Today the weather was superb for November in South Dakota. I also happened to have the day off and so I decided to go for a hike at Newton Hills. Newton Hills is where Alison and I went on our shake down hike before starting the AT. I anticipated getting outdoors again in a hiking setting and was almost getting giddy.
This hike of course looked different than the AT. First of all, it was relatively flat. I am in South Dakota after all. I was without my hiking poles and my knee bands. I felt a little naked. What did I do with my hands before I had poles? I also didn’t have my big pack, instead favoring my old school bag with a few clothes and some gatorade in it. I thought about carrying my laptop and other items so it would be heavier, but why do that?
There were some ups and downs (all puds), roots and dirt got in my shoes. Felt like home. I even encountered some horse droppings that reminded me of hiking in the Smokies. I was breathing hard at times and sweated, it felt good. My speed wasn’t as fast as I was used to, but that’s okay.
I went out hiking to see if I could capture the feeling of being at home on the trail again. However, I was a bit disappointed. My friends that I met on the trail weren’t there. I was just out for the day and didn’t need to find a place to sleep somewhere in the trees. There were no shelters to check to see if I knew anyone had been there recently. I didn’t have to pull out my dehydrated food and stove to make supper. I didn’t have to filter water. It was almost too easy. Where’s the fun in that?
I pondered all of this while walking. Why wasn’t I feeling alive again now that I was hiking? It isn’t a way of life anymore, that’s why. My life doesn’t revolve around hiking anymore. For so long getting from point A to point B was the priority and if I didn’t get there I would have to do more the next day. The whole hike today felt like a sham. It wasn’t really hiking if I didn’t go up and down several mountains, sleep in the woods and filter my water.
I decided that the AT will never compare to anything else I have done or will do. Only when I get back on the AT when I section hike with Alison will I be able to re-live the memories I made and experience the magic again.
So I need another goal. Is it hiking the PCT someday? Could it be signing up for another marathon? I am not sure yet. I know I work better with goals. We shall see.