Photos from the trail, and an anecdote about hiker mindset infiltrating daily life

NOTE: If you are trying to read my stuff as an end-to-end trail journal, click here to go to the first post from May 5 (instead of rooting around in the sidebar to find it). Note that May 6's entry inexplicably was published before May 5's, so if you want to read in order, go backwards first for one day.

Over Christmas break, I put up selected pictures from the hike in a facebook album. That album is public now, so anyone should be able to view them by clicking on the following links:

PCT Part 1: Mexico Through the Sierra

PCT Part 2: Northern California, Oregon and Washington

Here are a few pictures from those albums, just to whet the appetite:

Anecdote about hiker mindset ruining everything IRL: I'm currently in the market for a new smartphone and this morning I was comparing iPhone models online. Unfortunately, I happened to see this:

And now I can't un-see it. The iPhone 5c has a .7oz weight penalty vs. the (much more expensive) iPhone 5s (!!!) Knowing that this might be the device I will take on my next hike, I couldn't ignore that fact. Even more than the other discrepancies between the two models, this will probably stick with me as I make a decision. To paraphrase thru-hiker/philosopher Mags when it comes to saving pack weight: pounds are cheap, ounces are expensive.

In most other respects, I disengaged very cleanly from the PCT. I had a stable set of circumstances to return home to at the end, so I did that, and got on with things. Lots of hikers aren't in a position to do that: they start the hike at a juncture in life where they are adrift, and they feel even more adrift at the end. Then it's winter and there are therapeutic blog and facebook posts, a sense of disorientation and/or depression, and a very receptive audience in the community of hikers. I'm receptive and understanding of those feelings, too--I just don't have a reason to be feeling them at this point.

I very consciously don't let the hike bleed into my normal life--I shaved my facial hair immediately, I don't wear hiker clothes (even though that's totally normal in Eugene), don't even really walk around that much normally. I do write about hiking still, but in the form of practical-advice-giving on WhiteBlaze, hiking subreddits or for Yogi's 2015 guide. I think that's my own personal therapy, my chance to do a little woolgathering about the trail. And then every now and then something like the iPhone situation above comes along and my now deeply-ingrained hiker instinct forces itself onto a largely non-hiking-related decision.

So every now and then the hiker within me, who is usually ignored or even a little suppressed, breaks out and shows himself. That's fine. I've spent 11 months of my life on long-distance trails. Better to be surprised by reminders of those experiences from time to time than dwell on them to the extent that I can't cope with normal life, or on the other hand forget about them entirely.