"I find myself hanging out at REI."
Yianni Stoner. Talk about blast from the past. 19-yr-old Yianni is the only thru-hiker we've met that refused to adopt a trail name. We met him during the first half of our thru-hike and got to know him quite well. He got off the trail in the Shenandoahs because the "green tunnel" wasn't quenching his thirst for outdoor adventure. Instead, he planned a new trip -- hike the John Muir trail in California. Prophet, another fellow thru-hiker who has been hiking with us for awhile, decided to go with Yianni to California. Thus, the Traveling Circus got to meet up with Yianni a few days ago when he came to pick up Prophet from the trail.
When we asked Yianni about his return to civilization, he responded with the sentence above: I find myself hanging out at REI.
On the one hand, picturing Yianni lurking around REI is priceless. Talking about gear, food, and the trail with customers. Haha. I'm sure they all thought he worked there.
On the other hand, what does this say about our return? Have we become so accustomed to this lifestyle that we will have trouble assimilating back to our previous lives? Will I have to get a part-time job at REI to satisfy my craving to talk about gear, food, and miles?
Emily, Brandon, and I rarely think about our transition back to society. But Yianni gave us a huge wake-up call.
I remember telling people about this trip before we began. I got it down to a few sentences, kind of like an elevator pitch: I'm graduating law school early so I can hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine with my friend Emily and my brother Brandon.
It was easy to form an elevator pitch before the trip, but what will I say to people when they ask: How was your trip?
Can I really answer this question with an elevator pitch? Will anyone really understand what I'm talking about? Am I going to feel ostracized from the life I left behind?
I have no idea what to expect upon my return to civilization. Thru-hiking is a lifestyle. And while most believe that the adventure ends on Katahdin, my guess is that the transition home will be just as daunting as some of the insane climbs we've done on the Appalachian Trail. Nevertheless, I look forward to cherishing 5 months of memories and sharing those memories with whoever chooses to listen...