One aspect of long distance hiking that I absolutely love is how it makes me appreciate the little things I have much more. On a long distance hike I typically do not have access to any of the stuff I take for granted in my day-to-day life, such as running water or electricity. I have listed below five things that I always perceive differently after a long distance hike. I believe you have to hike for more than one month for some of these to appear. When I am back to civilization for too long those eventually disappear, except #2 which I believe will forever remain a side effect on long distance hiking for me.
When thru hiking I usually carry these lightload towels to wash myself at the end of the day. They do a good job, but they are minuscule and I usually let the air dry me. Therefore whenever I get to use a real towel again while thru-hiking or at the end of a trip I truly appreciate it.
2- Grocery stores
When on a long distance hike I usually think of food a lot. I often become totally obsessed by it. Getting to a town that has a grocery store after a couple days of hiking is so exciting when you are in that state. I usually go around the store marveling at all the food that is available. That feeling never really left me even long after my hikes. I really love grocery stores.
3- Electric plugs
A lot of thru-hikers rely on their various electronic devices for entertainment, navigation and communication. Recharging those toys is therefore a recurring preoccupation on a thru hike. Over the time I have developed the habit of locating electrical outlets whenever I enter a store, cafe or restaurant. While hiking I always make sure I will be able to recharge my stuff before sitting down for a meal somewhere.
4- A “Long” vacation
Whatever used to be a long vacation (2-3 weeks) before your long distance hike of a couple months will now seem like a joke. And the idea of only getting a couple weeks of vacation a year will be terrifying. Yeah, terrifying.
5- The need to shower daily
Whenever I am back home after being outdoors for a while I have to remind myself to shower once in a while. After feeling so dirty for so long, just staying at home does not make me feel like I need to shower, especially not daily!
Of course this list is not exhaustive. A lot of things change when you decide to become a hiker!