I’ve officially been back in civilization or the “real world” for a couple months. My transition off trail has been a smooth one. One that I didn’t realize was going to feel so comfortable. Yes… I’ve noticed quite a few things that drive me bonkers now that I’ve returned to society, but they’re minor for the most part. There’s a lot more ‘hurry up and wait’ going on. Many moments of: “Humans, man,” — a phrase we often resorted to on trail when realizing how ridiculous we as humans can be sometimes. We make things so complicated when they don’t need to be. It’s silly.  Having a schedule again, with a time frame and places to be, was definitely an adjustment. I threw myself right back in without hesitation. Right back to work and right back to social outings. Slightly over-committing myself, as I often do. It’s like I weirdly reverted back to old habits. Maybe my body and mind just didn’t know how to react initially, and threw me into this downhill spiral of a comfort zone from my life before trail. It’s weird to grasp and I’m constantly trying to sort through the state I’m in. I don’t want my old habits back and am in a continuous tug-of-war with myself to muscle through and create new ones…better ones.

Sold Out Jason Isbell show at The Ryman the weekend I got home
Best roommate ever!
Sunday brunch on the front patio. Definitely something I missed.
 

My work team welcomed me home with open arms, easing me back into the routine of a schedule, florescent lights, computers, phones and sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day. They’ve been extremely supportive of this whole journey and made it easy to return. I think everyone in the office still giggles at the amount of moving I do throughout the day, my constant snacking (don’t worry… it’s real food & healthy stuff now!), my ability to drink 4-5 liters of water without hesitation, and the slight hiker-hobble I still have from my knees and feet hurting. This team is awesome and has truly made my return a smooth, happy, and healthy one. It feels good to be back. I know this transition back would not have been as awesome without this amazing work team. I’m very lucky. Thank you!

Hike for the Homeless with “Team Lovelly”

I’ve realized quite a few things since I’ve been back. Some more personal than others. Many relating to society and how my perspective has changed. I’m more open-minded. I understand things better and have this constant urge to learn and revisit knowledge lost. I move more efficiently and with more purpose now. I’m finally understanding my own purpose. Creating opportunities for myself but cherishing my “me-time”—realizing it’s more important to be happy and healthy, than worrying myself to death over things that don’t really matter.

I’m more interested in things that didn’t really interest me before – fashion, history, politics, appearance, etc. Maybe these things were there before but needed more time to blossom within me. It could be another part of growing up and maturing, but to me, it’s fun and a new way of learning. Cultures, words, meanings. I’m curious again. I want to learn and absorb as much as I possibly can. It’s exciting and terrifying. My mind is wide open – distracted by thoughts of the future, my place in society (an understanding that I’ve only recently shifted my focus to), and what truly matters to me. Being honest, real, true to myself. Being completely vulnerable again. My mind is clear and I’m ready for the next thing to peak my interest. I’m focused and free. It feels good.

I believe most of this new perspective stems from feeling completely confident and comfortable with myself. It’s liberating in a way. My mind, body, and soul hit an all-time high while on trail. My fitness level peaked, making me want more out of my body. Pushing it to its limits but treating it well. Being aware of the things that effect it and present in my mind. A few things have shifted since I’ve been back… yes… but I’m motivated to stay at this level. I want it. I’m balancing everything better –family, work, social life, fitness, healthy eating, a long-distance relationship. I’m more motivated than ever to keep this version of myself alive. This one’s here to stay. This is the real me. The ‘me’ I’ve been searching for for years. It’s a lifelong commitment now – where I finally understand the level of sacrifice and dedication it takes to be healthy and happy.

I gave my body roughly 3 weeks to recover after my hike. My knees were completely shot for the extent of that time. I honestly thought I needed to see a doctor. I was worried about them recovering. I didn’t have any problems with them on trail, so why are they hurting so bad all of a sudden? As much as my body needed the recovery time, I think the rest about killed me. 

We’re good now! I’m back in hot Yoga, and just started doing a boot camp at the YMCA. It kicked my butt the first night but man it feels good to be sore again (shout out to Mary Evelyn for keeping it interesting & never repeating an exercise, and to Bailey for motivating me & making me laugh each class). I’m taking joint supplements to help repair all the damage done to my body over the past 6 months. I can tell a difference. I’ve made this vow to myself to stay active, healthy and happy for the rest of my life. I’m now, more than ever, aware of what factors hinder this and what factors feed it. I have that ‘runners high’ about life right now. It’s here to stay! 

I’m still processing this journey, and will be for a while. Every little thing triggers a memory from the trail. It comes in waves. I don’t think I’ve fully grasped the caliber of this hike.


As we enter this Holiday season, I sure do have a lot to be grateful for. My amazing family, friends, boyfriend, trail family, coworkers, my health & happiness, and the pure joy of chasing after & accomplishing dreams. I hope you all find health, happiness & love in your life, always. Cheers to you all. 

Much love.

-BA