So its been two months since we’ve gotten home, and been off trail. We’ve since received our completion medals from the PCTA (Pacific Coast Trail Association) which are pretty cool…and heavy. The back of the medals are engraved with our year and trail names. In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago, and in other ways it was just like yesterday. After slouching around for a week or two, we are back to walking and swimming. My toes are still a bit tingly, but nearly all the aches and pains are gone. People ask if we find ourselves changed from this experience. The answer…yes and no. Granted, we lost a significant amount of weight, and most people at home have had to take a double take at our transformation. We walk a lot more to things we would previously drive to, but that’s mainly because we are retired and have the time. We figure the weather is still wonderful (summer like) and therefor, why not? The main thing, if you can call it a change, is how we see the world and namely humanity. Walking to/through incredible landscapes, water that miraculously seeps from the earth…continuously, gale force winds that threaten to turn you into a kite, the eerie silence of dead calm, roaring waterfalls and deafening thunder, dark starry nights and full moon shadows, trees that creek and mimic voices whispering in the near distance, the mist of a low hanging cloud and rain that works its way into “non-porous” materials, 206 bones and just as many muscles working together, whether they like it or not, are more wondrous to us than ever. We’ve always been curious people, and are generally not afraid to try something new and challenge ourselves, with the exception of sky diving (a perfectly good plane is a perfectly good plane until it isn’t, thus why jump out if you don’t have to). If anything, our experience on the trail has enhanced our lives and helped us get back to living. For some reason, and I’ve said it before, life gets in the way of living. Most things we fret over and stress about are distractions that keep one from truly living. Trail life was structured, simple and strangely, fulfilling. No doubt it was hard and painful at times, but all the same, we miss the simplicity. This is not to say that we don’t enjoy the amenities of home, and our connections with family and friends. When we first started the trail, we thought we “needed” everything we had packed. In no time we learned that a good portion of what we thought we needed and couldn’t live without, was useful but not necessary. We found those items unnecessarily weighed us down and were therefor burdensome, so we removed them from our pack. When we reflected on that, we realized home life is the same. There are things and habits that we think we need and can’t live without, but in reality they are not necessary and often weigh us down. If we jettisoned items on the trail, why couldn’t we do the same at home? Don’t worry we aren’t going to sell all our crap and live in a tent, and become tree hugging hermits, or shave our heads, wear a robe and bang a gong, but we are going to “downsize”, and do what we can to remove the clutter from our lives, literally and figuratively. The world is a wondrous place, why have the fog of clutter obstruct our view and ability to embrace its wonderment. Without exception we believe and have been reawakened to the fact that people are innately good…everywhere regardless of race or creed. The kindness of complete strangers reminds us that we should not be strangers. Everyone has value and purpose. A simple smile to acknowledge ones existence, triumph or even hardship, an unsolicited kind word or deed, the gift of ones time and/or belongings to another in need without regard for oneself renewed our faith in humanity, and we found this unexpectantly and without exception along our travels on the trail. Of all our experiences on the trail , these things are our biggest takeaways, and will savor the most. More importantly, we hope to emulate this in our everyday lives surrounded by “strangers”.
…and yes, we are in the planning stages for another adventure this next summer.