I've been back in Wisconsin for just over three months. And it shows today. It's snowing like crazy. It's been a cold winter so far. Not pleasant to be outside in. This weather makes it difficult to recall those hot, humid days on the Trail. It seems like a far away dream.
And yet, yes, it definitely happened. How can I tell? Well, for starters, I am still mostly unemployed. Three months home and I still don't have "a job". Or at least some means of meeting the monthly bills. Today is Sunday. Nine months ago I would have been joining in with the millions of Americans who dread Mondays. Today? Not so much. In fact, I'm looking forward to doing the project a friend offered to pay me for while the snow comes down. It's a really good day to be indoors working on the computer. Yeah, weekends don't mean a whole lot at the moment.
I've been home three months. One year ago, I was just starting to test out some gear. I had the first of 5 sleeping bags that I'd try before I'd finally settle on the right one for the trek. My room was getting the first signs that it was inhabited by an outdoorsy gearhead - three different sleeping pads, random carabeeners, guylines, and tent stakes littered the floor. Someone offered to let me use their dehydrator.
Wow, it was a year ago that I gave up my ferrets, knowing I couldn't let someone else take care of a geriatric ferret AND a young ferret for six month in my absence. The other night, I actually found myself listening for the scratching sounds my ferrets used to make while I was trying to sleep. It seems that now I'm always listening for sounds of "others" in my room at night - whether it be fellow hikers or ferrets.
A week and half until the end of 2013. The class of 2013 Thru-Hikers is about to be relegated to a place in the past so that the new class can emerge and start their hike. Hikers are starting to make plans on Facebook to go to Trail Days in Damascus in May - a reliving of their glory days from this year. Heck, I even joke that if I'm still unemployed in March, maybe I'll just hit the Trail again. Why not? I got 220 miles to finish up. Might as well attempt the whole 2200 miles over. Or maybe I'll just start from Damascus... Or...
... Maybe I'll find a job. Maybe I'll settle back into this north-midwest lifestyle. Maybe I'll swing that one leg out of the (not so distant) past so I can have both feet firmly planted in the present. Perhaps even with a step toward the future. There is something future I would like to move toward. Just not sure how to get there. The Trail is definitely not blazed for the destination I have in mind. So, today, as I look out at the winter wonderland out my window, I'm amazed at the passage of time and all that's occurred in the past year, and what could possibly occur in the next. And I wonder how I will keep up.