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sk8sn0surf
02-19-2014, 00:47
Hi all. For about 5 years now, I have been really into hiking, and have always thought it would be an awesome experience to hike the AT. I'm 27 years old and since college, I have been dissatisfied with my career as a computer programmer. Every day I long to be outdoors. I'm currently tied down with a job, a 2 year old car payment, and an apartment full of furniture with my lease ending in August. Every day I go to work and stare at my computer screen thinking to myself, there has to be something better than this. Recently I've been seriously thinking about quitting my job and selling everything and hiking the AT. My question to you guys is, am I crazy??

Its going to cost me $500 to break my lease, in which I will have to find a replacement tenant. I owe 17,500 left on my car, in which I can get about that by selling to a dealership. And I have an apartment full of 1 - 2 year old furniture which I spent around $2500 on. I'm contemplating selling everything and hiking the AT, then possibly moving across the country upon my return. I have about 40k in savings, so I can definitely afford to hike the trail, but I am looking for some reassurance that it is worth the big financial hit I will take by selling all of my stuff. I'm sure some people have had some similar experiences and can assure me that I am not crazy. Thanks!

saltysack
02-19-2014, 00:56
If I were in your shoes I would say go for it! I'm 40 married with 2 awesome children and a job I hate. If all that is holding you back is a job that doesn't interest you.. Go for it....in reality it's a personal call you have to make!!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

rocketsocks
02-19-2014, 01:02
27, not married, no mortgage, no kids and $40,000 grand in the bank.


Yo...you still here :D


sorry forgot, lousy job!

Hill Ape
02-19-2014, 01:10
absolutely, you're crazy. now go hike the trail

Sierra2015
02-19-2014, 01:11
Yes, you're crazy! Put your stuff into storage instead! Lol

Go hike!

HooKooDooKu
02-19-2014, 01:20
Seems like you're going to be wasting a lot of money selling all that stuff at a loss (especially the car to a dealer), and you don't have much time to plan (not that you MUST spend large amount of time planning for a thru hike).

From a financial stand point, it would make more sense to stick to your job for one more year, spend a little money as possible, and see if you can pay off all your debts by this time next year. Then you could put your property in storage (for what.... the amount of money is costs to break your lease perhaps?), do your hike, and come back with much more financial resources to start the next phase of your life.


Then again, the later you wait, the more likely you are to get tied to a job, or to a family, etc.


Then again... here's another idea. Since you've got 40K to work with:
1. Pay off the car.
2. Sell all the stuff you'd rather throw away rather than store.
3. Store the stuff worth keeping (like the car... perhaps only the car).
4. Go hike.


I guess the only thing that sounds crazy in your plan is selling a car to a dealer... you're going to take a bath on that deal.
2. Sell everything else not worth storyou'd otherwise just rather throw away than pay to put in storage (such as furniture).
2. Find a friend or some other place to store your car for the duration of the hike, make advanced payments on the car from your 40K

LIhikers
02-19-2014, 01:28
The rest of the world will never understand your desire to hike.
But just cause we understand doesn't mean you're not crazy.
Now get ready to hike.

4eyedbuzzard
02-19-2014, 02:21
Okay, somebody has to play the role of advocatus diaboli here. Nobody announcing on WB that they are quitting their job to go thru-hike gets off this easy. I'll be the bad guy.

Some questions:

How does quitting affect your future? Even if you are successful in thru-hiking, exactly what are you going to do when you are done? The real world isn't going to go away, and you'll have to go back to earning a living. If you think your current programming job sucks, consider the millions who haven't found jobs since the recession started. Consider how much you'd like asking, "Do you want fries with that?" Hyperbole, yes, but you get the point. A few employers might see your thru-hike as interesting thing. But more will worry that you are unstable and that you'll quit on them to hike the PCT next. There is contract work for programmers, but that isn't always the easiest field to break into cold.

What is the longest hike you've ever been on, both in miles and number of days?
Where have you hiked?
In what conditions have you hiked (nice and sunny, rain, snow, cold, heat, humidity)?
How many days in a row have you hiked in the cold and rain with wet clothes and wet socks and shoes?
How many times have you pulled on frozen or wet and cold boots on in the morning?
How much do you like eating hiker food day in day out for months?
Could you get some time off or a leave of absence and go on a four week section hike to see if long distance hiking is really what you want to do? Or get a leave of absence for a month in April and then just quit if you find you want to continue?

