Landing back in Australia on 24 September filled me with a mix of emotions.
Towards the end of the Appalachian Trail I was really looking forward to coming back to Horsham. I spent a lot of my childhood in small country towns around Queensland and am a country girl at heart. Horsham is everything you could want in a country town; a good selection of stores, great services, art, history and friendly people – yet still close enough to Melbourne or Adelaide if you must go into the city.
Before sleeping in my own bed I stayed with mum then one of my nieces – it was fantastic to see family again. It took quite a few days to adjust to the time difference and an ‘at home’ routine – no need to be asleep by 8.00pm.
Initially it was hard to get to sleep at night as I wasn’t collapsing onto my mattress exhausted nor use to hearing town noises during the night. In saying that, it was easy sleeping (and I did a lot of it!) just not at night.
I consistently heard about hiker depression and how hard it can be for people to re-adjust to the life they left behind. So I took on board all I’d read, watched and heard about and made the following decisions:
- Thru-Hiking – I love it! Being alone, challenging myself and hiking for long periods of time covering thousands of kilometers surrounded by nature has become my thing.
- Next Thru-Hike – Have an objective was one tip, so I have begun planning my next thru-hike along the Bicentennial Trail here in Australia.
- Eating and nutrition – After all the miles I’ve done and the sizes dropped, I’m determined to continue increasing my fitness level and body’s thru-hiking capability. Many thru-hikers will put on weight after the journey ends as the body is still suffering from hiker hunger. I have noticed that I want to eat every couple of hours which mirrors what I was doing on the trail. Another mental challenge is realising I am not able to eat the types of foods I did on the trail and have it leave no trace. Therefore I have been carrying around carrot and celery sticks (which has been really helpful) and making huge salads with protein for lunch, watching portion sizes and quality of meals.
- Fitness – Apart from the odd occasion I don’t crave cigarettes as much as I thought I would since being back in my old routines. Besides, I know that one is too many and a hundred won’t be enough and if I start smoking again I won’t be able to hike like I want to comfortably. Hiking with myself for so long I came to understand my body better than I ever have, knowing now exactly which muscles I need to strengthen in order to make hiking physically easier.
However, now a month down the track I have no doubt put on a couple of kilos. My injuries have settled – although my foot is still quite sore and I am yet to see the doctor about this – but overall I feel ready to walk for a couple of days.
Last weekend was the second time I had gone out for a day walk in the Grampians and this weekend will be the first time I’m back out camping. I’ve missed it and I’m looking forward to Breathing in the fresh air of nature. I’m also really looking forward to seeing Australian flora and fauna.
I signed up at the gym again and have reconnected with my personal trainer Tom who is still making me sweat and swear! This Christmas I intend to go hiking in the Australian Alps for about 12 days starting out from Walhalla – which I am really looking forward to.
I slid back into work far too easily 😊 I am fairly pragmatic, so when the holiday was over and it was time to get back to work, I didn’t find it that hard to adjust. There was one aspect that took a bit of getting use to – waking up and heading to work every day.
So much fresh air and exercise every day has done a lot for me, has done a lot for my overall sense of well-being. Walking the Appalachian Trail is something I would highly recommend.