The Dis-Ease of Thru-Hikers ~ PHD: Post-Hiking Depression

Katahdin ~ The end of the Trail and an epic adventure. ~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Katahdin ~ The end of the Trail and an epic adventure. ~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Heather "Anish" Anderson's thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail set a new record. On 10-29-15, she described what many hikers feel afterwards. I call it PHD: Post-Hiking Depression.

When northbounders exit the 100-Mile-Wilderness, they're confronted with a majestic view of Mount Katahdin, the end of the Appalachian Trail. They're also hit with two distinct emotions. "Yes!!! I'm almost done!" and "Oh, no! I'm almost done!!"

PHD: Post-Hiking Depression

As Anish said on Facebook:

There are moments when the absence of focus, miles, and freedom to walk send you spiraling into despair and you must grieve the death of it. There is a churning in your stomach, and an ache in your soul.

Life feels empty when the trail is over, even if it's full. It is like a breakup that leaves you irreparably heartbroken. Only time, and perhaps another journey, can mend the wound.

Will your Trail lead to PHD: Post-Hiking Depression? ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Will your Trail lead to PHD: Post-Hiking Depression? ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Coping with PHD: Post-Hiking Depression

Man Cannot Live by the Trail Alone

Don't be afraid to stop and "bloom where you're planted" instead of obsessing on the next Trail. Enjoy life where you are and be thankful for where you were.

It's OK to Not Be Understood

Few will understand the enormity of your journey. Everyone has a story. Listen to the journeys of others. You know how to persevere. Encourage others with what you've learned.

Set New Goals

Long-distance hikers can tough it out. Apply that strength to other goals that can benefit others, not just yourself. You can do anything. Do good.

Treasure Your Loved Ones

It's a mean world. Appreciate people who are kind and loving. If you need more loved ones, forgive and love others more. Take them on a Happy Trail!

Can't cope with PHD: Post-Hiking Depression? There's no dishonor in getting professional help.


Tags: Appalachian Trail, Hiking, News, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, Safety, Hikers, Hiking Safety, anish heather anderson post-hiking depression, phd post-hiking depression, coping with post-hiking depression, and robert sutherland post-hiking depression

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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Comments
Sitkacat on Nov 1, 2015
I'm getting kicked out of my residence here in Saint Louis I've worked for the IRS for 13 years only about $13-$14 grand in my Ira which is what I'm planning to use for my journey, I'm overweight with a pretty bad drug problem, I'm seriously considering a winter walk thru, I know I've got the mental for it but not maybe the physical but I'm gonna do it God damn it! Wish me luck and if you see a white guy going bald with a drug problem frozen to death its me,,,