Check out part 1 here.
Why? Crap,the hardest question of all, why? I wanted to tour the West by foot I guess, and all I had to do was walk everyday on a well established route, easy!
Life after adventure? Hikers will tell you that the hike “changed” them. But what does that mean? For me, the change was subtle yet profound. On the trail, I felt more content, more accepting of myself, more comfortable and compassionate with other human beings than ever before. This has carried over into my off-trail life to some degree. I worry very little about how people see me, I smile and say “hi” to strangers on the street, just like I did on the trail. If they don’t respond, no worries. It’s their problem, not mine. I fall back on a phrase a lot in my life: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” In every culture there are some restless souls who wonder or wander. The PCT is a perfect fit for us. At home, every night I fall asleep counting campsites one after another, retracing my route north, finding the calm and peace of the trail. In my heart, the trail will always be there. But I want to physically be there hiking a long trail too.
I didn’t hike to “be fixed” or “find myself.” For me, every single day out there, even the hard ones, I was happy and content in my own skin. I didn’t know that was possible. It was the best therapy possible. Of course, any traveler returning to the world after 5 months has stuff to catch up on. A lot of the younger hikers needed to find a new job and a place to live. Others of us returned to home and family and jobs. Some hikers intended the PCT to be a major break from the old life and didn’t know what they would do next, they hoped that the trail experience would help them see their way forward. But I would say, that nearly all of us thru hikers found ourselves lost, for the first time in months, truly lost in the so-called real world.
The future? I’ve been busy and traveling and spending time doing things outside that I love, running and snowboarding, but I only started feeling better when my husband decided he’d like to hike through Washington, the country he grew up in. I would like to see the Cascades in a different season, when I’m not so fatigued from hiking 2000 miles. I jumped at the plan, and could stop trying to keep secret that the accomplishment of thru-hiking the PCT wasn’t a check mark on a bucket list, but an addiction and the new plan for my “one wild and precious life” as Mary Oliver says. So the plan is for us to hike slowly and carefully for awhile, until Dan flies home to Alaska to catch our yearly supply of red salmon and I continue south on the PCT to Mexico. It will look different going the other direction, I will have way less company but I am good with solitude. I would love to be hiking a different trail, the CDT, and see something new, but I truly love the PCT and I think I mostly just need to be walking, day after day, for months. The cure for post trail blues turns out to be planning the next long hike.
Puff puff says: This woman is a total ‘badass‘ as the Americans would say. I really enjoyed her company and her no nonsense attitude, and the fact she drank water that had a dead cat in it! I found her really inspirational as she is doing this at nearly twice my age, so all the excuses I hear about age being a restrictive factor in making decisions about adventures are rubbish! Get out there and do something whatever your age. You can read her awesome blog here. Maybe we will meet again on the PCT soon…
Farmer, 38 — Michigan, USA
Why? I thru hiked the PCT because I enjoy adventure, feeling free, challenge myself, and it was there.
Life after adventure? I’ve readjusted well back into society. I am fortunate enough to have a job that has me working outdoors 50% of the time.
The future? I have no plans for any other adventures at this time. But all that can change at a moments notice.
Puff puff says: One of the only people I know who has got his shit together! It is possible to go on an adventure and have a plan for when you finish and be happy with that plan. Not everyone struggles.
Cuban B, 30 — Fort Lauderadale, Florida, USA
Why? Originally I thru hiked the AT. Mainly it was a way for me to prove to myself that a city boy like myself was able to accomplish something like this. At the time, I had never EVER did anything like that. Legit, I had never even been hiking, or even camped by myself. But I went out anyway and fell in love with the people, places, and the sense of being in the wild (for lack of a better term). In regards to the PCT… I had reached a point in my life where I had everything I could have ever wanted, a decent job, had a long term girlfriend, my own place, EVERYTHING. Yet, I was still unhappy with my life. I felt if I had settled on life and maybe there was something that I was missing out on. At the time I made the decision, I was on a military mobilization. So I decided when I got off, I would take 6 months and head out again. My job wasn’t trying to hear that noise again, so they said they wouldn’t give me the time off and in a moment of insanity a guess, about 2 seconds after they said that, I gave them my six month notice and told them it was a pleasure working with them and that I would give my all until I left in March and left the office. The rest is history.
