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  • Emily Hayes

Dealing with the down - a month into the PCT

First published on The Trek in April 2022.

I'm now in my 4th week of hiking the PCT, I'm taking a couple of zeros in Big Bear. I'm also dealing with something I didn't think I would be feeling so soon in my thru-hike, the feeling of being homesick.

I'm not homesick in the way you might think. I don't miss home or feel like I need to get off the trail permanently. Rather that I'm in a transition between 2 worlds and struggling to deal with the change.

I was previously living a life with routine and familiarity but now everyday is an unknown and a lot is not going to plan.

It has been surprisingly uncomfortable to adjust to both trail life and also being in the USA. People often ask me "is England the same as here?" I reply with "nothing is the same except we speak the same language".

What this means for me at the moment is that everyday decisions about activities related to groceries, postal systems, and social etiquette are not familiar in any way. Simple decisions like which tuna sachet flavour to choose seem kind of difficult. For the record, we don't have tuna sachets widely available in the UK let alone the flavour variety. The choice in grocery stores is overwhelming. Words are different on food wrappers or signs. Nothing is familiar. Town days and food resupplies become quite stress inducing.

I had a mini break down about the postal system in Palm Springs. I just didn't understand it and felt so anxious that I knew nothing and had no control over my ability to resupply by post. Fortunately I have some solid trail friends that get me through these episodes.

I don't have injuries but my shoe change at Julian and the accumulated blisters have been an eye opener for me. I've been so sure of myself before I started that I was a bit shaken to have needed to asses my feet so early in the trail. I've also not been walking the daily miles I aspired for.

I can laugh about all of this because I know I'll be fine, nothing is wrong. I'm exhausted, I'm at altitude and I don't have a routine. Everything builds up on my mind and then I get back on trail and start doing what I know how to do, hiking, perhaps that's the cure. Less town more hike.

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