10 Ways To Boost Your Spirits (Post-Adventure) When Reality Gets You Down

Mountain Mourning: an incurable desire to return to the peace and solitude of the mountains, as soon as possible.

Mountain mourning, hiker hangover, post-adventure depression, trail withdrawal: call it what you may, but any adventure lover knows the feeling of stepping back into the “real world” after a walk in the wilderness.  This is a syndrome usually experienced by thru hikers who are coming off the trail after months of being removed from the grid. But it’s also something that myself and many of my full-time working adventure friends experience as well, even after short trips away.

glynis bryce
Post adventure blues is your body’s way of reminding you that you must return to the places where you have left a piece of your heart. 

Aside from the obvious transition to reality (look both ways before you cross the street, don’t eat with your hands etc), the life you have just been experiencing soon becomes a distant memory… but the feeling of pure bliss from your latest adventure is slower to fade. I don’t believe that it’s the drag of real life that causes this syndrome, but the lasting, incurable desire to feel the simplicity and wonder of the trail, the views that steal your breath, the challenge of the adventure. There is something addictively simple to trail life.  Sleep, eat, walk, repeat. I like that simplicity. 

How many more sleeps until I can return to here ? 

Once the reality of returning to the real world clicks in I often find myself 1) in a state of instant relief: a hot, delicious meal, clean clothes, soft bed and a nice warm shower followed by 2) a strong, pestering desire to return back to the wilderness.

How does one cope with adventure withdrawal? Here are a few things that help me transition back into reality after I return from an epic trip (hiking or not):

  1. Allow time for a good nights sleep: You are likely tired from your latest adventure. Getting a fresh start on things can help you feel better about getting up early for a long day at work or life the next morning.  Don’t plan to arrive back so late at night that you won’t wake up the next day feeling rested.
  2. Plan your next trip ASAP:  I find the best way to get over being sad that my last trip is over, is to get pumped and excited while planning for my next. It doesn’t need to be a big excursion, even an overnight or a day hike can be an exciting distraction for your post-trip sadness.

    Make a photo book, a video, or show your friends. It takes you back to the special places once you’ve returned.
  3. Re-live the memories: tell your family, friends or anyone who will listen about your adventure, in great detail. They may not care, but reliving the memories will make you feel (for a split second) like you are back there again.
  4. Check out your photos: Make a video or photo book of the great shots you took or re-read your trail notes and have a mental de-brief. Transport yourself back to that place.  This is why I take so many photos of my trips in the first place.
  5. Avoid people for a day if possible: I find that after a few days of peace, quiet and solitude, there is nothing worse than coming back to a noisy, busy, or crowded public place where inconsideration and rudeness runs rampant. I try to avoid people and public places for a good day if possible.
  6. Talk to your travel mates:  It’s likely they are going through the same feelings. They will get you. Talk to them about the epic-ness of the trip.  Maybe even plan your next adventure together.

    You can bet your trail mates are feeling the same way. 
  7. Read about it:  If you can’t be adventuring, reading about it may be the next best thing. When I’m down about missing a good adventure weekend because of work, I pick up a hiking magazine, read a backpacking forum, or check out new trails I want to do.
  8. Buy yourself a new piece of gear or a gadget: When has a bit of retail therapy ever steered me wrong? Plus, I get super pumped to try out my new gadget on my next adventure.
  9. Be realistic: Give it a week or two back in reality before you decide to quit your job to hike the AT or go live in the woods.  These feelings too shall pass. You are just re-adjusting.  Be realistic.  Keep reminding yourself: you need a job to pay for epic adventures and awesome gear. Repeat if necessary.
  10. Remember what your travels or the trail has taught you: Appreciation, patience and mental perseverance.  Apply that to your life. Your next hike will be here soon. Just hang in there and be grateful for the experiences you have had to date.

Do you suffer from post adventure blues? What helps you?

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2 thoughts

  1. Wonderful Glyn! I am in awe of some of the places you have visited!! Do you happen to have your photos on an account like Flikr? I’m taking a landscape painting class and your photos are just stunning 🙂

    I would add a #11 in there, which would be move and change your life! Move to a house in the country/forest/ocean and wake up to the serene views of nature every day. Beats my suburb.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dom! I don’t have them on flikr, just on my instagram and blog posts. Mountains are amazing! They would be a good landscape to paint. I agree with #11, but it may have to wait to retirement 😉


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