View Full Version : Homesick

R. W. Jeffcoat
2003-02-06, 11:50
I'm a little reluctant to ask this Question, but how do you deal with being seperated from your spouse (or significant other) on a thru hike or long section hike? Over the years my wife and have have been seperated many times for extended periods but it wasn't by choice. I was in the Marine Corps when I married my wife (forty years ago) and I fully understood that if the Marine Corps wanted you to have a wife, they would issue you one. So we managed to survive many long, hard seperations because we had to - no choice. The thru hike I'm planning, however, is a seperation of choice, and to be honest, I still get homesick, worry, miss her, etc. when I'm away. Even on a short hike. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts or experiences on dealing with thru hiker seperations and the associated emotions. Thanks.

SGT Rock
2003-02-06, 12:47
Tough one. There have been days I've wanted to bail on a trail because I'm homesick, well more like miss my family, I could care less about the house.

Bad food - got it. Cold weather - no problem. Rain - unless I get flooded off the trail I'm good. Weight and terrain - don't notice it. But family, that is a hard one, especially when you are solo and the only person you think of is your wife, or how your boy would love to see what you are seeing, etc. I don't have a method of dealing with it really, I just keep going.

2003-02-06, 15:01
To be honest, that was the worst part of my entire thru-hike. I did meet my wife and 10 year old daughter at Atkins, VA for a couple of days, but not sure that it helped. It was much more difficult to start hiking on the AT again after seeing them and then having to say goodby once again. I also met them in North Adams, MA for a couple fo days, but once again it was a very difficult goodbye. Those were the only times, I even remotely thought about quiting. I always tell people after you make it 3 weeks or so, it is no longer a physical endurance it then becomes a mental endurance for the rest of the trip. Also as RW says, it was different when I was in the ARmy, I had no choice, but out there you have the choice everyday to just quit and go home. It is difficult and for me was the most difficult of anything. Takes a lot of determination and commitment along with the right attitude to make it, all the way, but it can be done.

Happy Trails and the best of luck.



2003-02-06, 19:53
I happened to read Ruben's "On the Beaten Path" over the past weekend.

Not sure if you'd like it, but the author devotes some of the book to to the difficulties of leaving his wife for six months, and of meeting up with her along the way. He writes with an unusual amount of candor regarding his own situation, and it seemed like a very "human" account in that regard.

I'd recommend getting the book. At a minimum, its a pretty good contemporary trail story. On the otherhand, it might be something that you and your wife could both read and use as a launching pad for more discussions about your hiking plans and time apart.

Rick B

SGT Rock
2003-02-06, 20:20
Excellent book, and a great idea. I should try to get my wife to read it.

2003-02-07, 10:40
Yah. I also think that was a tough part of my hike. I constantly worried about my wife and family. I called home when ever I could, to insure myself that everything was OK and to let them know that I was doing fine.
My wife didn't meet me on the trail until I got to Duncannon, PA. We considered meeting before, but we both felt that it would be too hard to seperate again.
My advise would be to stay in toutch with those back home. Lots of places to call from. Every town has a library where you can send E-mail from.
It's tough to be away from your family, but that's just another hardship that a thru-hiker has to put up with.

2003-02-07, 10:43
no problem with home sickness. i spent 26 years as a merchant mariner. a minimum of 6 months a year was spent aboard ships heading who knows where. it makes for self-sufficient spouses or in my case, 2 ex-wives.

on second thought, forget the above. you just have to make sure you and your spouse/family/friends are on the same page when comes to a prolonged absence. when that's settled, you have to lighten up, trust them and keep in touch. nothing drags you down more than a "wish you were here" attitude. if that truly is your wish, then maybe you should bring them with you or just stay home. there are a lot of things we don't get to do because we have other priorities/obligations. i know that's harsh, but these realities need to be faced before you go.