What is plan B? (and it can't be kill Mary Ellen and take her pop tarts). As in, you get to Damascus or Harpers Ferry or wherever and decide you've had enough? Or you get injured or ill? Or there's a family crisis? At least 75% of people who start do not finish.

The is the romantic notion of thru-hiking, and then there is the reality of thru-hiking. Trust me, they are not the same thing. Longing to be in the outdoors doesn't mean you'll love thru-hiking. Many years ago I tried thru-hiking. I grew bored with it and it stopped being fun. But I love section hiking. Too much of a good thing can spoil it for many of us.

Okay, now that I've done my job to discourage you, I hope that whatever you decide to do you have success in, and deep down I hope you make the hike. Have fun!

Sierra2015
02-19-2014, 02:35
Ugh. Buzz is right!

So instead you should hike with me in 2015! And get a chance to plan properly.

4eyedbuzzard
02-19-2014, 02:43
Ugh. Buzz is right!

So instead you should hike with me in 2015! And get a chance to plan properly.As usual, it's all about Sierra . . . ;) :D

Sierra2015
02-19-2014, 02:52
As usual, it's all about Sierra . . . ;) :D
Yeah... you've caught on quickly. Super guilty of myopia!

futureatwalker
02-19-2014, 04:04
I have been dissatisfied with my career as a computer programmer... I'm contemplating selling everything and hiking the AT, then possibly moving across the country upon my return.... I'm sure some people have had some similar experiences and can assure me that I am not crazy. Thanks!

Interesting situation. Of course you're not crazy - lots of us would like to do this, and some actually do.

One thing I'd try to do is to separate your thoughts a bit. When work is a drag, lots of things look like attractive alternatives. So, I'd be careful not to confuse frustration at work with wanting to hike the AT. They are two different things.

As others have cautioned, a practical strategy is to think not just about going to the AT, but what you will do after. Say you plan on being on the trail for 4-5 months. (And remember, many - perhaps most - make this same plan and don't finish the trail.) What next? How are you going to support yourself after the trail? Won't you need furniture and a car then? If you were travelling to Europe for the summer, would you sell all your stuff beforehand? I wouldn't.

One thought would be put your stuff in storage, and arrange to make payments on your car while you are away. That way, when you finish (or if you come off the trail early) you still have some infrastructure for living.

sk8sn0surf
02-19-2014, 09:29
Thanks for all of the replies. I know I will be taking a huge hit by getting rid of my car, but I really consider it to be a luxury item(2012 vw gti) and the payment of $350/mo is hardly cheap when you plan on having no job. My parents have extra beater cars they can lend me until I can find a cheaper car when I return. I don't think its worth paying off and not having the extra cash in hand as a cushion for my return.

As for furniture, storage costs are on average $60-100/mo where I live, so I don't think it will make too much sense to store them. I still may move out west upon my return, so that money would be all wasted. Keeping my belongings in a friends garage would be ideal.

I have backpacked before and have done a few overnighters and am very comfortable in tent and on the trail, although I have never hiked in ****ty conditions besides heat.



What is the longest hike you've ever been on, both in miles and number of days?

Over nighters, 10 - 15 miles


Where have you hiked?

NJ mostly, Utah, Half Dome,


In what conditions have you hiked (nice and sunny, rain, snow, cold, heat, humidity)?

Heat and humidity, never in the rain or snow, but I have the gear.


How many days in a row have you hiked in the cold and rain with wet clothes and wet socks and shoes?

None


How many times have you pulled on frozen or wet and cold boots on in the morning?

Never


How much do you like eating hiker food day in day out for months?

Theres some food I like others I absolutely hate(eggs)


Could you get some time off or a leave of absence and go on a four week section hike to see if long distance hiking is really what you want to do? Or get a leave of absence for a month in April and then just quit if you find you want to continue?

A leave of absence would really be ideal and something I plan on talking to my employer about. A 6 month leave would be perfect and allow me to fall back on to my job at any point along the way, but ultimately its up for my employer to decide.


The is the romantic notion of thru-hiking, and then there is the reality of thru-hiking. Trust me, they are not the same thing. Longing to be in the outdoors doesn't mean you'll love thru-hiking. Many years ago I tried thru-hiking. I grew bored with it and it stopped being fun. But I love section hiking. Too much of a good thing can spoil it for many of us.