Life post adventure? Readjustment was completely different for both trips. The AT trip, I had my gf at the time there who I was able to talk to, go on adventures with, and just pretty much keep me company. On the PCT, I had found out about halfway through that my gf had cheated on me. So just like that, I kicked her to the curb and parted ways. So now my whole life I planned post trail was no longer a thing. So once I got off trail, I started running as some other thru hikers said I would be decent at it. So I started running on the roads, trails, and it would kind of put me back on the trail. That being alone feeling, completely soaked in sweat and nothing but time. So now I’m running upwards of 50-100 miles every week. I also pick up a lot of overtime from work saving up money for the next adventure and I do school. I try not to leave any free time because then I start missing the trail. I always look at my pictures, others pictures on social media, read blogs, stay somewhat active on the 2015 pct class FB and I feel that it somewhat keeps me connected to the trail. I’ve also moved to the West (even thought I work in the East a lot) so I can see the mountains. But life changes…I definitely feel more humbled and much more calmer then before trails. I appreciate peoples generosity a lot more since trail life. Because it’s truly the small things that make the biggest changes. I don’t judge people like I used to in my early 20s. You really don’t know what people have gone through unless you’ve walked in their shoes. Idk… I guess I just feel more mature overall.
The future? Well, I would love to do the Continental Divide Trail, Colorado Trail and the Arizona Trail but I run into the $$$ issue. Because of the running, I’m looking into running the 4 desert challenge grand slam in 2018. Maybe doing one of the pre-mentioned trails in 2017. I want to get into mountaineering. One of my buddies from trail, BearLee, does all that so I want to join him on his adventures. But other than that, I still miss the trail really bad (PCT over the AT). Especially when we get nice weather. When I see my trail friends post things, it makes me want to talk to them but I feel that would get annoying so I don’t. So I bind my time with running in the mountains to keep me occupied.
Puff Puff says: One of the funniest and kindest guys I met on the trail. Thank you Cuban B for being so open and honest. I hope this makes you realise that a lot of us feel the same way and if you want to talk to people, you should talk to them! Maybe we will meet again on the CDT one day…
Crunchmaster, 21 — Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
Why? I thru hiked because I love the freedom you have hiking for 5-6 months. It’s a good way to get away from all the stresses at home.
Life post adventure? Readjusting was really tough for about a month after finishing the trail. I couldn’t sit still and relax! I found myself just constantly moving around trying to find things to do. I appreciate all the things we take for granted in life such as: a dry place to sleep every night and running water.
The future? I’m planning on attempting a thru hike of the CDT this coming summer to complete the triple crown!
Puff Puff says: Crunchmaster is so young and he has done so much already, I have no doubt he will be successful in his triple crown attempt. Not only did he complete the PCT but he went off and did a bunch of side trips, including climbing Mt Rainier, on the way! Follow him on Instagram @trevorpyke
Costco, 32 —I Grew up in Japan, moved to California, USA, when I was 18
Why? I didn’t like my life, and I didn’t like who I was. Dissatisfied with notion that I was meant to pay bills and die, I wanted to experience real life and cultivate attributes that I knew I lacked; kindness, fortitude, adaptability and mental toughness. I’d never finished anything I’d started and I felt ashamed of that. I wanted to do something I was proud of and become the person I aspired to be. I have an introverted personality and I wanted to come out of my shell and meet people, make new friends, etc.
Life after adventure? Difficult. I am me, but not me. I don’t belong here anymore. I feel intensely isolated from everyone, even my family. I’ve found that most people don’t actually want to hear about my hike; it is too foreign a concept, and they cant relate to it. I think when I tell people what I experienced and how it changed me it makes them feel uncomfortable. I ride the train every morning to my job in san francisco with headphones on, trying to block out a world that feels painfully alien to me. I work for a well known tech company in San Francisco and I am cognizant of the fact that I am very lucky. But, all this is completely meaningless to me. I hate the fact that I am a cog in this corporate machine that only seeks to enrich a dozen billionaire stakeholders. I am bitterly aware of the irony that my lifestyle embodies all that I hate about consumer culture and I hate myself for not being brave enough to quit my job and embrace the uncertainty of making a life that I want. All I want to do is go back out into the wilderness and feel alive again. I desperately want to feel free and unfettered from this sick joke of a society that tells me to do this, buy that, get a mortgage, run on the hedonic treadmill and never be satisfied with your life or status. I’m afraid that the trail has altered my mind to an extent that I will never be happy with the status quo and I will never be able to have a normal relationship or live up to my friends or family’s expectations of me. I feel dead inside.
