Adjusting to civilization after a long hike

6:04 p.m. on June 21, 2012 (EDT)
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Is it just me or is unpacking a backpack the saddest job ever?

Trying to adjust to living in a house again can be challenging after a longer trip.  My favorite thing to do is just to repack it for the next trip, that gives me something to look forward to. 

Anyone ever feel like this?  How do you cope?  Funny stories?

8:03 p.m. on June 21, 2012 (EDT)
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I try to make sure I enjoy all I can stand while out on the trail, such that I look forward to returing to the comforts of civilization.  Pizza, beer and a hot bath keep it real.

Ed

8:14 p.m. on June 21, 2012 (EDT)
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Sage, I am with ya here. I get so down when I am at my pick-up point waiting for my carriage back to the real world. 

It's just a real downer for me.

At the same time I also have to look at the fact that as I wind up a trip there is always a new one waiting for me on the horizon. ;)

8:41 p.m. on June 21, 2012 (EDT)
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I have still not gotten back on track from THE TREK and I have been home 2.5 months almost! But I am finding the memories playing back like movies and the enjoyment of the experience saturating my free time.

12:18 a.m. on June 22, 2012 (EDT)
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Agreed. Those street lights are blinding on that car ride home.  *sigh*

Instead of taking the time to unpack, I just dump everything on the floor that night and clean it up the following morning. 

9:18 a.m. on June 22, 2012 (EDT)
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Hmm, well…I hope to find out. I’ve actually never done a long hike (but many long days). I think the most consecutive nights I’ve ever been out in the backcountry is 4 (covering about 60 miles).

 I do many, many weekenders and shorter trips;  I do start getting down when I can’t get out for extended periods. I guess all the short trips have developed a discipline in me to leave when I really don’t want to although there is certainly an underlying sadness.

It’s very much in my heart to do an “epic” trip someday (a long thru-hike or something like it). I’m currently trying to figure out how to create the balance of fulfilling my relational obligations while also allowing for the desires of my heart and the “calling” I feel to wander. Wrapped up in the “obligation” side is the notion of making money and so forth which tends to really complicate things for me (and most folks right?).

I had hoped to make it out west to the Sierras or mid west to the Rockies this year but circumstances make it very difficult. But I do still hope for one longish trip somewhere closer to home.

Interesting topic Jeff….

9:30 a.m. on June 22, 2012 (EDT)
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It takes me about a month to reintegrate, but some habits take longer.  After my last 1000 miler, I was unable to drink alcohol for months (made me flush and feel bad), I woke up at 4 AM, and couldn't sleep in a bed. I deal with the restless legs by running a lot and taking long walks in the evening. There's an odd balance to be found - I know I enjoy the woods so much because I don't live that life all the time.

1:34 p.m. on June 22, 2012 (EDT)
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Seth said:

...There's an odd balance to be found - I know I enjoy the woods so much because I don't live that life all the time.

 If you want to ruin a hobby, turn it into a job. That's why I'm trying to concentrate on the fun ones, and get away from too many paid gigs.

If I HAD to live in a tent all the time, eating dehydrated foot, getting eaten by bugs, and walking 10-20 km per day, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy it as much.

When I get back from one trip, I spend a day doing laundry and getting back into the home/work mindset, then I start packing and planning for the next hike just a day or two afterwards.

5:01 p.m. on June 22, 2012 (EDT)
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Considering I have spent about 275 days a year camping either on my bicycle or a foot, after I come back out for summers to work my 90 days a year, unpacking my bike and backpack is the worst thing for me. It takes  me a long time to get used to putting things on shelves, sleeping on a bed thats off the ground/floor and readjusting to cooking with modern kitchen appliances and working at a 8 hour a day/ 40 hours a week job. And listening to all the sounds of mankind, cars, jets,sirens, smelling smog, gasoline and hearing very little wildness. And my back gets sore after not carrying my pack daily and my legs get different soreness from not pedaling all day.

After only about a week anymore I am sick of this artifical lifestyle and after 6 weeks all I can think of is when the next 6 are over and I can return to the solitude and quietness of nature.

I can live on about 2000 dollars for the 9 months I live outdoors and often spend more money living the average 3 months when I have to come out to work.

When hiking I go for weeks on end or cycling for months at a time, even when my money is running low I try to make do with what nature provides in small game hunting (with sticks and stone, like an indian) and eating things like Dandelions and other plants I know or research online during working times.

7:27 p.m. on June 23, 2012 (EDT)
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@FromSagetoSnow, this is an interesting topic, and timely for me.  As I prepare for my upcoming JMT trip, there's obviously a lot of excitement & build-up to the actual event.  I haven't ever done anything quite like this before.

As I've described in other threads, I spent a summer in the mountains, but it wasn't a thru-hike, and it was ~35 years ago.  I find myself wondering what I'll feel like when I've finished, I'm off the trail, and back home again.  I'm kinda afraid that I'll have a feeling of "oh, drat, back to the rat race again, ugh!!!"... or that I'll reach the end of the trail and want to turn around and hike back (a yo-yo hike) because I won't want to come home (hmmm, not completely out of the question, I suppose, if I prepped for it now... nah, not a good idea).

And, though I live in a good (and pretty quiet) neighborhood, there's no mistaking the fact that I live smack dab in the middle of a major city.  What a contrast from anyplace on the trail!  Even after a weekend trip to the mountains I notice the noise when I return.  And this time I'm hoping to stretch the trip out to 4 weeks (my goal is to "experience" the trip, not rush through it... I have the luxury of time to do this right now).  And I'll be in a bed (probably welcome) but surrounded by walls (ugh).  And I'll be back in front of a screen and keyboard again.  Hmmm ...

