Manning ParkSep 08 2017

One year later

Map thumbnail of location

It's been one year since I reached Canada.

I kept telling myself I'd do a post a month later, or a quarter later, or ... but here we are, and I'm going to write this.

An entire year has gone by, and it's been one hell of a year. I spent a few months roaming around the world, sightseeing and meeting new people. I visited friends; pre-PCT, PCT, and post-PCT. I spent a month rafting the Grand Canyon. I got a new job and moved to Norway.

Boating and fishing with CharlieBoating and fishing with Charlie
Wandering around RomaniaWandering around Romania
GQ and PeanutGQ and Peanut
Nick, Evan, and JB exploring the Grand CanyonNick, Evan, and JB exploring the Grand Canyon

I spent a year trying to outrun my post-trail depression. Unsuccessfully, but it's still been a great year, filled with amazing people.

It's not an exaggeration to say that I think about the Trail every day. Not because I'm moping around and feeling sad; it comes up in places I don't expect it. I'll be in IKEA rebuying all the crap that one "needs", and find myself with an unshakeable aversion to it. "I don't need this junk," I'll tell myself. "Remember when everything I had was less than 58 liters? And I used that to literally climb mountains every day?"

GQ, Peanut, and mOnk, on top of the Continental United StatesGQ, Peanut, and mOnk, on top of the Continental United States

I still talk to Peanut a lot; it's hard to find other people who Get It. (Plus, he's awesome and just such a wonderful person). He sent me a post that his friend @jesskraft posted on Instagram, and it's something I can't stop thinking about. I'm reposting it here in full because I don't want her to close her account and lose the content, but I recommend you swing over to Instagram and check out her feed.

Being a thru-hiker is like being a captive orca, born and raised in a tank at Sea World. One day you are put in one of those ocean pens, the big ones for orcas they want to try to rehabilitate and return to the wild. For the first time in your life, you're in the ocean! You're home and, while not completely free, you can sense how big and wild it is. You have room to move, room you never realized you lacked back in the tank. You live out there for five months, interacting with other orcas (also from sea world) and other marine creatures. You can't live fully free in the ocean because you would die out there; you have no idea how to survive totally on your own, but you can sense how vast it is, how amazing life would be if you were free. You feel so alive, no longer having to perform tricks for trainers and crammed in such a small, lifeless space. 

Then, one day, you're put back in the tank. And you suddenly realize that your entire life you've been captive, trained to perform tricks in a small, crowded tank devoid of life except for other captive orcas. The other orcas ask you how your trip was, what it was like. You have no idea how to describe what you experienced and no idea how to tell them what you know now. To tell them there is so much more to life outside the tank, that they are unwitting prisoners unable to live full lives like wild orcas. You're depressed, but they tell you to get used to being back in the tank, that this is the REAL world and that pen in the ocean was just something fun you did that one time. 

But you know. You felt the tides, met incredible creatures, were no longer controlled by trainers.

And every once in a while another orca comes back and you look at each other and wonder... How do we get out this tank? And how do we wake up the others?

Author: Kristin Marie.

You can go anywhere you want. Your legs will carry you -- if you dare to take that first step.You can go anywhere you want. Your legs will carry you -- if you dare to take that first step.

One year ago today, I became a member of a very elite group of hikers: thru hikers of the PCT in 2017, one of the hardest years on record.

One year ago tomorrow, I became a homeless man in Vancouver, with a single set of filthy clothes that didn't fit on his withered frame.

Today, I'm home -- camping in an absolute downpour.

Tomorrow, I'm going back in the tank.

Home sweet home.Home sweet home.