The future? Someday, hopefully soon, I intend to thru-hike the Great Himalaya trail. I’d like to do the JMT this year.
Puff Puff says: Anyone in San Francisco or the surrounding areas please go and find Costco and give him a hug! My lasting memory of Costco is him walking off into the distance and into the storm with a ‘giant lightening conductor’ (his ice axe) on his back! I associate with a lot of what he says. If you quit your job Costco, so will I…
Light Feather, 50 — Washington State, USA
Why? I thru hike the PCT because I didn’t get into the ultra-marathon that I applied to like Western States 100 and Leadville 100. I already planned to take 5-6 months, hiking the PCT suited me.
Life after adventure? I don’t think I’ve found readjustment after hiking the PCT. I have had a hard time going to work a day routine(10-12 hrs a day) without seeing the sunrise and sunset this winter. I missed waking up a new place, running with the butterflies and drinking hot tea while watching the sun set. Has it changed me? Yes! It gives me a lot of confidence, confidence that I can live simply day by day and I can solve my problems without the help from others.
The future? My future plans will be, to live freely and independently.
Puff puff says: A true free spirit, I loved sharing my last week on the trail with her. She did the whole thing in sandals and runs all her crazy races in her sandals too. I’m not really sure what she does for a job, I like to think that she doesn’t really work and she is just running all over the place all of the time!
The Dentist, 28 — Tucson, Arizona
Why? There were lots of reasons, really. I wanted to *finally* go on an adventure. I wanted to do something I’d be able to look back on for the rest of my life and be able to think something like, “Yeah, I really *accomplished* something there.” Perhaps the biggest reason I did it, though, was because I heard about it and became rather infatuated with it. There was some part of me that just *knew* I had to hike a long trail. So I did.
Life after adventure? Readjustment has been very rough. I’ve found any kind of “normal” lifestyle to be anathema to the things I learned through six months of living out of my backpack. I haven’t wanted to go back to the 9-to-5 lifestyle. I don’t care about money anymore at all, other than to have enough to live on. I don’t want *things* anymore. All I want is to learn and grow and spend time with people who are interesting, beautiful (on the inside, I mean), inspiring, and who enjoy sharing what they have to offer with others.
The future? I’m moving to Sayulita, Mexico towards the end of March to start adventuring again. The six months since I finished the PCT, while not wasted because they have really demonstrated to me what *not* to do after knowing just how amazing the human experience can be, have felt like I’ve missed out on opportunities to have fun and to live and learn with other people. I need a shake up!
Puff Puff says: I only met him a couple of times, once on the summit of Baden Powell which is quite a cool place to meet someone, but like he said in his message to me – “even though we haven’t spoken much, the trail brings people together in ways I’m just floored by, I mean here I am just being totally candid with you!” He is right. This is what the trail does and it’s a wonderful thing.
Double Dip, 25 — Oakland, California, USA
Why? I had met thru-hikers while hiking in the Sierras before and there was something about them I admired so much. It wasn’t so much their athletic prowess, though I did admire that. It was the ease with which they walked, the way they seemed to be able to enjoy the mountains in a different way because it was their home. When I first started backpacking I was always so nervous about my pace, the next water, when I’d get to camp. I really wanted to know how it felt to be completely confident in myself and immersed in the wilderness. I wanted to know what it felt like to transcend the bullshit out there. There were other reasons too. I thought I’d meet new best friends out there. I thought I would gain some self confidence from doing it. I wanted to be in the wilderness for five months!