Very interesting question you raise!

11:21 a.m. on June 25, 2012 (EDT)
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I came back from a longer trip in the early 1990s (my late teens) and I actually continued to live out of my pack for almost a week.  I still cooked dehydrated food and slept in my sleeping bag on the floor.  I don't think it was a mentally healthy thing.  I wonder if any experts in this area can offer some better ways to adjust to the change?

2:12 a.m. on June 26, 2012 (EDT)
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FromSagetoSnow said:

..I wonder if any experts in this area can offer some better ways to adjust to the change?

If you are so adverse to civilized life that it is difficult to re-enter, seriously consider a fundamental lifestyle change.  Really.

A woman you are really fond of should be sufficient to get you to shower, and back to a dinner table and bed.  A job you really like will make getting back to that routine less arduous, albeit most of us work out of necessity not out of passion.

Ed

9:55 a.m. on June 26, 2012 (EDT)
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Very true Ed.  When the event I described occured I was in my teens.  I was much more interested in the outdoors than girls at the time. 

10:55 a.m. on June 26, 2012 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

If you are so adverse to civilized life that it is difficult to re-enter, seriously consider a fundamental lifestyle change.  Really. 

I find this suggestion offensive. Really. Nobody said that they are "adverse [sic] to civilized life". What was suggested was that making a sudden and dramatic change from one lifestyle to another can pose challenges.

The same could be said to be true when embarking on a long trip outdoors (for example the recent discussion about loss of appetite is one symptom of this;  difficulty sleeping on the ground for the first few nights is another).  We don't say we're "averse to the outdoors" when these things happen, just that the transition creates challenges.

10:58 p.m. on June 26, 2012 (EDT)
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bheiser1 said:

whomeworry said:

If you are so adverse to civilized life that it is difficult to re-enter, seriously consider a fundamental lifestyle change.  Really. 

I find this suggestion offensive. Really...

Sorry, I did not mean to offend.  My mind took this thread to a more serious level than the merely the hassles of getting back into routines and such.

My comment springs from knowing individuals who do fit the above observation. They are not in a happy space with their native lifestyle.  They are adverse to their domestic surroundings.  These are the folks I refer to.  They really need to change, life itself is slowly killing them.
Ed

1:01 a.m. on June 27, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks, Ed.  I do understand what you mean now.  There are a lot of unhappy people in the world.

1:02 a.m. on June 27, 2012 (EDT)
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Seth said:

It takes me about a month to reintegrate, but some habits take longer.  After my last 1000 miler, I was unable to drink alcohol for months (made me flush and feel bad), I woke up at 4 AM, and couldn't sleep in a bed. I deal with the restless legs by running a lot and taking long walks in the evening. There's an odd balance to be found - I know I enjoy the woods so much because I don't live that life all the time.

I have had some strange things occur since my return and fewer as I am further out which makes me feel like they are trek/altitude related. Some, I am sure, have to do with what happened that caused my evac. But adjusting back to life has been different than other types of trips I have been on. I have "medicated" by focusing on helping my sherpa and that has been good.

9:41 a.m. on June 28, 2012 (EDT)
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Whenever I come back from a trip, my first thought on opening the door is, "Omigod, there's so much STUFF here. If everything I need to live is on my back, why do I have all this stuff? What is it FOR?" And I have the strong urge to toss the works and leave only the bare walls.

The first morning back after the last trip, I spent a long time staring at the coffeemaker, wondering how to light it.

9:37 a.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Islandess said:

The first morning back after the last trip, I spent a long time staring at the coffeemaker, wondering how to light it.

 ROTFL

 Thanks very much for the morning laugh! :-0

1:42 p.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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When I return to "civilization" from a long trip (or short trip, for that matter), I sort the gear, wash and repair as needed, and start planning, gathering supplies, and packing for the next trip. The house in town serves only as base camp and resupply. Well over half of our worldly possessions are intended for use in the woods and hills - dozen tents, 10 sleeping bags, virtually all our clothes, 6 bivy sacks, 9 ice axes, 12 sleeping pads, 7 bicycles, 90% of our books (guide books, wilderness medicine, outdoor "how to"....). Some friends say we live like we are permanently camped out. Both cars have gear such that we are ready to head for the hills on a moments notice.

1:47 p.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Islandess said:

Whenever I come back from a trip, my first thought on opening the door is, "Omigod, there's so much STUFF here. If everything I need to live is on my back, why do I have all this stuff? What is it FOR?" And I have the strong urge to toss the works and leave only the bare walls.

Actually this is a great point!  I've committed to myself that before I leave for my upcoming trip, I will organize and clean my space at home.  It already feels cluttered.  Coming back to see the clutter after weeks on the trail would be really unpleasant.

3:04 p.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Not me i cant wait to get a cheeseburger fries and a large coke(the only time i ever drink coke).  A 6 pack of beer on ice, good music , warm shower, my wife, my kids.  I love the woods, the mountains, the solitude,  the adventure, the challenge but am usually looking foward to the things listed above on the final day.

7:21 p.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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I know what you mean as I have been on an away trip for three weeks. Going back to work in my hood soon.

What I tell myself is going back to work enables me to go back to the bush.

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