“Finding Yourself” and Post-Trail Depression ?

Since I was on the Maine Calling Book Club Maine Public Network radio show last week two lingering points have stuck with me.

If you missed the live-call in hour, here’s the link to listen to the 1 hour audio of the show.  We discussed Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  “Wild” is now a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon.

I tried to convey two points on the show:

(1)  The premise of the book may be over-reaching.  On an actual long distance hike where one spends months in the wilderness traversing challenging terrain, in difficult conditions, and often nursing some physical pain, there is often no psychic energy left  for one to process the stress, wounds, and psychic scars that we accumulate before we set foot on that trail.  In the book ,”Wild”,  Strayed devotes just as many pages to relationship/lifestyle issues (mother/daughter, sibling coherence, domestic violence, heroin use,  sexual habits, death) as she does conveying the actual walking.

It’s tough to average out 20 miles a day, week after week, month after month. The experience of moving across America on your own two feet on a National Scenic Trail is often so compelling that we find ourselves in a parallel universe where our old shells are dropped like useless antlers, or dwarfed to the size of a speck, as we allow ourselves to experience  force of  the real Wild world.   Like this-  “Problems?  What problems, I can’t even remember what they were?”

Bill Irwin thru-hiked the AT in 1990, and wrote, “Blind Courage”, one of the best hiking books ever. 9101-gEy5hL  I just started tearing up just looking at the pictures in my signed copy (with Orient’s foot print)  Bill was the first blind person to thru-hike the AT, where he  fell thousands of times, despite the aid of Orient, his seeing-eye companion dog.  If anyone needed it, Bill is the prime candidate to receive a redemption, but he is surprisingly realistic in his post hike appraisals.

From Bill in the Appalachian Trail Reader: “But it is unrealistic to expect the wilderness to resolve a lot of issues for you, issues you’ve never resolved anywhere else. The answer is not on the Trail.  It’s in you.

(2) Post-hike depression is an under-reported issue about long distance hiking.   Irwin was the first writer/hiker I came upon who warned others that it may be dangerous to  thru-hike.  He does not necessarily recommend the practice to others. He writes that, ” I have even heard of people  who have committed suicide because they couldn’t make that return.”

Here’s an an essential post from The New Nomads that details the kind of unexpected troubles that thru-hiking can bring you – ..My Notes on Post Trail Depression.  I might have reblogged this entry back in March, but it deserves another look, especially the Reader Comments section.

So did Wild (the book) ring true to you, the walker in the woods?

I’m going Wild today !- interview/call-in show on Maine Public Radio

12262741 Today (Wednesday 12/24) from noon to 1pm ( Eastern Time Zone)  I’ll be on MPBN’s radio program Maine Calling to talk about Cheryl Strayed’s book ‘Wild.’   Maine Calling is a live, call-in show (1-800-399-3566) so please feel free to give a call and share your thoughts on Wild – the book or the movie.

Joining me today will be host Jennifer Rooks; Mary Pols, Feature writer for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Today, not entirely reformed movie/book critic, author of Accidentally on Purpose; and, Josh Christie, Independent bookstore manager. Author of MAINE BEER, and writer covering beer, books, and the Maine outdoors

People can also stream the discussion live by visiting news.mpbn.net   People can post comments and questions on the Maine Calling Facebook page .  We’re also on Twitter @mainecalling.   Our email is Talk@mpbn.net.

Tune in !

A Climb into the Wayback Machine- Growing up on the Pacific Crest Trail

With Wild, the movie making it’s way in theaters across America this week, let us not forget that there were people walking, and even riding the new PCT . Wild, the book harkens back to 1995. Back in 1969, this family demonstrated all that’s great about America.

Work, save money, and then have experiences that lift your life up, way up, but it ain’t easy.

Murray photo files

-Murray photo files

Growing up on the Pacific Crest Trail. <<<—Check it out

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog

The marketing machine is ramping up again, this time for the Dec.5 release of Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”, backpacking’s latest media opportunity.

However, there is another movie that I will travel anywhere to see- Let’s all hope for this other video project’s success. Grandma Gatewood is the real deal. To see the video clip, click on View Original. It made me cry.

Grandma (Emma) Gatewood

Blog Logo - lg

We were pleasantly surprised and pleased to see that a story about Emma Gatewood and a clip from our project were on the Smoky Mountain Blog here is an excerpt:

Who was Grandma Gatewood?
In 1955, after raising 11 children, Emma “Grandma” Gatewood became the first woman to solo thru-hike the Appalachian Trail – at the tender age of 67! In September of that year, having survived a rattlesnake strike, two hurricanes, and a run-in with gangsters from Harlem, she stood atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin.

Then, in 1960, she hiked it again, becoming the first person to hike the Appalachian Trail twice. And, just to prove those first two weren’t a fluke, she hiked it again in 1963 – at the age of 75! After that third adventure Emma became the first person to hike the 2,179-mile trail on three different occasions.

To read the rest and see the clip…

View original post 3 more words

Rescue at Hauser Canyon

While re-reading my Trailjournal from my 2010 thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, I started looking around the Web for anyone starting out early this year. Blondie’s all set to go, and is posting on |Blondie Hikes.   I stumbled upon her remarkable post about a unprepared hiker-wannabee who might have died if not for Blondie’s help.

Hauser Canyon is a location that one passes through on the PCT .  It is located at about the 15 miles north from the US/Mexico border in California.

Hauser Canyon coming up
Hauser Canyon coming up

Apparently Blondie was day hiking the 21 mile segment that most hikers complete on their first day on the PCT.  Hikers try to make the 21 in a day because there is so little water in that section, punctuated with heavy border patrol that would invite a look-see wakeup from Agents if they detected a tent up in that section. If you make the 21 miles you arrive at Lake Morena State Park, a safe haven.

My campsite and tent- NIght #2 PCT
My campsite and tent- Night #2 on PCT

Knowledgeable trail angels have suggested that this will be a record year for PCT thru hiker attempts. “1,000 people on the trail this year” is popping up. Hopefully there is some sense out there,  Some say it’s the Wild effect, thanks to Cheryl Strayed’s best selling book about hiking a portion of the PCT in 1995.   Here’s my review of the book.

Check out the full story here–>  Rescue at Hauser Canyon.  Sheesh!

Be sure to read the comments, too.  Feel free to leave your own comments here and I’ll join in the discussion.