It has been a year since leaving the trail. Though it was only 4.5 months, plus many years of dreaming and scheming, it made a profound impact on me. Before my feet hit the sand in California, I would find myself spiraling down a thru-hiker rabbit hole of researching gear, reading blogs and testing equipment. Honestly, I thought I would complete it and be done.
That hasn’t been the case. There isn’t a day that goes by that my heart doesn’t yearn to be back. To feel my feet hit the ground, my muscles firing, to smell nature in a way that you do not achieve by a weekend or week-long trip. I still smile stupidly at small creeks and gasp at how great of a water source they would be. Or see places where your average backpacker would pass by as an unsuitable camp site and think, “nah, this will work.”
And to be honest here, I haven’t backpacked since the trail. I came back, with a goal set. Rafael and I have been dreaming of leaving Portland and traveling across the US. This required us both to have remote work, as neither can afford to live otherwise. I was lucky enough to start a 100% remote job when I got back and Rafael had been building up his freelance business while I hiked.
We then found a Sprinter van that met our needs and we added onto. In the spring, we started selling and giving away almost all of our belongings. At the end of May, we packed up what we had left and moved out of the apartment we’ve spent the past 3 years in. While working on the van, we house sat for friends and family, and stayed with friends who helped us with the build out.
Since then, we’ve driven across the northern US to spend fall in Vermont and New Hampshire. Along the way, we visited Yellowstone, Devil’s Tower, Mt Rushmore, Badlands, and Niagara Falls, camped in amazing parks, seen beautiful countryside and have met some wonderful people. The year is not over yet though! We will be celebrating Halloween in Sleepy Hollow, NY, visiting friends in North Carolina and will then make our way to visit family in Texas. There will be many stops along the journey and I’m excited to discover what lies ahead!
PS: You can follow our vanlife travels on Instagram: @callofthewheeled.