Life after adventure? Readjustment has been a real bitch. It has come in stages. At first, I was just overjoyed by food, completely blown away by it, and that was all I thought about. Beyond eating I had absolutely no idea what to do with myself. The most jarring thing to me was that I had to make so many choices and decisions all the time. On the trail my only mission was to walk north. I had to make choices like whether to have one or two donuts for breakfast, whether to start hiking in wool or not, and deciding how far I’d push it to stop for water. They were questions I could answer my listening to my body. After the trail, the choices seemed so bafflingly trivial. I hated having to decide what clothes to wear. I didn’t have a mission each day, and my brain was completely frazzled by this lack of direction. It was an impossible predicament to try to explain to people. I was legitimately worried my brain has regressed and I was simply a much stupider person. Six months later, I am more used to all of the choices I have to make each day, but I still think most of them are ridiculous. I love having access to music and books, and I still really love food. But at least ten times a day I daydream about walking alone with everything I need, stopping to inspect a flower or a mushroom or to cool down next to a stream in silence. I have become a much quieter person. Like many people, I suspect the trail has changed me in ways I have yet to understand. I have very conflicted feelings about the trail because it wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I made some stupid mistakes and I didn’t make new best friends. In that sense I don’t miss it, rather I’d like to do it all over again. I did, however, experience the wilderness in a way I never had before, and it was everything I wanted it to be in that sense.
The future? I hope to do the CDT after I finish grad school, and maybe the PCT again. I’ll certainly keep coming back to sections of the PCT for many years. I am currently traveling in Peru, but it is quite different than thru-hiking. I have to remind myself to be open to new kinds of travel, but God nothing is like thru-hiking. It is seriously addicting and I suspect it will alter the course of my life in a substantial way.
Puff Puff says: I enjoyed racing through Oregon with Dana, we had our own things to think about and deal with so we kept ourselves to ourselves mostly, but for me, just having someone who was ‘there’ was a great help, and I was very appreciative of having a friend to camp with and chat to at the end of the long Oregon days. She didn’t even complain when I set up my tent so it was actually touching hers! I’m very envious of her trip to Peru!
ACE, 24 — Michigan, USA
Why? I decided to hike because I wanted to be surrounded by new sights, sounds, scents. I was bored, uninspired, and I thought I was turning into someone I wasn’t proud to be (though I would never let that happen) ha! Once I decided to hike, things got scary and serious. Friends and Family had so many concerns and questions, I had some doubts that I had to deal with. Later, I had the opportunity to squash those doubts simply by completing what I had started! I hiked for the learning experience.
Life after adventure? Re-adjusting isn’t my thing. It’s not. I almost REFUSE to readjust. I am happy but not quite fulfilled and not settling for that!! Sure, life can be overwhelmingly disappointing at times- luckily I have this reserve of afterglow happiness and gratitude that I gained on the hike. I bust it out whenever I need some positivity. The people I met during the hike ABSOLUTELY had something (everything) to do with this positivity that I WILL carry through my life. I’ll spread dat shit like butta baby (like butta).
The future? I’ll be traveling in Southeast Asia starting in just a week EEEEK! I always have a new adventure in mind…bike touring, rock climbing, diving, cooking classes, growing things, swimming lagoons, gazing upon waterfalls, dancing for decades all over the world! High peaks, crazy freaks and faraway lands to give me peace! However, many of my favorite life adventures are accidental. I’m almost more excited for those adventures over the ones I plan on!
Puff Puff says: Refusing to readjust is the way forward I think, and that positive attitude is a lesson we could all learn from. Ace has recently shaved her head to raise money for charity, I wish I was brave enough to shave my head and get over my stupid fear of not wanting to be ‘judged’ by society for doing it. This girl is going places others will only dream of.
Bonus Miles, 34 — Olympic Peninsula, Washington (from Virginia)
Why? It is more difficult to say to an audience I’m not familiar with that I’m simply following Jesus, it seems to make some uncomfortable, yet this is exactly why for me. The longer answer is because I had begun to make decisions away from the anxiety of this world a few years prior to the hike. Quitting one job to go to another that offered 30% less money but presumably much less stress. Instead, I was sucked back into an even more stressful situation. I then quit everything work related. Stress went higher, what do I do!? This CANNOT be “IT!!”. Went to grad school. More stress! I knew my grad school trajectory was bringing me right back into another stressful field of work. Like a sick joke. Nope that’s not the answer. Quit grad school. As I was beginning to travel the US, in preparation for indefinite global travel and mission work, someone mentioned the PCT. What’s that? I wondered. So I looked into it and despite having never camped before, I figured, how hard could it be, aye? Famous last words. On top of that, I felt photography and writing was to be my next thing – hiking through world-class idyllic scenes seemed a natural accompaniment to those arts.
