Ever feel a little sad after a full day hiking when you have to return to work the next day or when you head back into civilization after a multi-day hiking and camping trip?
I always get a little bummed when a good hike or multi-day hiking vacation is over.
So I can only imagine how one would feel returning home and integrating into real life after a multi-month backpacking experience.
So when I came across a podcast on Outside/In with the title “Even Hikers Get The Blues” I knew I had to listen! 👂
Therapist Dr. Anne Baker who writes for The Trek interviewed long-distance hikers who spent weeks and months on the trail (including Triple Crown hiker, Shalin Desai) and identified common themes in their experiences.
So what are the reasons we love it so much out there and don’t want it to end?!
Dr. Baker summarized the experiences and responses from long-distance hikers with the acronym SPACE.
This acronym represents 5 virtues the trail hikers talked about when describing what they missed most…
5 reasons hikers get those post-hike blues:
“People kept using the word simplicity, it kept coming up”
I love that you only have to worry or think about a handful of things while out there; what and how much to eat and drink, and making sure you’re following the correct path. That’s pretty much it.
Most of the time concerns at work or family life drift to a faraway place that doesn’t seem so threatening or as big of a deal anymore.
I think the trail is where we get to put things in perspective and even on a short after-work hike you can hit the reset button and return home feeling refreshed and better than before.
“The only thing you have to be concerned about is putting one foot in front of the other.”
Your goal is to reach the peak or a certain number of miles and that becomes your solitary focus until it’s done.
With every step, you are fulfilling and getting closer to what you set out to do. And it can be very fulfilling once it’s done!
You had a goal and you met the goal, mission completed. It beats sitting home for hours on a free Saturday afternoon questioning your life and wondering what to do with your time…🥴
“Your entire sensory surroundings are completely changed.”
Your goal is to reach the peak or a certain number of miles and that becomes your solitary focus until it’s done. With every step, you are fulfilling and getting closer to what you set out to do. And it can be very fulfilling once it’s done! You had a goal and you met the goal, mission completed.
They mentioned that the ‘A’ could also stand for adversity; you can be tired, cold, hungry, and ready for it to be done but at the same time (especially when it’s over) it can be fun and, of course, rewarding.
“You’re surrounded by people in the same boat as you going on a journey.”
I LOVE hiking with a group. It’s a great bonding experience!
There can be people ahead that are faster than you or people behind that you have to wait for a bit, but when everyone is pretty much sticking together to reach the top it’s very rewarding when you all do.
5. Extreme Exercise
“You’re exercising all day, every day, which releases endorphins.”
I used to be obsessed with working out. I loved researching new and best workouts and I made sure I worked out or went to the gym almost every day.
But I didn’t always enjoy it.. and sometimes 7 pm would roll around and I’d put my workout clothes on and turn on a workout video just because I felt like I had to.
Now, I’ll do a workout at home with weights a couple of times a week (3 at the most) but get my exercise in the outdoors with my dogs and make it part of my daily life rather than a chore or something I have to do that interrupts my routine.
Dr. Baker said at the end, “The real kicker of it turned out to not be SPACE, it turned out to be the person you are in that space.”
Boy, is she right! I love who I am on the trail and love how I feel after. (see happy, sweaty face)
Each one of those five terms that make up the acronym shapes you inside and out. And for me, it’s why I incorporate hikes all week long when possible and at the least, long walks with the dogs.
Which part of the acronym do you resonate with most?
And if you’re trying to get out more during the week it’s key to plan ahead and look for pockets of time where you can sneak in a walk.
It may mean bringing clothes and shoes to change in the car but whatever it takes it’s always worth it.
Have fun out there! ✌️💗🥾