2003-02-07, 11:27
When my wife (BA Turtle) did her thru in 2001 I was relegated to stay back and feed cats/pay bills. I hiked along with her from Springer to Franklin, which helped some. Of course, leaving her at Franklin was really rough. I watched as she disappeared in tears toward Silers Bald from Windingstair Gap. We are very close and do practically everything together so this was a tough farewell. We too had spent time apart (months, weeks) during the initial year of our "long distance" relationship and then again when she was working on her doctorate. I think for me, the key was staying very busy with the work of supporting her on the trail and sending out updates. We used a lot of mail drops that year and I looked at getting those ready as if they were my "job" (the same way I am looking at hiking this year for my thru). She would call whenever she had access to a phone and I would write down the miles covered and her experiences and then issue a "mass e-mail" to a large distribution list of friends and family. At times I felt as if I was hiking along with her. Eventually time did pass and I flew up as planned to meet her for the 100 mile wilderness and the summitting of Katahdin.
I missed her like crazy, as I am sure she will miss me when I am gone this year. She has arranged to fly out and hike with me for a month, starting in Damascus, which should help both of us. Truthfully, I don't know any way around the issue other than to stay positive and accept it as being the way things are. Then just stay focussed on doing everything possible to get up each day and hike (if you're the hiker) or think through the next mail drop (if you're the support spousal unit). If at all possible, I think it's a good idea to consider (if possible) meeting the hiking spouse somewhere on the trail and even hiking along for a while if feasible.

R. W. Jeffcoat
2003-02-07, 12:50
Thanks everyone for your comments. I will definitely read Reuben's book. My wife says to thank you also. She read your replies last night and browsed the site for the first time. She was very impressed. She thinks "Keeping the Home Fires Burning" is a wonderful idea, and is sure that being able to talk with Dixiecritter, Sharon, DebW, and the others that post there, will be extremely helpful while I'm away.

Thanks again to all of you. Hopefully, I'll meet you on the trail one day.

R. W. Jeffcoat
2003-02-07, 12:55
Sorry, should have said "Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch." Great thread.

R. W. Jeffcoat
2003-02-07, 12:59
Sorry again. Should have said Great Forum. Be patient if you can - I'll get the jargon right sooner or later.

2003-02-07, 17:31
Hope y'all don't mind an opinion from this side of the hiking equation. I think the hardest part for those of us left behind is the long periods of time that we don't have a clue what's happening with our SO. I think calls whenever possible make things easier to handle on the home front. I also agree with Chief to a degree, its harder on the hiker to hear the "I wish you were here" comments. However, for me, its nice to hear that Rock misses me and wishes I could be there with him.

In our case, my hiking with him isn't an option for more reasons than just the kids. I wouldn't physically make it, I know. I am glad that he can get out there and hike because I know how much it means to him. Shoot sometimes I'm telling him to go hit the trail...lol.

Anyway, those are my jumbled thoughts of the day. :D

2003-02-07, 17:37
Just so long as you don't tell Rock to


you wouldn't say THAT to him would ya? LOL

2003-02-07, 22:45
smokymtnsteve, Nahhh I wouldn't tell him that. LOL. Although it is tempting from time to time. ;)

SGT Rock
2003-02-08, 10:48
So now I just gotta piss her hoff so she sends me to the woods. I tried to get her to read some books on hiking before - I think it was "A Walk in the Woods" but she never finished it. How can I convince her to read "On the Beaten Path"?

BTW honey - you should read "On the Beaten Path" and I really am not trying to piss you off, I swear.

Rage in a Cage
2003-02-08, 16:22
Sgt. Rock, if your wife is like mine, she probably won't read the whole book while you are at home. It is when you are on the trail that the need to understand becomes greater. Make sure you leave the book in a convenient location so she can find it when needed. My wife is very understanding of my pursuits; the problem is that due to health reasons she has never been able to get involved in hiking. This of course limits her knowledge of what I do and can sometimes cause her more anxiety from not knowing. Anyway back to the point, the only time she will pick up any of the books I have is while I am away. We spend time talking about what can be done while I'm gone, but the true test is when you're not there and out on the trail somewhere. For my wife it is the not knowing where or how I am for any length of time that is unsettling.
I have been considering the use of a GPS. I am not completely up to date on the technology, but I am thinking that it would make it possible to track me on my journey's and give her some peace of mind by being able to see that I am alive and moving along. Most of my current endeavors don't involve more than 2 weeks of hiking and are not always on clearly marked trails, so the GPS could be multi-functional for me. The problem is that a GPS would probably serve no other purpose on the AT than to give your location and it along with batteries would add more pack weight. But just maybe it would be worth the sacrifice to give the loved one's some peace of mind.
The only other suggestion I have to get dixicritter to read the book is to pick out the most important chapters that relate to you. Reading a few chapters is more doable than a whole book and it will give her some exposure to the material and insight that will help when you are away. Based on my wife’s particular reading interest, I have often theorized that the book companies need to produce two different writings of a book. One they could put the bare basic instructional material and no nonsense how-to for us to read. The other should be produced in more romantic setting with a story line more of a Harlequin nature that would be sure to be more palatable to the other halves that don’t feel the call, or are unable to hike with us but are willing to support our ventures. I had better stop there, this is starting to make sense to me and that is indeed a sign that I have said too much…:o

