When a Journey is Done

You don’t know what to do.

I finished my hike from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail a month and some change ago. Completing the journey brought up the same feelings as finishing my first novel. Confusion. Loss. Disappointment. Yearning. Yes, I learned that yearning can be a feeling.

I was lucky enough to have a party with friends at the northern terminus, at the end of the hike. Celebration was in order, for sure. But the excitement dwindled as the people stepped away, one by one, out of the lives we had each built for ourselves over the last six months, the lives we had put years of planning into.

Accomplishing something great is enjoyed in the moment and in the memory of it. Finishing it is not so much fun.

The journey had ended. The wandering had begun.

The city was overwhelming with its noise and congestion. Home was just as bad with all of the bills and responsibilities and societal expectations dumped on top of you like a heaping pile of wet laundry. Congratulations were more uncomfortable than appreciated. People don’t know what to say because they don’t understand. They’re happy that you finished your thing, but they don’t get that you’re sad because your thing is over. It was your thing. Now what do you have?

You have to start again. Start new projects. Work on a thing. Accomplish a new thing.

Being done is the worst part of the journey. People don’t like it when you’re not working on a thing. You don’t like it when you’re not working on a thing. Working to improve yourself, working on a career, working to help others, working to make a new thing.

When a journey is done, you don’t know what to do. When a journey is done, you need to start something new.

Crossposted at TryBeWrite

9 thoughts on “When a Journey is Done

  1. I’ll remind you of a previous post from January 2015….
    “all thru-hikers are selfish in their quest and should remain steadfast in their efforts to remain humble and grateful.”
    Don’t forget how far you have come, how much you have grown, the accomplishment of completing it and the “humble and grateful” attitude you were going keep.

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  2. Thanks Theresa. We are still working on a few more posts on some detailed information about our hike. In one of those we’ll link to some other great continuing blogs of people we met on our journey. We’ll pick up on here once we start another grand adventure!

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  3. Arthur and Jill, Bed and breakfast in Seattle is the best we can offer, and suggestions for hikes in the Olympics, North Cascades or Columbia Gorge (Oregon side) that are not “through” hikes, but incredibly lovely. Seattle is more than Seahawks country, and the welcome mat is out. I, too, speaking for those of us who met you on the trail, Stevens Pass area, well done. I’ve other thoughts about “post partum blues” or the depression that can set in after winning gold or other significant achievement. But this needn’t be a conversation unless you want friends in Seattle. I’ve been running for 55 years, and my hike mates bike on a tandem all over the country… in our 60’s. We salute your journey, appreciate your blog and pray God’s “next chapter” for your life. By the way, His heaven on His terms. Bob in Bothell

    Date: Sat, 31 Oct 2015 18:05:32 +0000 To: rorabaugh@msn.com

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    1. Thanks so much for the kind offers. We’re in a good mindset now. This post was more of a reflection of a month ago. The initial completion was the hardest part, and I know many other thru-hikers out there have suffered worse post trail depression than we have.

      Glad to have met you and appreciate you reading our blog! More adventures wait ahead for all of us.

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  4. RT- I totally know how you feel. When I got back from Iraq I had the same feelings. It took a while to adjust. I wanted to go back. Then I got pregnant and that was an excellent new project to focus on. Maybe that would help you too (hint hint)?

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  5. I was so happy to see your post today…I have been following your and Jill’s hike since the beginning and looked forward to each new post. I don’t know what lies ahead but please keep writing and posting..you never know what is around the next corner.

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