PDA

View Full Version : It will change your life



notgettingyounger
12-12-2013, 12:21
New to White Blaze and this is my first post. I'm a mid 40's day dreamer in the Great Plains who's been on the AT train of thought for years. Read enough books about thru-hikers and you inevitably read, "It will change your life". My excuse has always been, "I'll do it when the kids are out of the house". Guess what? The kids are out of the house.

I have a job in IT that I like and work with people I like, but I am far from passionate about technology and question why I do it constantly. My mindset has gone from sell it all, quit the job, cash in the 401k and hike, to the cautious prudent approach of asking for a sabbatical and hoping they let me come back and hike. Or hiking and starting all over. Either way, I am hiking. Am I looking for a nudge? Yes. Common Sense talk? Maybe. Reasons not to? No!

I'd love to hear stories from those of you who made the decision to just do it and how your decision "changed" you. Regrets? No Regrets? It really changed your life?

Be kind

Starchild
12-12-2013, 12:39
I did it to change my life, I gave up everything, closed a company - that I knew I never wanted to go back to. I was determined that I would use everything I had to make this hike, but also I wanted to see if it was the right direction for me. I prayed and meditated on it and what came to me is to go to the AT itself and ask if I would be accepted. I knew I needed to change, I knew I needed to experience kindness in my life, things that should have been freely given to me in my childhood, but I still was waiting to receive.

As I went as asked out loud, I got my answer, and a vision that Angels travel the AT from interstellar space - what I call their Interstellar AT, and I am now and forever will be their child, I got my trail name - Starchild, from them. Along the AT I got what was missing in my life, people who cared about me without expecting return, but just out of the goodness of their heart for me and the path I have.

Afterwords I know I need to live for who I am, I need to follow my passions and find the place for me were work and play become the same, and trust the finances will be there. To live one day at a time, one step at a time.

And that's what I have been doing. Finances has been tight, but I just completed it in Sept of this year, and just starting a season of instructing ski school,(actually in a AT community where the AT runs over the mountain). I soon expect to be traveling the world on the good will that was intended for me finally getting to me. I have already been gifted a wonderful, what I would consider first class, trip to AZ for the week where the only thing I needed to pay for was parking at the airport and in flight wifi.

So now I am excited to live, excited to see what is next, as excited as I was on the trail, never knowing what wonders await me each day.

Good luck

notgettingyounger
12-12-2013, 12:47
Immediate apologies for posting this thread in the Class of 2014 forum. I'm sure it should have been in General. Rookies!

ChinMusic
12-12-2013, 12:55
IMO, going into it expecting some life-changing vision is a crapshoot. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won't.

I enjoyed my time on the trail. It was a great vacation. As far as I can tell, I have not changed. I am fine with that. I was actually worried about some change.

Duff
12-12-2013, 13:38
If, indeed, you are one of the lucky ones whose life is changed by the experience then the trail always calls. Your "new life" is spent in wishing/thinking/planning on getting back "out there" - "Springer Fever" is something tangible that affects you internally and profoundly. Your values become different; cell towers on mountain tops disturb you as an intrusion, power lines become scars on nature, you appreciate the quiet; you want to look for wildlife rather than down at your smartphone. You will no longer define yourself by your income and money simply becomes a tool to allow you to answer the call of the trail. I can only relate it to the steroetypical quest that one longs to "find themselves" - the trail allows that.

Siarl
12-12-2013, 13:41
Everyone hikes for different reasons. I've been hiking small hikes in the Appalachians since I was a kid growing up right outside the Blue Ridge Parkway. I'm doing my thru-hike simply because I love nature and I want to revisit and experience the Appalachians for more than just a day or two. It's more possible for me now to do it than any other time because the slow time or off-season is actually the summer months. So, I am going to try to see if my schedule will allow it and I will be returning home at the beginning of our high-season which is 1st of Sep. I've read some thr-hike journals and I've noticed that some folks do it because of the challenge and not necessarily because they like the hike. Some do it for a cause or some other outside reason. My experience on other hikes with other people, is that your conviction needs to be solid for whatever reason. I do hiking with my partner sometimes. He doesn't like to hike. He calls it, "walking for the hell of it." In order for me to get him to hike with me, I usually have to find a reason for him, such as the flowering season to photograph, or I've discovered an interesting geological formation, or a new trail for him to take photos of the scenery. Otherwise, he begins to grumble and resent that I brought him out into the wilderness to hike for the hell of it. I think the AT trail is a positive thing to experience and I enjoy my re-connection with nature.