Life after adventure? Toward the end of the PCT, hikers began talking about post-hike depression. “It’s a real thing,” they said, adding that “readjusting to society might not be easy.” Strangely, hearing this actually brought me an unexpected contentment. The thought of having to make society’s spiritual darkness my home again sounded as desirable as very slowly breaking a bone. After all, I went on the trail to remove myself from what I finally perceived to be a big part of the problem. Society, as convenient and luxurious as it is devoid of peace and happiness. On the trail, it came to me, going back to “real life” causes depression because our souls were made to be at peace and society does not offer the genuine article, but surrogate substances to induce a relaxed feeling – but not peace. Why in the world would I want to get “used to” the grinding down of my soul again? Why would I want to tempt myself into thinking the city offers the answers rather than the natural. Wow, to say this with confidence, is a fine describer of how much a high-octane city slicker like me has actually changed because of the truth written on nature.
You see, one personal trail goal was to begin the long transformation into a peaceful, loving and confident man, someday resulting in a heart that genuinely loves my fellow man simply because it’s who I was made to be. Nature was anticipated to be a helpful guide for this transition of finally recognized to be ever-present anger, stress and anxiety. Finally I realized that until I admitted my weaknesses, real growth was a mirage. The trail revealed that my soul has been in violent and anxious conflict to nature’s resolute peace and thereby my own intended nature. Despite myself, long-exposure to the Pacific Crest Trail, to nature, managed to convert my knowledge of what is “right” and “important” into understanding. What good is knowledge without understanding? Nature made it’s way into my soul and gave me evidence instead of conjecture.
Nature reignited my soul, teaching me that peace is actually a real thing – not some abstract concept – and it’s fantastic, albeit elusive to a fearful heart like mine that closes at the hint of pain. So, there was a battle, my mind and heart began resisting nature’s lessons the longer I was away from it. Without fully understanding why, many hikers will suffer in their deepest parts for what I believe to be a simple yet difficult to reconcile reason. There is something changing with the exposure to nature, but what? Whether we believe it or not, within nature, we all receive the evidence of a artistic and lovely Creator, our soul understands the majesty and our bodies even calm, releasing emotional, mental and spiritual pressure, slowly returning to the intent. Breathing normalizes. The racing thoughts evaporate. The anchors of the past are released. You become present. Yet only in intervals at first, like “gasps of lovely peace” as if our hearts and minds are resisting the evidence of Something greater and altogether lovely. It doesn’t sync with my beliefs!
Then suddenly we return to a society that is both familiar and alien at the same time. We see evidence of what the absence of a connection to the natural word produces. It reminds you of the chains you so willingly left behind. It is more than the actual noise that makes our souls recoil and cringe. Our minds and hearts are left in utter confusion trying to reconcile the sadness. What is reality? Why do I feel empty? Yet, this emptiness was actually an improvement for which I’m thankful for. That emptiness was a marked advance from denial. Before, I shoved money and worldly success, into that void that I now left open to air out. I believe we thru hikers suffer because of a privilege: not being able to accept the lies anymore. We’d rather be numb than dumb again.
The crunch of your footsteps on the trail becomes a sort of soundtrack, a sound that becomes as familiar as breathing and almost as important. Being separated from the trail is almost like being separated from breathing. We find ourselves not wanting to stay in town too long. “Gotta get back to the trail, man.” Perhaps it’s not the sound of the trail but the trail’s pieces combine to bring to us actual sustenance. It is the sites, the smells, the hiker community, the physical accomplishments, emotional healing and spiritual growth combined into a growing new paradigm that you hope to become a continuum. All these intangibles become important and you understand in a jolt for me – this is not the odd thing to do, living a life society says is “normal” is actually the strange and brow-raising thing. I’ve lived in a bizarre world up until recently, where everything is backwards and everyone seems to believe that’s just fine. Hiking for 5 months became the most sane and logical thing I’ve ever done. As I write, in the back of my head is the sound of the trail and it brings me comfort as a fan brings comfort to a baby. With just three words I will bring to the mind of any PCT hiker, the same exact sound: crunch, crunch, crunch. Ahhhh.