SGT Rock
2003-02-08, 20:05
The GPS would only weork under these circumstances:

1. She can read UTM or Lat/Long and know how to plot it.

2. You get a map that hs UTM or Lat/Long of the entire AT.

3. You get aoms sore of device that continuously transmit your GPS location - currently cost and weight prohibitive.

4. She gets something that recives the signal so she can use it.

I don't think your plan would work realistically.

2003-02-08, 20:27
The GPS would make a great solution for our family members to know where we are.
But my wife would have it superglued to me on a full time permanent basis!

2003-02-08, 20:29
I would also have the coordinates to quite a few hospitals that I've been to.

2003-02-08, 21:13
My dad's got a ham radio (2 meter?) in his truck that is tied in with his dashboard GPS some how. As he drives, a little blip shows where he is on a map on his home computer. If the computer is on, that is.

This serves no useful purpose, of course. Its hard for him to watch himself on the computer screen at home while he is driving around town.

Thankfully, I have only inheritted some of his gadget genes.

2003-02-08, 21:25
Being a bachelor grease monkey loser, all I had to leave home was my lil' racer SHO. It was very hard I tell you! I cried when I sold my motorcycle for this next hike.:(

Rage in a Cage
2003-02-08, 23:14
I agree that it is probably not realistic. What got me to thinking about it was the news report of a man that had used one to track his ex-girlfriend. Again I know little about the technology. It would be nice to see the GPS evolve into a more user friendly and price effective device. Maybe in the future, who knows?

2003-02-10, 09:51
Rage in a Cage wrote that he considered getting a GPS unit so those at home would know where he is.
Forget the GPS and just purchase one of the long, 4ft, maps of the AT put out by the ATC. Hang it at home and the family can plot your progress on the map. During my thru, my wife did that. I now have the map in my hike scrap book.

SGT Rock
2003-02-10, 10:02
Originally posted by Grampie
Forget the GPS and just purchase one of the long, 4ft, maps of the AT put out by the ATC.

Good idea. I'm gonna get me one and put it where she can see it whenever I hike the AT. Maybe get some cork board and make a frame so she can stick pins in it.

2003-02-11, 13:09
Hello, everyone...
I have finally come up with what I believe to be an appropriate course of action in regard to processing my emotional and mental reactions to my hubby's absence.
I plan to take a snapshot of him as he leaves on the Trail, loaded up with his pack and the big smile I'm sure will be on his face. Then I will take the photo to Wolf Camera and have them blow it up to life-size proportions. I will then avail myself of the tools in his garage, and affix the poster to a large slab of plywood. Just across the room from my desk, I will nail him to the wall (so to speak). At that point, I will pay a visit to Larry at Larry's Pistol and Pawn, and purchase a high caliber air pistol, which I will then keep in my right-hand desk drawer along with the paperclips and post-it notes.
<insert Simon & Garfunkel here>
"When you're weary...feelin small...When tears are in your eyes...I will be your target...I am on your wall...when you feel the need to kill..."
I think you get the picture...so to speak :D
Lucy aka Whittler's FooFoo

2003-02-11, 16:37
happiness is a warm gun...

Uncle Wayne
2003-02-12, 03:05
[QUOTE]Originally posted by WhittlersFooFoo
<insert Simon & Garfunkel here>
"When you're weary...feelin small...When tears are in your eyes...I will be your target...I am on your wall...when you feel the need to kill..."

So that's what those lyrics are, I had them figured out all wrong!