1. While I don’t miss hiking 25-30 miles a day, I sure do miss the ability to eat anything I wanted to from hiking that many miles. (Not that I could always eat what I wanted anyway, as our days rarely ended in towns, but it was still nice to know I could have eaten what ever I wanted; I carried all the m&ms and reeces pieces that I could carry!)
2. I definitely don’t miss the cravings that I’d have all day while walking. I’d think about food like pop, chips, milkshakes, French fries, pizza, fresh fruit (I had to put something healthy in there)…you name it, and I probably thought about it along the way. When you’re hungry and thirsty all the time, it’s pretty hard to avoid craving the things you can’t have (or at least can’t carry on your back).
3. While I don’t miss being dirty pretty much all the time, I do miss how “clean” I felt in the sense that there weren’t germs out there to catch. I never once got sick on the entire trail, not even a sneeze, and within a week of being back in the real world, I got sick and the cold is still going 4 weeks later.
4. I don’t miss having to constantly think about water. We drank about a gallon of water a day, and cooked with just as much; in the back of my mind, I was always thinking about where the next water source was and if it was reliable. The kitchen faucet is a wonderful thing.
5. I miss how blue the skies were in the mountains; a blue you can’t ever see living in urban areas. I saw so many clear, deep blue, sunny skies along the way, and like to think that I appreciated every one of them.
6. Speaking of skies, I don’t miss the rainy days, however few we had. We only had about 6 total days of rain along the whole trail, 5 of them being in Washington. The first day of rain was sort of a novelty, as it didn’t come until day 96, but I would have been fine with just that day. Consecutive days of rain in Washington meant cold, wet feet, 40-degree temps, fewer breaks because it sucked to just sit there in the rain, the yearning for hot chocolate, and damp gear. I REALLY don’t miss the rainy days.
7. Sometimes I miss the simplicity of the trail. On the trail, there are never to-do lists, and your daily responsibilities consist of walking, eating and sleeping. It sounds pretty simple, and in its base form, it really is. Sometimes I made the trail more dramatic than it was, getting angry about the climbs, the rocks, the weather, but then I realized that I was dramatizing an act so simple as walking, and that I was getting angry at the trail like it was a person. It wasn’t until I laughed at myself for getting angry at an inanimate object such as a trail, and that the trail didn’t have it in for me by being difficult, that I realized that all I had to do was walk and just deal with what was ahead of me. And I realized that I should be angry with the people who made up this 2663-mile trail rather than the trail itself!
8. I definitely miss the people we met, including other thru-hikers, day hikers, weekenders, and townspeople; they were all pretty great people. We only met one bad apple out of everyone we met along the way, which probably amounted to at least several hundreds of people, if not more. Everyone just seemed to be cool, respectful, courteous, and willing to lend a hand. I really can’t explain it, but the people were amazing. Coming back to the “real” world, where people don’t say hi, don’t look you in the eye, and definitely don’t help you out if you’re a stranger, I’ve realized that the people we met along the way were a special breed that is to be missed while going through my daily encounters with people.
I’m sure there are many more things that I miss and don’t miss, and if I were to do another trail (HA!), I’d find them all out. Recently I’ve had the pleasure of car camping, and it’s a wonderful thing, I’ve gotta say. We had plenty of food and water, and whatever we didn’t have, we could drive and get it! What a great idea! Though I do admit that it felt funny setting up our tent just 10 feet away from our car and not hiking into the campground with just our packs on our back. I think we’ve become ultralight car campers though, as when we pulled into the campground with our tent, our sleeping pads and bags, a suitcase of clothes and a grocery bag of food, another camper asked us where all our camping gear was! He had a minivan jam packed full of stuff, and said he still didn’t have enough room for everything. I don’t think he would have understood why we were called Team Sherpa…