Starchild
12-12-2013, 14:05
Vastly different responses here, just wanted to add based on other posts that technology use, such as smartphones and cell antenna were very much part of my hike and to the angels were my 'toys'. They were delighted that I used them for things of letting others know of how I am doing and check weather and order pizza delivered to the 501 shelter (well no I didn't but I could have). Each of us seem to have a different experience on the trail and what I see here it is very individual.

From what I am getting he it is a extension of HYOH, in that get out of the hike what you wish to - and don't ever let anyone else define your hike.

Slo-go'en
12-12-2013, 14:16
Mid 40's and the kids are already out of the house? You must have started early! But to the question at hand, will it change your life? Maybe, maybe not. Does it need changing? Some finish a thru or other long hike and want to nothing else but hike for the rest of thier lives. Others will never set foot on a trail again.


Personally, if I hadn't taken a summer off to go hiking in my mid 30's and then loose my job a year later, I probably would have had a very different life. I would never have ended up accumulating years of living in the woods or becoming self-employed as the thought of having a "real job" again was not a pleasent one. I might have even ended up getting married and having kids - I'm glad that never happened!

Berserker
12-12-2013, 14:28
Iím gonna be that guy that asks, have you ever been hiking before? If you have then disregard the question, but if not the first step would be to get out there.

First off I have to give the disclaimer that I havenít thru hiked the AT. I have however hiked almost half of it in sections, and thru hiked the JMT (yeah I know thatís a magnitude shorter than the AT).

What I have found over the years is that I daydreamed about thru hiking till I actually got out there a bunch of times and got my rear handed to me. Snow, rain, bugs, heat and just generally living in the woods is cool for a couple of weeks, and then for me it gets old. The longest Iíve spent out at one time so far was the 3 weeks I did the JMT, and I found that I had gotten my fill by the end of it and was ready to head home.

Iím not saying this would necessarily be your reaction, but thru hiking gets romanticized, and itís really just walking all day long and camping at nightÖnothing more and nothing less. Sure there are individuals that soak that kind of stuff up like a sponge and it feeds their spirit, but I gotta be honest and tell that those folks are few and far between. Most of the people I meet while hiking are the Joe Schmo types like myself that are out there to get away for some period of time, but understand that all the stuff we left behind is going to still be there when we get backÖthatís just the reality of it.

Assuming you have your finances in order and can swing it, Iíd say go for it if you really want it with the caveat that Iíd get out and do a few hikes first (if youíre not already a hiker) to see what you are getting into. As for work, if it were me Iíd be going for the leave of absence option if you can swing it, but be prepared to have to find another job. Will it be life changingÖI think thatís something youíll have to find out for yourself.

Astro
12-12-2013, 14:36
I agree about starting kids early (I started late and will be almost 60 when the last of 4 finishes high school), so good for you. :)
I would recommend going the LOA (Leave of Absence) route if you can. Then you have a job waiting for you when you get back. Even better if you end up like the ~80% who do not finish a thru hike due to injury or whatever (although I certainly hope you do make it). And if it DOES totally change your life, then after a few months back on your old job you will know it, and can always quit for real and make any other drastic changes you want.

But then again on the other hand like Cortez said you can "burn the ships" and there is no turning back.

notgettingyounger
12-12-2013, 14:44
Thank you for the replies thus far and just for a little clarity, I'm not suggesting I'm searching for a life changing experience, although, wouldn't we all be open to the possibilities? I am, however, extremely curious about the rationale that floats around in other peoples heads when it comes to taking on something like a section or thru-hike of the AT or any other long distance trail. Personally, I am either extraordinarily practical and think about things too much OR, I dive in head first and see how it ends up. There is rarely a middle ground. The fact that I'm even posting on a forum I am new to as of today might suggest I am actually maturing or just real scared. Ha!

