Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree

It’s been four months since I tasted my version of victory at the top of Mt Katahdin and I’m following up with a brief post to let you know how different the post-hike time has been.

I’ve put on some of the weight I lost, my Peanut Butter obsession returning from time to time. I also retain many of the aches and pains that built up over that six month period and have been cycling and walking to try and relieve them.

By far the biggest and most surprising difference in me, though, is that my focus seems to have deserted me. I’ve hardly been able to read a newspaper article without getting distracted after a few seconds and I’m only now beginning to get some of that focus back. I was truly expecting to be back to normal in a few days, a week at tops, yet I don’t think I’ll ever be back to “normal,” whatever that even meant.

I believe that I’ve become less judgmental and more empathetic and I hope that I haven’t loss the essence of who I was before, yet I find myself constantly trying to define what the Appalachian Trail meant to me and how it has impacted me.

Diane has been wonderful, giving me both the time and space I’ve needed to come down from the highs (literally) that I experienced, as well as feeding me relentlessly in the typical Puerto Rican way, cooking sufficient food in case 20 people turn up out of the blue. She was my rock when I was away and remains the absolute center of my life now that I’m back.

I went for a 5.75 mile walk this morning, just around my own and a neighboring community, and I was struck by the solitary nature of walking in a way I never noticed prior to my hike. For part of this morning’s walk I was alongside US301, a busy road, yet I was in my own bubble and within my own thoughts. The AT taught me to be more independent and happier in my own company. I always suspected that I’d be comfortable with that before the hike, but it was confirmed both on the hike and on my return, when I revisited my blog and my videos to see how comfortable I’d become with myself and my surroundings. If nothing else, this was a valuable realization.

Another valuable realization from this morning was how difficult walking over 2,000 miles can be. My legs are aching after just 5.75 miles on flat ground, with no roots or rocks, nor pesky mountains in the way. The fact that I completed the Trail is a wonder to me still, a wonder I hope I never lose.

I’ve started my book on the Trail and, 5,000 words into it, I still haven’t taken a single step, as I’ve been recording my preparations, yet I’m already reliving the moments, the people, the challenges and the delights and relishing sharing a far fuller story than I could ever record on this blog. I’ll try to update my progress with the book on this blog from time to time and, should any of you be interested, send me an email under the contact section of this site and I’ll let you know when it is finished.

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