House swallows hiker… again

Hiking and thoughts on how to deal with Homesickness

Homesickness – when your house comes out to get you

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

I suspect one’s own home to be one of the absolute most challenging things hikers can meet on the trail – Most hikers have tried it, you’re out hiking and happy and things are going all-right And suddenly, before you know it, you find yourself back home in the sofa… 

What happened?

Something strange – in a moment, miles of walking is traded for days of regret… It is strange how easy it can be to divert, to fall for one of the challenges that sends most hikers off trail – Homesickness. In most cases homesickness can be cured, but if ignored, it can swallow you, just like that.

illustration of a house swallow a hiker - drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt
Homesickness can come out of the blue

The cure to homesickness

Treat it like an infection, to my experience some ways to cure it works better than others… and often, calling home is not one of them. not really because calling home is a bad idea. But because to call home, you often need to get off the trail and into some civilized area – and then you are all ready off the trail. And in places you can call from, most often you can also catch a bus from, and you will be home before you know it.

Most times you are just tired, fed-up, disappointed or going through a phase… or/and lost   worn out, dirty and need a shower. Taking one step at the time, taking a break, getting some warm soup… They are just a few of the well-tried remedies that can turn the sun back on, on a rainy day.

Other times the feeling of homesickness is more fundamental – The trail can stop making sense at all… for days. Then there is often something else going on, and that is not something bad. It can be a transformation. From place bound to trail bound, not an easy transformation to go through any way. As most hikers back home knows all too well.

If it is that kind of existential homesickness, it is not to be cured, but to be transcended – it’s a bit like quitting smoking, it’s not fun and there is no turning back…

As Winston Churchill said:  “if you’re going through Hell, keep going”

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