Berserker, I am very comfortable hiking and being on a trail. I do agree, there is a major difference between being on a trail for four days versus four weeks or four months. The impractical, spontaneous side of me says, there is only one to find out.

T.S.Kobzol
12-12-2013, 14:48
If you could sell it all, cash the 401K and survive for the rest of your life then what are you waiting for?


just my humble opinion.


Your faithful servant Dobby


New to White Blaze and this is my first post. I'm a mid 40's day dreamer in the Great Plains who's been on the AT train of thought for years. Read enough books about thru-hikers and you inevitably read, "It will change your life". My excuse has always been, "I'll do it when the kids are out of the house". Guess what? The kids are out of the house.

I have a job in IT that I like and work with people I like, but I am far from passionate about technology and question why I do it constantly. My mindset has gone from sell it all, quit the job, cash in the 401k and hike, to the cautious prudent approach of asking for a sabbatical and hoping they let me come back and hike. Or hiking and starting all over. Either way, I am hiking. Am I looking for a nudge? Yes. Common Sense talk? Maybe. Reasons not to? No!

I'd love to hear stories from those of you who made the decision to just do it and how your decision "changed" you. Regrets? No Regrets? It really changed your life?

Be kind

Coffee
12-12-2013, 15:02
Not trail related but if at all possible someone in their mid 40s should resist cashing retirement accounts due to the heavy penalties and loss of tax benefits, not to mention a less secure retirement. I'm not judging anyone who does that, just hoping that people understand how big of a penalty they pay for doing so and go into it with open eyes. Try to wait until at least age 59 1/2 when the penalties no longer hit. I'm not as experienced as many here when it comes to long distance thru hiking (although I hope that changes over the next few years) but I do have expertise in financial matters.

I was bitten with the thru hiking bug after the JMT - I can't think of a better way to spend many months as opposed to mere weeks!

fertilizer
12-12-2013, 15:09
Perhaps it doesn't change you, it just reveals who you actually are by scraping away the baggage of our modern lives.

no-name
12-12-2013, 15:12
I am thinking about this right now, every day. Sell house and possessions, except for car and what will fit in it. Park it at a friends house. Quit job that pays the bills, but is not a career. Let the 401K ride. SOBO next year. After hike, move to FLA. to be close to Mom to help her (that's what I tell everyone anyway), I really just want to be a beach bum, get a job I like that pays the bills. There will be enough cash to hike and then settle in to a new place. My only concern is that I will not ever be a homeowner again, but a renter. I am already selling stuff. If I had to bet on it, I'd be betting that it happens next year.

scope
12-12-2013, 15:17
I've never thru'd, but I can't imagine a thru of the AT not changing your life dramatically. Just that it may or may not change what you want it to.

Oh, and Welcome!

Berserker
12-12-2013, 15:19
Berserker, I am very comfortable hiking and being on a trail. I do agree, there is a major difference between being on a trail for four days versus four weeks or four months. The impractical, spontaneous side of me says, there is only one to find out.
Cool. Well then as I said get all your personal stuff in order and do this thing. I wish you the best, and we may cross paths at some point.


Not trail related but if at all possible someone in their mid 40s should resist cashing retirement accounts due to the heavy penalties and loss of tax benefits, not to mention a less secure retirement.
I'm assuming that comment on cashing in the 401k early was tounge in cheek, but I agree in that anyone seriously considering doing that unless it's a dire emergency can't do math very well.

mak1277
12-12-2013, 15:21
Why a thru-hike? Is there something specific about it that you find appealing, or do you just want an adventure and a change? For me, if I took 4-6 months (or more) off from my job, I would want to have as many different adventures as possible, in as many different places. I'd hike almost constantly, but I'd cherry pick the most amazing places at the best times, rather than lock myself into a singular focus of completing a thru. That's just me, obviously, but it's a question worth asking.

Coffee
12-12-2013, 15:21
I'm assuming that comment on cashing in the 401k early was tounge in cheek, but I agree in that anyone seriously considering doing that unless it's a dire emergency can't do math very well.

