Monday, December 13, 2010

And That's All You Have to Show

Written by: Brandon "Monkey" Imp

This feels good. My fingers have minds of their own. They remember what to do. It's comforting.

Today marks four months since completing the Appalachian Trail. I only cried twice today; I call it progress. Crying is an odd concept - I am not sad or angry but satisfied and longing. My body is once again coated with a thin layer of healthy fat. Those "children strapped to the back of my legs" (as some NJ friends liked to call my calves) have regressed to mere toddlers. My face is not hollow and my feet are unmarked. The last of my hiking scars have faded. I want it all back. My body has become complacent yet my awareness of potential makes me feel on-edge. Why am I sitting in a pile of dirty laundry? I would rather be wearing them on the AT.

Four months have passed. I could have southbounded in this time. What do I have to show for my time away from the trail? An overwhelming desire for stabilization yet perpetual movement and an unsettled lifestyle. I want the 9-5, where I laugh with my new friends and go to happy hour after work. I want to entertain guests with a dinner party then crash on my couch over white chocolate raspberry ice cream and an episode of Dexter. My weekends should be open to exploring my new city of San Francisco; I should sleep in on Saturdays to cure my hangover. Doesn't it sound great? I think so. I am still searching for it - the lucky break in a down economy. Employers do not care about a Cornell degree or an AT thru-hike under my belt - they blindly need two years of experience for their entry-level positions. Doing your best has not been enough for the 45+ jobs I have applied for.

I am still hiking. Not the Appalachian Trail, of course. One step at a time. Know the end goal, but do not yellow blaze your way ahead. Love the trail angels that give you rides and housing; lend a supporting hand to those hiking alongside; do not let the nay-sayers bring you down. A woman begged for money on the street to buy me a hot cup of tea on Thursday - she saw something in me, and that's pretty cool.

I live in San Francisco now, staying afloat. I work 60+ hours per week and have yet to attend happy hour. I sleep in my camping gear on my bedroom floor and maintain a diet of cereal, chocolate milk, and pasta. I don't have much time for myself, let alone the handful of friends I am trying to establish. This is hard. I am tired. But then I walk out my front door and look at the sky - the sun and the stars are still the same. I think I'll be all right. Besides, there is another big adventure brewing for us. Fingers crossed this will pan out...


  1. Another big adventure - a PTC thru-hike? LOL! ;)

  2. No, more along the lines of lowlife reality tv that gains viewership through the stresses and drama experienced by participants.

  3. We were lucky to find temporary biologist jobs these past two months but alas that is ending this weekend. As for permanent jobs---who knows when that will happen. But we may have another trick up our sleeve... ;)

  4. Hey Anonymous, if you're going to play the lowlife reality tv card, you mind as well let us know who you are.

  5. The trail is somthing you will look back on for the rest of your life with happiness, when your middle aged, married, whatever, bored, 9-5 job, living in suburbia, it will be the time on the trail that will put a smile on your face for no reason, Its the hard times in life that give a value to the good times.

  6. I agree with Peter. I did GA to ME in 2003. Since then I have done many other things. This year I commanded an infantry company in Afghanistan. During that time, when I was in a low place, I reflected on my long and solitary hike on the AT and it made me happy.

    But I don't think for me the experience of the trail could ever be reproduced by going back. Some things are better left to nostalgia, while as a person I continue to confront more difficult challenges.

  7. Brandon,

    You have experienced the ultimate nature journey on the AT. That is now ingrained in you. It will always be gnawing at you to "push you outside" and re-connect with the universe. I encourage you to get outside as much as possible & let Nature fill you with the joy and peace that it brings!!!

    Mark (Emily's Uncle)

  8. Yikes. This is 3rd or 4th comment I've posted. Getting really stoked reading yalls words. I'm suddenly wanting it all back again. My mind is wandering from the JMU campus to the PCT. Thank you thank you thank you for writing down your heart and soul. You're a blessing to us all.

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