Three days ago I suffered from an acute case of trailmelancholy and trailfamily longing. It just came over me when I started preparing my PCT journal, drawing the route of the PCT on to the cover page. I had done the same thing with my JMT journal two years ago.
So three days ago I took out my JMT journal to compare and then…. BAMN… DAMN…I made a mistake. I opened my journal and I started reading. From beginning to end. I was laughing and fighting back my tears at the same time.
I came to the last page of my journal and found an entry I couldn’t recall publishing here on my blog. First I didn’t understand why I hadn’t published it, but then I read it through and I understood. By the time I published my last traildays here on my blog it was december 2013. 3 months after finishing my JMT thruhike. I was still hurting like shit. Missing my people like shit. And trying to build a new life here in Germany.
We’re one year later now. Time o time it doesn’t heal but it makes the feelings less intense.
So this was my last entry in my JMT journal:

Friday, September 20th 2013: Fly back home: Yes, NOOO, Maybe!

I got up early as I still had to ship back my bear can and I wanted to send my trailangels Dave and Gordon some belgian chocolate and a word of thank you.

I slept in the mothership (my WM sleepingbag). Oh I can’t say goodbye yet… I don’t want this amazing trip to end. My heart hurts soooo much. I’d love to stay here in the US and visit Tilt and do some more hiking. Saying goodbye to my trailfamily breaks my heart and I feel a constant missing and a longing to go back into the wilderness with these amazing people. These people I can trust an rely upon, these wonderful funny people who grew sooo close to my heart:

Stephan/GQ: Never to complain but always the first to help, to make a fire, to spread a relaxing atmosphere.
Armand/Chalula: Our speedhiker, always reaching camp first and always hungry just like me (no even hungrier than me :c)
Joe/Sababa: Oh Joe, Joe, Joe. Such a great guy, such a warm heart. Always up for a joke and a sweet comment.
Ursula/Mountain Goat: Always around for some advice. She seemed to enjoy the boys’ company so much.
Lindsey: Left us at Reds but was missed till the end. What a tough, funny and open girl. She’s amazing! Toughest girl on the west coast!!!
Shobhan/Merman: Met him at LYV after my mountain lion-night. He gave me my trailname Catwoman and told me I could hike with him and Ban and Ronna. Such a funny and great person. He saved the kid in himself. Always filled with energy and up for some fun!
John/Smokey: He joined us at Wanda lake. Left at MTR with no intention of summiting Whitney. But he became a part of our family and changed his plans.
And then there was Todd/Tilt-a-Whirl: O Tilt, my best friend, so close to my heart. We were an amazing team. You gave me the feeling of being safe. I enjoyed our time together so much. When one of us was tired the other one would go in front and pull with an invisible string. We climbed all the southern passes and Whitney together. We’d be a hell of a PCT team! Tilt… a man with a long history but above all a man with the warmest, softest and biggest heart I ever met. Thank you for keeping me save, for caring about me and for being who you are. I will miss you like hell. I WILL ALL MISS YOU LIKE HELL!
Right now I’m sitting in the plane back home… 1 more hour to go… And then it’ll be just me again: A woman called Helen. But I’m so much richer now, so much more… I am CAT too… with all she was on trail, all she ment to other people, with all she learned…. I WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN! Cat!
Looking back now I could have written so much more, but there weren’t any pages left in my journal and sitting in that plane back home I was trying not to feel, not to cry.
The months after the trail were terrible. All I wanted was going back. Flying back to the people and places who made me feel loved. I was the worst partner for my boyfriend, who I actually had just fallen in love with before hitting the JMT. I came back and everything felt different. I came back… but at the same time… I didn’t come back.
Now, one year later, I’m back. Well… most of me is back… and more. Parts of me I left in the Sierra, parts of me I left on Whitney, parts of me I left in Lone Pine. In a way I got lost in the Sierra and at the same time I found so much more. I saved parts of the Sierra in my heart. I saved each single person I met in the Sierra in my heart. I saved the feelings, the experiences, the days and the nights in my heart, my body, my mind and soul.
My story isn’t a story “from lost till found”. ‘Cause in a way I’m always loosing and always finding. Life never stands still. The world always keeps on turning.
I will return to the Sierra next spring. I can’t wait, o man I can’t wait, but at the same time I’m afraid. It will never be the way it was. My trailfamily ain’t gonna be there. How the fuck should I make it through the Sierra without them?
O I know I will write a new story, I will find a new family…
But there are days that I don’t want the old book to end. In my heart it never will.

5 thoughts on “Trailmelancholy

  1. Ah Cat, I feel your pain exactly. I was the same after coming back and sort of checked out of my life for a few months. I'm mostly here now but part of me is still on the trail and I dream of the day I get to be out there again. Thru-hiking sure does change you, doesn't it? So excited you get to be back on the trail again soon. =)


  2. Yes the trail will take care of it and nature is always helpful. Just think, a few more months and the trail feeling will be real again! By the way, I interviewed for a position with Sequoia National Park. If I get the job, I'll come do some trail angel stuff for ya!


  3. I'd be glad to do it for sure and would be excited for us to get to meet too! Thanks, I'm also really hoping to get it. A job with Sequoia would be so freakin awesome! I did also interview for a job at Grand Canyon. Either would be awesome of course but I think Sequoia would be my pick because it's closer to the PCT!


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