The trail has views that will confuse you with majesty. Huh? Really? Don’t lie to me, seriously? There were times where I stopped and stared and I could only produce a sad look as my chest began to hurt. Tears welling in my eyes. Is this emotion breaking through? The scene was so poignant that it actually demanded my heart. Yet, hundreds of miles earlier this would not have happened, the trail was changing my heart. There is much more written upon this creation than what your senses perceive. Like a lovely and invisible mist, this truth works into our hidden places and begins a restoration.
The trail is a beautiful paradox. It is physically painful. It is mentally painful. It is often emotionally draining too. Combine these and you would think that such a routine would be unbearable after a few weeks. Not so. There is no denying that the trail is indeed painful but it is of a different flavor of pain society offers. Some pain leads to health, other pains lead to chronic sickness – sometimes they feel the same. To the untrained soul they may be similar but there is one giant difference. The pain felt in nature is building you up, the pain in society is breaking you down. Nature is making you more peaceful, society makes you more anxious. You get used to one or the other! Those of us who understand this consciously or even unconsciously choose to move forward on the trail because the pain is always worth it even when it hurts more than anything experienced before.
On the PCT, we don’t have money motivating us, it is now contentment and actual worth that is the motive power. Because of this, the effort is well with the soul. It reveals the underlying ugliness of what we have left especially while it is replacing it with something soothing. The contrast grows. The divide becomes unbridgeable. I no longer want the paradigms to connect anymore because the truth is they cannot exist on the same plane, one is far superior to the other. They are not – they cannot be compatible. I will not attempt to kidnap my soul for some green paper curse if it will cost me my purpose, my relevance and my contentment – these are priceless.
So, I sit here in the Olympic Peninsula, in a cabin, off-the-grid, near a National Forest. Daydreaming about this hike and thinking about the Pacific Northwest Trail. But, I am, to put it bluntly, poorer than I’ve ever been, and my personal life appears in shambles, I’ve become a photographer and somehow I’m convinced this is where God wants me. I have to pause here and admit that I’m fully aware of how “crazy” all this sounds. That’s actually part of the point. This is also something common with thru-hikers, we are all willing to risk it all for what is important to us. To tell you all this without giving you an impression of who I used to be is unfair to the story. I was once very wealthy, hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting in an account, two cars, bought a house in my mid-twenties, exotic vacation, beautiful women, many material things, highly respected and accomplished in my field of work, etc. Now I’m nearly broke and have gone into a profession that is highly competitive and pays little. I’m in the middle of the hardest few months of my life (in all senses of life). I have no idea what’s next as I put it all in God’s hands. This may all sound very sad and crazy but get this: This is exactly where I’m supposed to be. I find solace on the horizon, even in the dark valley I’m in. It beats being wealthy and heartless. It beats not even knowing I’m lost! Though nature is certainly not the entire solution it has been a major contributor to waking me up and it worked in concert with my belief system to bring holistic repair to a war-weary soul.
My life after the trail can be described simply as “growing pains.” I know something beautiful is soon to happen. Something true. Something right with my soul. I’ve returned to the realm of the living but change hurts – a lot. I understand my eternal trajectory even while I do not know what will happen next week. The deep satisfaction is more important than the temporal comforts. To build my house on solid Rock is paramount. My heart is again attached to my mind. I’m in reckless pursuit of what we all had as children. Untainted heart. Combine that with adult intellect and we can change the world. So when I say this to you, I mean this in the nicest way possible: take a hike!
The future? Got my photography website running, so I checked the box there. Future adventures are to travel anywhere natural and beautiful. It need not be global as there are many places in reach here in the US and Canada. That is, until I can fund global travel. It might be an “adventure ministry” where I would lead adventures and tell people how I see nature, and how they can open their hearts to the restorative powers therein. Hopefully we can convert more people to appreciate the amazing power of the outdoors! More immediate goals are to walk all over Olympic National Park and Forest as already here and these parks offer so, so much! I will also be training for a 50 mile ultra marathon, come find my running the Olympic Mountains!
Puff Puff says: Bonus Miles does not do anything by half and I had no doubt his contribution would be the longest! The PCT has changed everyone, but not everyone set out to be changed. Bonus Miles did, and it was only the start of his journey. I have a lot of respect for how he has completely changed his life and how he has gone into it with his eyes wide open. Read his blog here and check out his Instagram @abel.rojas.photography
Thank you so much to everyone who has shared their stories. I hope the stories inspire future hikers and help past hikers to make sense of it all.