I'm on a train leaving Philadelphia right now. Heading back to the trail after my longest break from hiking in almost three months. It's been a full week since I've been home in the mountains. I've been on vacation in Philly and Vegas for a wedding and 4th of July and World Cup soccer. It's been tons of fun; I've met great people, had amazing food, and taken like 10 showers.
Before leaving the trail I was wondering how I would feel being away for so long. I thought the bright lights of the big cities would be fun to see. It turned out to be a good distraction and a sensory overload, but in the end I did miss the dim light of a campfire slowly burning out just outside my tent as I lay down for the night or the seemingly impossibly bright light from a full moon on a clear night spotlighting my tent all night. It's almost like trying to sleep with your bedroom light on.
I missed the views, the relief of climbing the last uphill of the day, the disappointment of realizing that there was still another uphill after that, the comfort of knowing or at least recognizing every person that you see the whole day, the kindness of strangers, and the weight of my pack. I have serious pack separation anxiety.
There are great things about being in town that I had forgotten about though. People watching is a sport that I had thoroughly enjoy. It's much easier when you see more than 20 people in a day. Vegas is one of the best places to people watch out there, so I had a great time sitting at a pool with a $7 beer and watching the chaos of bachelor parties ensue. The Canadien ones are the best.
Walking around with the ability to take different routes is a convenience that I have not had in a long time and didn't even think about before arriving in Philadelphia. On the trail there are not a lot of options as far as paths to take to Maine. You have to follow the white blazes or be lost are your two options. Walking around a big city with people speed walking in every possible direction at the same time was fun and seemed kind of dangerous. But I had a great time randomly strolling through the streets of Philly running into historical landmarks and delicious food stands.
I had a wonderful time with family and friends but after almost a full week off, several cheesesteaks and pizzas and beers later, I'm ready to get back on the trail.