On October 11th, the Sobohobos and I made it to the Canadian border finishing our thru-hikes (Gangles, Steiner, and T-bone still have 400 miles in the south still to finish, but they’re almost there!). So after a month and a day for me, and an average of 5 months for the others, it’s time to pack up and head home.
Finishing a thru-hike can be a very bittersweet experience. You spend a very extended period of time living a totally different kind of life then what you’re used to in the “real world,” where food, lodging, hygiene, routine are all flipped upside down. The end, though, can be tough, as your body starts to break down, adopting what’s known in thru-hiker circles as the “hiker hobble.” We also had to contend with some increasingly cold weather at the end with some frost and snow coupled with some rain.
When you get to within the last few days of the hike, you start to think of all the things, the luxuries, you’ll get to have again. I was daydreaming about wearing cotton again, the food I would eat, and my motorcycle and iPod in Portland. Of course, it helps when with the weather, we were all really looking forward to getting out of the rain and being able to feel our extremities again.
When it was all done though, I started to feel some waves of depression. It’s hard life to leave. Despite how grueling it can be, it’s very relaxing when all you have to worry about is what you’ll eat, where you’ll sleep, and when to get water. A big part though is the people you meet. There are some incredible people you meet on the trail, between the other hikers and the trail angels that will bring in groups of hikers into their homes.
The group we had was particularly amazing. We were incredibly diverse, there was a marine, a graduate from Wharton business school, to corporate management consultants, a former D1 female basketball player on the verge of her PHD in history, an engineer for the navy, a mountaineer/ridge runner/mountain guide, a sailor who used to work on The Interceptor from Pirates of the Caribbean, and former computer programmer turned outdoor wholesaler and mountain rescue volunteer. We were from all over the country, north, east, south, and west. Three of the group are gay, 2.5 Asians, a half Jew, and between us we spoke 5 languages (including 2 dialects of Chinese) Even though many of them had already been hiking together for hundreds of miles, I felt quite comfortable fitting in with the group almost straight from the beginning. Everyone had a great sense of humor and was also really smart so that when we weren’t making fart jokes we were debating politics.
So with such a major landmark in all of our lives (more so for the others), and it all coming to a permanent close, we had to take full advantage and celebrate the hell out of the occasion! This meant only one thing, partying it up sobohobos style in Seattle!
Unfortunately there was no access to Internet for nearly the last 2 weeks so I fell behind on my blog posts. I’ll start catching up on the final entries of the hike while I’m now back on the road heading back east. Next though, you gotta hear about our last night all together!