It is actually quite common these days. In hard times sometimes people don't have a choice but it is a very painful thing to do - more so than most people realize. So when I see someone talk about it I feel compelled to say something even though in the past people have reacted defensively. It is not my intent to be critical.

slbirdnerd
12-12-2013, 15:43
I'm just sectioning at this point.. but really, first do it for the adventure. If you set out looking to change your life, and it doesn't, what a disappointment. But if you set out looking for adventure, the trail WILL deliver. And if you get some change, that's icing on the cake.

ChinMusic
12-12-2013, 16:17
I am, however, extremely curious about the rationale that floats around in other peoples heads when it comes to taking on something like a section or thru-hike of the AT or any other long distance trail.

I've already done a thru and I can't answer "why" I did it.

I had previously done week-long section hikes. I knew what that felt like and expected the first week of my thru to be like one of those trips. I had a buddy tell me that the first day of a thru is totally different than the first day of a section hike. For me, he was so right. It is daunting, and a totally different feeling to realize that this will be your new life for 6 months.

Astro
12-12-2013, 17:03
Not trail related but if at all possible someone in their mid 40s should resist cashing retirement accounts due to the heavy penalties and loss of tax benefits, not to mention a less secure retirement. I'm not judging anyone who does that, just hoping that people understand how big of a penalty they pay for doing so and go into it with open eyes. Try to wait until at least age 59 1/2 when the penalties no longer hit. I'm not as experienced as many here when it comes to long distance thru hiking (although I hope that changes over the next few years) but I do have expertise in financial matters.

I was bitten with the thru hiking bug after the JMT - I can't think of a better way to spend many months as opposed to mere weeks!

I am looking forward more to my 59.5 birthday more than any other day in my life, except my Wedding day 22 years ago.

fiddlehead
12-12-2013, 17:21
You wouldn't believe how many tell me that I have an amazing life and that I'm lucky.
I always tell them that it started with my hiking the Appalacian Trail.
It expands your horizons to no end!

Mags
12-12-2013, 17:36
I would not have moved to Colorado if it was not for me doing the Appalachian Trail.

MuddyWaters
12-12-2013, 18:55
I'm assuming that comment on cashing in the 401k early was tounge in cheek, but I agree in that anyone seriously considering doing that unless it's a dire emergency can't do math very well.

If you have any sizeable money, you can figure 10% penalty, + max tax bracket = about 45- 55% gone, and thats just federal. If you have state taxes deduct the max % there too on top.

But 20%-35% is earmarked for the government anyway in taxes , regardless, depending on income level.

The way to come out ahead, is to live on virtually no income when you retire, and pay little taxes.
But if you have a bunch of money, you never get to spend it.

Drybones
12-12-2013, 19:19
First, let me say congratulations on the kids, a major accomplishment. I don't know if it will change your life or not, but you're guaranteed memories.....and that's the only thing of value we have when we get old. Best wishes on making the decision that's right for you.

rocketsocks
12-12-2013, 20:05
I dunno, if my life need changing I think I would change it before I went on some random bridle trial lookin for change in all the wrong places...you gotta stand for something or you''ll fall for anything.

that said, maybe what you need isn't change...but just a long vacation.

have a great hike whatever you decide.:sun

Gonecampn
12-12-2013, 20:12
I've already done a thru and I can't answer "why" I did it.

I had previously done week-long section hikes. I knew what that felt like and expected the first week of my thru to be like one of those trips. I had a buddy tell me that the first day of a thru is totally different than the first day of a section hike. For me, he was so right. It is daunting, and a totally different feeling to realize that this will be your new life for 6 months.

Wow! This is really interesting! I've only completed a couple of section hikes and I've never really thought about it. I can see how it would probably be differenence between the two first days.


Sent from somewhere in the woods.

Dogwood
12-12-2013, 21:09
Sounds like you were pooh poohing on yourself for a bit when you said, "I have a job in IT that I like and work with people I like, but I am far from passionate about technology and question why I do it constantly." Let's not disregard the second part of that statement but equally let's not disregard that you said "YOU like your work and YOU like the people YOU work with." If I find myself pooh poohing on myself I find one of the solutions to be more grateful, finding ways to be more appreciative. Another solution to that for me is giving to others by volunteering/donating my resources like at a homeless shelter, local and statewide gardening/landscaping projects, introducing people, especially children to Nature and hiking, donating food and leftover landscaping supplies including plants, etc.

