Hiking the Appalachian Trail or any of the other long trails means you have A LOT of time to yourself to think, often losing yourself in your thoughts for hours at a time. This can be very beneficial, allowing you to plan for the future or analyse some issues you’ve been dealing with. Often times however its tiresome, you’re thoughts can take control of you and lead you on an emotional rollercoaster. One thought hikers will relate to is thinking about all the things from “real life” that we miss, this is going to be a light hearted look at the top 10 things I missed on the Appalachian Trail.
1. Running Water
Filtering or treating water on the trail gets really old, most people hiking in 2015 were using either the Sawyer Minior the regularSawyer Filter (Way Better). These filters serve a purpose but are extremely tedious to filter large amounts of water, day in, day out. I now have a much greater appreciation for cool, clean water flowing from a tap.
Im not afraid to admit it, I’m a coffee snob. At home I love to experiment with different beans and all the ways to brew that perfect cup, my favourite right now is the amazing Aeropress. Now that I’m home, freshly brewed coffee never tasted so good, out on the trail you just have to make do. I eventually settled on using the Starbucks Via instant coffee pouches.
Hot running water and the ability to clean up properly is something I really missed. I’m not afraid of getting dirty but after six months of feeling grimy and smelling certain people’s feet (you know who you are) I’d had enough. Hot running water and seventeen different kinds of shower gels to choose from (I guess it’s a woman thing) is rather pleasant.
4. Friends, Family, Girlfriends, Boyfriends
Being away from friends and family for such a long period of time is really difficult, possibly one of the hardest things to deal with depending on your situation. I’ve been lucky to have family, friends and a girlfriend who’s super supportive of my lifestyle, regardless of how wacky they maybe really think I am 😉 The power of Skype and Facebook Messenger was also huge in enabling us to stay in touch whenever I had access to Wifi or cell signal.
5. Real Food
I try to eat a pretty clean Paleodiet when i’m at home but i’ll admit I was a little excited about getting on the trail and eating all the new and exciting terrible American junk food. That didn’t last long. Pretty quickly you become sick of trail food, or at least I did. I would be walking along in my own little world, dreaming of fresh salads, heaping platefuls of scrambled eggs and the holy avocado.
Once you’ve settled into a groove on the trail, your life is fairly similar day in, day out. The variety you do get is in the form of meeting new, awesome people and sharing stories or hitting a cool vista. Trees do get old after a while. Sounds strange but having variety in your day to day activities is a huge thing, I think a lot of people quit a Thru-Hike because they simply become bored.
For better or for worse technology today is a huge part of our life, even on the trail everyone has smart phones and some even had tablets. I missed being able to quickly type into google a subject that had been on my mind and wanted to read all about, I missed video games, I missed sitting down and watching a good movie. Im trying hard not to binge on technology now that I’m home but it isn’t easy.
8. A Real Bed
I was incredibly happy with my sleeping pad and inflatable pillow on the trail, the modern inflatable backpacking mattresses are incredibly comfortable in my opinion. However, not having to think where will i sleep at night and not having to “ build” my bed every evening is glorious. I didn’t realise how much I missed my memory foam pillow until i got home, I laid in bed and passed out like a new born baby.
9. My Motorbike
Im a fairly new rider and so i’m totally addicted to my motorbike, it was hard being away from it over the summer, missing all those opportunities for long summer rides. If you know the feeling, then you know the feeling. I had several motorcycle dreams on the trail just to wake up in my tent and realise my only mode of transportation was my sore feet.
10. Going to the gym
Yes I was getting exercise everyday and it was for sure the hardest physical thing i’ve ever done but I really missed hitting the gym on a regular basis. I like to lift weights, do martial arts and mix it up in the gym. Variety, here that word is again.
So, what do you think? What do you miss when you go hiking or are away from home for extended periods of time? I’d love to hear what you guys have to say about this, Leave a comment below.