Nina Baxley: AT Thru-Hiker
|Waterfall and Not Yet at AT sign|
I was exhausted for my first couple of weeks home. I mostly sat on my couch and read all the Harry Potter books, which had been introduced to me by Isis and Jackrabbit in the White Mountains. Reading about the familiar characters and places, I reminisced about the laughs (and the tears) the three of us shared in New Hampshire. Isis and Jackrabbit are still on the trail, somewhere in North Carolina, as far as I know.
Meanwhile, I'm back at work. I started back on January 4. It was busy that day; after a full day of work (OK, a full day of walking around the office and chatting with everyone about my hike), I headed down Essen Lane toward the Wildlife and Fisheries building, where the Louisiana Hiking Club meets monthly.
That night at the meeting, my friend Mudbug and I took turns standing in front of the room and telling everyone about our hikes (he hiked northbound, finishing at Katahdin in late September). Mudbug talked about what a wonderful experience the trail had been, and how happy he had been when he was out there, walking all day, meeting people, experiencing trail magic firsthand, and just enjoying life. He said that he misses the trail now, but that he's not unhappy to be home, because he likes his life here too.
I feel the same way. The trail was a wonderful experience, but "home" in Louisiana is a great experience as well. On the trail, I loved the constant movement, the daily rhythm of hiking. At home, I love the long, slow hours at the coffee shops, where I have the time and energy to write page after page. On the trail, I loved seeing different people all the timesometimes dayhikers, or weekenders, or hostel owners, or other thruhikers. At home, I enjoy seeing the familiar faces of my family, friends, and cats day after day. On the trail, I enjoyed having a life somewhat disconnected from the rest of the world. At home, I'm enjoying being "on-line" again, communicating with friends old and new by e-mail and telephone, and following the local and national news each day.
It's good to know that I can be happy at home, and that I don't have to be living a transient lifestyle in order to feel grounded. That's something I've gained from the experience: a sense of inner peace and confidence that I can be happy anywhere because I have that happiness and love for life within me. That's not something I've always had, and it's something I've often looked for. I started to "get it" when I got back into hiking a couple of years ago, and "it" just flourished and grew while I was hiking the AT.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication