Since I got back from New Zealand nearly 2 years ago I’ve been trying to write this blog post. Sometimes I’ve started typing it up. Sometimes its sat there with nothing but a title waiting for me to miraculously gain motivation to tell a story that has already been told by many others in many different ways. Some people have tried to pin point the causes others have discussed the solutions.
I hadn’t even heard of post trail depression until I finished the PCT. In November of 2014 I reached the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. Shortly after that I was back at home in the middle of winter with no job, no money and an abundance of time. When I stumbled upon a blog post on Post Trail Depression I realized it was describing me. I didn’t feel sad exactly just empty.
I found a job and it occupied some of my time. I started being more active again, running climbing and a bit of backpacking. I felt more like myself, but I still missed the PCT every day and wanted to recreate the magic I felt from that hike. I started planning my next hike, Te Araroa, a long trail across both islands in New Zealand. It seemed perfect. I had always wanted to visit New Zealand (I was a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings) it’s summer was during our winter and it presented a unique set of challenges that I hadn’t had to deal with on the PCT. It was an amazing experience, but it wasn’t my first thru hike and some(most) of the magic was gone. There was also a cloud hanging over the entire trip; post trail depression was a real possibility for when I returned home. Before I returned from New Zealand I had a plan.
When I got home I immediately made moves toward finding a job. I started running and climbing again. And I made an effort to spend time with friends. I would write a post on Post Trail Depression. The blog post never happened, but neither did the Post Trail Depression. I loved my job and felt respected and appreciated. I kept climbing and running. I had made a decision to do little things consistently to take care of my mental well being rather than live one large trip to the next seeking the magic I had found on the PCT.
Then came the 20 peaks trip. Though the idea dated back to 2015 we didn’t give it life until last January. The pieces all fell into place and we were off. The trip was big, but I felt inspired by it. I had to see if we could do it. We did it and it all the magic I had found before plus a good dose more. I had fought off post trail depression before I would do it again. Dive back into work, run, climb. I did that. Then I got injured, I stopped running. I felt fine, until I didn’t. I’ve started running again, but the emptiness is still there. I want to get back to consistently doing the little things to take care of my mental health, but I also feel like something big might be the only thing that can make me feel genuinely happy. And I’ve upped the ante, because finding a trip as epic as the one we did last year might not be possible.
I wasn’t able to write the post before, because I wasn’t feeling it. I feel it now.
In other news: My 30 before 30 list is off to a good start. I have already crossed “start a retirement account” off my list and am 5 days into a month with out alcohol. I’ve taken significant steps toward making Germany Switzerland and Spain happen. I have also been climbing regularly and recently started running again which will set me up nicely toward several of my before 30 goals. I have things to look forward to. I should be exited about those things.
I was having a hard time motivating myself to go for a run today. I didn’t want to drive to run on a trail and I didn’t want to run on the roads. It felt tedious. So I opted to run to the track and run a mile as fast as I could. That wouldn’t be tedious. Stupid: yes. Arbitrary: obviously. But at least it wasn’t tedious!
I was contemplating bailing on skiing with my friends, because that would be good for my mental health…. But thankfully I found the motivation to go.
I plan on blogging a bit more. No one will see it which I have mixed feeling about, but I think its helpful,