I know it’s a little early to be talking about, even thinking about, what you will do after your thru-hike or LASH is over.
But, sometimes, it is so hard to keep these thoughts and anxieties at bay. Especially, when you have zero plans for what's coming next. I know, I've been there!
So what should you do after your hike is over?
Here are 12 things that helped me after spending 5 months on the Appalachian Trail.
- Take a breath. Seriously, though. Grab your favorite beverage and go sit outside in the fresh air for a minute or ten. I promise you can start stressing again after getting some fresh air. Do this every day after you get off the trail.
- Recognize that you are a different person now, than when you started your hike. Your friends and family may not recognize this immediately, or ever, but you need to know that you have changed.
- Keep in touch with your tramily. (Trail family) Track them down on Facebook or through e-mail, and schedule semi-annual meet ups with anyone in your area.
- Your body will be going through a big transition to life back home, take the time to take care of your body off the trail. Eat healthy and keep it moving. For real, though.
- Channel your newly developed focus into something, anything! other than tv. Get out of the house. Create something. Build something. Take a class. Surprise visit old friends. You get the idea.
- Learn to let go. You've lived out of a backpack for months. You've gone without so many creature comforts. Now is the time to let go of your attachment to your material things, and figure out what's really important to you in this life.
- Continue to seek support and community from those around you. You may not find a community as tight-knit as the trail community, but don't stop trying.
- Maintain your independence and creative problem solving skills. Keep cooking your own meals, pulling your own weight, and doing your own thing, regardless of what others around you are doing.
- Know that you are bad-ass who can conquer any challenge coming your way.
- Keep trying new things and exploring new places, don't stay stuck in your past experiences, as amazing as they were.
- Give back to the trail community - even if you're not local to the AT, find out who your local trail maintainers are and volunteer, or if you live by a long trail, fill in as trail angel when you can and support other hikers in accomplishing their dream.
- Appreciate the world around you. Every. Day.
Whether you're starting a new job, moving to a new town, or living a life of travel, doing these things after your hike can help you move forward with the same sense of fulfillment you got while on the trail.
If you still really have no clue what you're going to do with yourself after your hike is over, then Appalachian Trail Thrive would be perfect for you.