After finishing the PCT, I experienced some interesting re-integration symptoms. Physically, I was in the best shape I'd ever been in, though I weighed nearly the same as I had when I started the trail. I was a pile of muscle, but everything hurt all the time. Walking, which I seemed to need to do constantly, was excruciating every time I started it, and only became comfortable after a mile or two. My hammered second toe only grew more annoyingly bent, and the Morton's neuroma, which I'd had before I even started the trail, was noticeably unchanged in its persistent knife-jabbing-into-the-top-of-my-foot kind of pain. I couldn't sleep in soft beds; my back would spasm and cramp after a few hours. Hell, it still does after more than 8 hours in a soft bed.
Psychologically, I had to contend with the disappointment of not doing the final section of the trail. I had convinced myself that I was really alright with it, but as the months passed, I began kicking myself for it. I will probably just do the whole damned thing again someday. It nags me that much. There is little worse than not seeing something through to the end.
And then, well, I was pretty broke. I had managed my money very well on the trail; I was even able to rent a car and drive back to Vegas after doing some hiking and camping on the Olympic Peninsula, but, when I got back, I had to get a job with some immediacy. So, I did that. A job which seemed made for me fell in my lap, and I worked for a year and a half as a Designated Biologist on a solar site in southern California. It paid well, and I worked with old friends and quickly found new ones as well, which definitely helped me deal with the shock of not simply walking all day.
But now, with the end of the job, it's time to kick up some dust again. I've chosen my home state because I have such a grudging love for this arid country. There is no better way to understand this place better, for me, than to walk it. It's an indelible part of me, and I intend to know it better. My starting date will be 17 September, 2016.
Thanks in advance to Therese, David, and my dad for helping me resupply and do all the adult things that are hard to do on the trail, like pay bills and maintain stored stuff. I love you guys!