.
Not just any mountain though.
A mountain so beautiful that its creator decided nothing should hinder its beauty and stood it alone, among the lowlands so it rises up to the skies enigmatically. Katahdin so named by the Penobscot Indians actually means ‘The Greatest Mountain’. To me at this moment of my life it is just that, and I respected it like a god, like I was on a massive pilgrimage to pay respects to my god.
It’s extremely difficult for me to explain just how I felt but I like how I put it way back, before I had even set foot on the trail: quote from thruhiker2013 blog
‘I am completely under the spell of a hiking trail that I have never stepped foot on, never even seen with my own eyes but its got me, its got me with its stories, its trail magic, its trail angels, its customs, its wildlife, its adventure, its hikers, it’s all………. Plane and simple, well and truly its got me under a very strange almost gravitational pull and it will not ease up until I reach Katahdin. ‘
That gravitational pull I mentioned before I had even started was absolutely true, and its origin was most definitely Katahdin! It wasn’t in my mind it was well and truly imbedded in my soul. So what on earth do you do once you have tasted the purest form of your drug of choice. What happens when you have reached the origin of a gravitational pull on your soul, answered a calling, lived out a dream, hiked all the miles, climbed all those mountains, sweated all that sweat………….. What do you do when there are no more white blazes? ……………….simple answer…………………………… I don’t know.
This was a post from a blog I started but then abandoned when I got home. And at that point I was completely lost. I had no idea what was in store for me for the rest of my life, even though the answer was there already, I just didn’t want to admit it to myself.
I had become a thruhiker and that’s not something you are going to shake very easily.
I attempted to. Believe me. I have an amazing wife, great family and friends and it wasn’t in my mind to go leave all that again. So I got home I went back to work and tried my hardest to focus on my life back home. I even jumped out of aeroplanes for a short period back in May/June just to try to take my mind off the niggling feeling in my soul.
It was no good, the niggling became stronger and stronger until post hike depression was in full swing. I wasn’t in a great place, I was fighting against what everything in me was screaming at me to do, but on the surface I was trying to live the normal 9 til 5. I became a trapped thruhiker. Which is basically a trapped animal.
It was no good. I sat down with my wife, who isn’t stupid but I am, so knew already what I had to do, and I said I’m going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
For me hiking and thruhiking have become what I am. I am not a career man, I work because I have to not because I’m making a career out of it. I may have only completed one major thruhike so far, but that was six months of my life, none stop doing something that I was incredibly privileged to be able to do. I haven’t really been able to seriously consider anything else for my future, other than thruhiking. So I guess all that’s left for me to do is give into the fact, that is who I am now.
It’s in my blood and my soul.
I am a thruhiker.