Sometimes, we look to find greater meaning for our lives by making and noticing what we label as "BIG life changes." I do that but more importantly and more often I'm conscious of coming to "BIG life changes" through a many smaller step process. In other words, we tend to define "BIG life changes" by having to notice immediate or very short term BIG changes. That's not always how changes occur. You don't get from Springer Mt to Mt Katahdin in one step. It's many steps. As simple as that is and even though many AT thru-hikers mentally ascent to knowing this their behavior while hiking tells me they aren't living this. And one who completes an AT thru-hike doesn't simply change as result of doing the thru-hike. He or she changes each and every second on the thru-hike. Our lives are changing every millisecond.

When I read language like this, "Either way...", "I am either extraordinarily practical and think about things too much OR, I dive in head first and see how it ends up. There is rarely a middle ground." it tells me you tend to think in terms of either/or, black and white. The real world is not binary - all zeros and ones. Think outside that limiting box when it comes to your life options including possibly doing a hike. You'll be more creative coming up with solutions that individually work for you. It will be YOU who nudges yourself and charts the course of your life.

Be always mindful how you define things AND realize different people define the same things in different ways. "The impractical, spontaneous side of me says...." You can be spontaneous and still be practical. You can still reach impractical conclusions after still having thught about things until the cow comes over the moon(analyze things to death). Perhaps, you might redefine what it means FOR YOU to hike? Thru-hike?

mrcoffeect
12-13-2013, 08:54
Perhaps it doesn't change you, it just reveals who you actually are by scraping away the baggage of our modern lives.

True wisdom.

Lady Grey
12-13-2013, 08:59
Did my hike this year fundamentally change me? No, I don't think so. I was fortunate to take a leave of absence from my job, so returned home to the same house, same job, and great family and friends in a location I love. I wasn't really looking at the hike to totally shake things up in my life. What the hike did for me, however, was gave me a sense of empowerment. I set a huge goal for myself and I followed through, all the way to Katahdin. The more miles I walked, the more I thought about the power of goal setting and all it means. I've had lots of people say to me that following along on my journey has led them to think about their own personal goals and how to achieve them, and for me that was a big piece of my hike. My big question now, almost 5 months after summiting Katahdin, is what's next?

CarlZ993
12-13-2013, 15:51
Don't commit financial suicide just to hike a hike. Plan for it. Budget for it. And hike it.

Hiking isn't romantic. It's hard work. Bad weather. New friends. An adventure of a lifetime... unless you do another thru-hike.

If you decide to hike the AT, I'd recommend a few points: 1) Keep your pack light; 2) Keep a steady pace & keep plugging; 3) Don't overuse zeros; and, 4) Embrace the fact that you will be hiking a lot in bad weather.

double d
12-13-2013, 17:22
It seems to me as a non-thru hiker that many people are "looking" for something they think the AT will give them on a long hike. Maybe its the time to think about their lives, their goals, sharing the trail with others who love the AT as much as they do, but I've always thought of doing it just for the experience of it all, but then again, I also think many (25% maybe?) thru hikers do it because they are also looking for a radical change in their life as well. I guess only one person can truly answer that question and that's the hiker.

Malto
12-13-2013, 22:53
New to White Blaze and this is my first post. I'm a mid 40's day dreamer in the Great Plains who's been on the AT train of thought for years. Read enough books about thru-hikers and you inevitably read, "It will change your life". My excuse has always been, "I'll do it when the kids are out of the house". Guess what? The kids are out of the house.

I have a job in IT that I like and work with people I like, but I am far from passionate about technology and question why I do it constantly. My mindset has gone from sell it all, quit the job, cash in the 401k and hike, to the cautious prudent approach of asking for a sabbatical and hoping they let me come back and hike. Or hiking and starting all over. Either way, I am hiking. Am I looking for a nudge? Yes. Common Sense talk? Maybe. Reasons not to? No!

I'd love to hear stories from those of you who made the decision to just do it and how your decision "changed" you. Regrets? No Regrets? It really changed your life?

Be kind

Took leave of absence, hiked and went back to work. If you can do the same then why blow up your life?