I realize that there is this a certain romance in having a dream and wanting to pursue it(ie hiking the AT), and I realize that I may get on the trail and wonder why the hell I quit my job and sold my things, but wouldn't I be doing myself an injustice by not trying to pursue my dream and finding out? And yes, I can definitely plan better for this, but a may be more tied down in the future, and I cannot see myself in my job for another year with this hanging over me.

Ideally I think the best case scenario is to... negotiate a 6-7 month leave of absense(I need to take a month long break from the trail in June for a wedding), keep things in a friends garage, make payments on car, return to work upon return. Take another year to think about moving out west.

I want you guys to answer me this... besides the logistical reasons as to why I should/shouldn't hike the trail, what are some of the personal reasons you guys chose to hike and what are some of the experiences you got from it that you didn't expect? In other words, is it worth it?

Meriadoc
02-19-2014, 09:47
I want you guys to answer me this... besides the logistical reasons as to why I should/shouldn't hike the trail, what are some of the personal reasons you guys chose to hike and what are some of the experiences you got from it that you didn't expect? In other words, is it worth it?

I was in your shoes in 2012 when I started my hike. I had a little less in the bank, $25,000 I think, from working as a Process Engineer. But health insurance and student loans ate up a lot of that while I was hiking. I ended up drawing my finances down all the way by the time I started working in education in August 2013 (career change). Yes, it was completely worth it. The amount of personal growth, stability, maturity, was the best investment I ever made.

martinb
02-19-2014, 09:50
YOLO. Go for it!

Second Hand
02-19-2014, 12:24
Real life catches up with you fast and your opportunity to take chances like this will go away (depending on the life you choose I suppose).

I'm 31 w/ a beautiful wife a 16 month old son and a mortgage. I wouldn't change any of that (maybe the mortgage), but the reality of my life is, a 6 month hike isn't in the cards for years and years and years.

I have 0 regrets, I took full advantage of life and have had a ton of fun. I'm just saying you have to take chances while you can. I would go for it.

snail2010
02-19-2014, 12:34
We are all crazy! If I had 40k in the bank I'd have no debt lol! Maybe think about downsizing your life a bit before giving it all up for a hike. Can you enjoy a minimalist life style? Like some have said, you might want to store things rather than sell them if youre not sure. It's easy for those of us who haven't got a lot to say hell yes go hike lol! May you make the best decision for you!

slbirdnerd
02-19-2014, 12:37
If your heart is truly in it and you're not just running away from a sucky job, I say go for it. Your personal and financial situation is ripe for it. But DO plan and prepare as much as you can and make smart decisions to get ready--you're pretty short on time. Plan and prepare smart in what little time you have, and that will give you a better chance at success.

q-tip
02-19-2014, 12:56
My suggestion, create a vision for your life after the trail before you begin, this way you will have direction and purpose when you return. The 6 months could turn into a long time lost or returning to your old life. I created a vision of being a writer before I went for my 1, 000 mile hike. I finised and am now working on the book full time, the process worked for me.

A note about furniture, I wanted to sell my stuff to hike the CT. $15, 000 worth of stuff, could not get the $2, 000 for it (incliding some Ethan Allen pieces). Give away what you dont want, store the rest. It will save you thousands.

Just some thoughts....

Coffee
02-19-2014, 13:07
I passed on a lot of opportunities during my 20s and, while the reasons all seemed important at the time, today (at age 40) I would be hard pressed to even remember half of the reasons I had for not traveling or doing other things that I wanted to do. As long as responsibilities to others are being met, I see no reason to defer life goals at a young age. Many people end up with greater commitments in their 30s and then a six month vacation is only a possibility in retirement for those who remain healthy enough to do so which is never a guarantee.

Berserker
02-19-2014, 13:20
If I had the wisdom (i.e. life experience) I have now when I was your age Id go for it with a couple of caveats. One would be that I could negotiate a leave of absence. If I couldnt swing that then I would wait till next year, put everything in order (i.e. pay things off, sell stuff, etc.) and save as much money as I could. Id do some hiking in the mean time to get prepared, and see if 5 6 months on the trail is something Id actually enjoy. Id also concentrate on the fact that I was preparing to thru hike to keep me motivated through the emotional valleys over the next year.

4eyedbuzzard
02-19-2014, 14:08
I have backpacked before and have done a few overnighters and am very comfortable in tent and on the trail, although I have never hiked in ****ty conditions besides heat.This and the fact that you have only done overnighters is a bit troublesome in relating it to enjoying long distance hiking. I love weekend hikes in good weather - hell, I think everybody does. But I would strongly suggest if you can to take at least one week plus long hike before ditching everything and deciding to thru-hike.

A leave of absence would really be ideal and something I plan on talking to my employer about. A 6 month leave would be perfect and allow me to fall back on to my job at any point along the way, but ultimately its up for my employer to decide.Obviously, the best option.

I realize that there is this a certain romance in having a dream and wanting to pursue it(ie hiking the AT), and I realize that I may get on the trail and wonder why the hell I quit my job and sold my things, but wouldn't I be doing myself an injustice by not trying to pursue my dream and finding out?Yes. Not saying not to pursue it, and I think you get that. I'm just being the pragmatic realist. Kind of a party pooper, I know.

I want you guys to answer me this... besides the logistical reasons as to why I should/shouldn't hike the trail, what are some of the personal reasons you guys chose to hike and what are some of the experiences you got from it that you didn't expect? In other words, is it worth it?I was 19 when I attempted to thru-hike in 1976. I had hiked and backpacked pretty extensively given my age - including week long + trips a couple times a year with my uncle, helping lead his BSA troop. I had also started alpine climbing and had climbed a few minor mountains. I really liked hiking and climbing. I had decent gear for the day, pretty much zero responsibilities in life, and had saved up over $2000 (back then plenty for a thru-hike). I had dreamt of thru-hiking ever since reading Ed Garvey's book, Appalachian Hiker a few years prior. So in April, 1976, I set out from Springer. I made it to Damascus (roughly 500 miles in six weeks). Could I have gone further? Sure. Physically I was fine but for a few small blisters. But my heart was no longer in it. It had stopped being fun. I didn't like being wet and cold for days on end. Seriously, it was cold, rainy, windy, damp, and there was absolutely nowhere to warm up until providence smiled upon you and gave you a sunny day. The trail was also very lonely at times, an issue you won't have to face in this era. There were several days I saw absolutely no one else on the trail or at shelters.

I learned that while I like to get away from civilization, I also enjoy returning to it, and many of its trappings. I like hot showers. I like a warm house on a cold, damp day. I like good hot meals. I like coming in out of the cold. I'm a certified wuss. But I certainly don't see the hike as a waste or failure. I learned a lot about the difference between section hikes and long distance hiking, and how hard it is to be on the trail for that long a period of time. I also learned a lot about myself - attention span, dreaming vs reality, etc. As a goal, thru-hiking just wasn't important enough to me, or more that the importance had waned, to put the work of just grinding out miles needed into it, especially when it wasn't fun due to cold, rain, etc. FWIW, I don't particularly like hiking in 100 deg heat and high humidity either. Yep, defintely a certified wuss.

The dream of thru-hiking never goes away. I still think about doing it again. That is on hold until retirement in a few years, and a planned end to end of the Long Trail in VT in 2015 with my daughter will be just one step in seeing if I really want to commit to it. I'm very conflicted about even attempting it again.

Happy44
02-19-2014, 15:57
Okay, somebody has to play the role of advocatus diaboli here. Nobody announcing on WB that they are quitting their job to go thru-hike gets off this easy. I'll be the bad guy.

Some questions:

How does quitting affect your future? Even if you are successful in thru-hiking, exactly what are you going to do when you are done? The real world isn't going to go away, and you'll have to go back to earning a living. If you think your current programming job sucks, consider the millions who haven't found jobs since the recession started. Consider how much you'd like asking, "Do you want fries with that?" Hyperbole, yes, but you get the point. A few employers might see your thru-hike as interesting thing. But more will worry that you are unstable and that you'll quit on them to hike the PCT next. There is contract work for programmers, but that isn't always the easiest field to break into cold.

What is the longest hike you've ever been on, both in miles and number of days?
Where have you hiked?
In what conditions have you hiked (nice and sunny, rain, snow, cold, heat, humidity)?
How many days in a row have you hiked in the cold and rain with wet clothes and wet socks and shoes?
How many times have you pulled on frozen or wet and cold boots on in the morning?
How much do you like eating hiker food day in day out for months?
Could you get some time off or a leave of absence and go on a four week section hike to see if long distance hiking is really what you want to do? Or get a leave of absence for a month in April and then just quit if you find you want to continue?

What is plan B? (and it can't be kill Mary Ellen and take her pop tarts). As in, you get to Damascus or Harpers Ferry or wherever and decide you've had enough? Or you get injured or ill? Or there's a family crisis? At least 75% of people who start do not finish.

The is the romantic notion of thru-hiking, and then there is the reality of thru-hiking. Trust me, they are not the same thing. Longing to be in the outdoors doesn't mean you'll love thru-hiking. Many years ago I tried thru-hiking. I grew bored with it and it stopped being fun. But I love section hiking. Too much of a good thing can spoil it for many of us.

Okay, now that I've done my job to discourage you, I hope that whatever you decide to do you have success in, and deep down I hope you make the hike. Have fun!


to me the romantic notion of thru-hiking is worse then thru hiking, hiking every day is so much better then siting on a computer reading people lame post on why not to do something!

Prime Time
02-19-2014, 18:11
This might be the right time for you, it might not. Only you can answer that. Just remember that deciding now is not the best time to thru hike is not the same as giving up on your dream. I wanted to thru hike from when I was 16 and finally did so last year at 60 a few years after I retired. To me that made it all the sweeter and more monumental. While I know that not all of us will be physically able to thru hike later in life, I do know that my desire to do so made me more conscientious about my fitness level throughout my life. Also, I don't have any stats but it was my experience that my fellow "old duffer" thru hikers had a much higher percentage of completion than the 20 somethings who dropped like flies. Maybe knowing you may not have another shot or knowing that when you finish, you're life is more or less in order helps. Anyway, good luck whatever you decide!

Julio
02-19-2014, 19:53
When I was 18 I was drafted into the army. When I returned in 73 I thought I had to get all serious about settling down. I tried for 2 years. Then I asked myself why I was depriving myself of something I really wanted. So I took off and traveled and lived life for 10 years. That's not to say I was a bum, I still worked and supported myself but I was never bound to one place. It is a wonderful life. At 32 I met and married a wonderful lady. I settled down and raised two children. Now, 28 yeas later, children raised and on their own work sorta done and I'm on the trail again. it can be done especially at your age.I say GO FOR IT!

4eyedbuzzard
02-20-2014, 00:55
to me the romantic notion of thru-hiking is worse then thru hiking, hiking every day is so much better then siting on a computer reading people lame post on why not to do something!

Obviously the reason for my post was lost on you.

Dogwood
02-20-2014, 02:53
27, not married, no mortgage, no kids and $40,000 grand in the bank.


Yo...you still here :D


sorry forgot, lousy job!

You also forgot he's in Trenton. That might send me to the trail all by itself.

4eyedbuzzard
02-20-2014, 02:57
You also forgot he's in Trenton. That might send me to the trail all by itself.He could always just hike through Camdem late on a Saturday night for some excitement.

sk8sn0surf
02-20-2014, 09:34
Thanks for all the insight, concerns, and motivation. I'll be talking to my employer next week to see if we can work something out. I'll let you know how it goes.


You also forgot he's in Trenton. That might send me to the trail all by itself.
And no...I dont live in Trenton, but just outside in the suburbs. Its actually quite nice here, just not as close to the mountains as I would like.

aficion
02-20-2014, 10:16
My advice, take it or leave it, is stick with plan A. Ditch it all, go hike, and have an open canvas before you, to apply your certainly somewhat changed self to, after your hike. This applies only if you want to do this enough to actually get it done. Only you can determine that.

Shonryu
02-20-2014, 10:29
I'm in almost the same exact financial and job situation as the OP except that I have a mortgage and a 12 year old daughter.

I've done a lot of long distance backpacking and in every condition you can think of. My problem is that when its time to get off of the trail I'm never really ready to leave except to indulge long enough in a town during a resupply to fill my hiker appetite.

I'm at a crossroads in my life and I just turned 35. I feel like I've been putting my dream off to long and before I know it the years will have passed me by.

My problem is that jobs are scarce around where I live and I have a very good paying one. There is no option to take a leave and I know it will be difficult finding one when I get back.

Not to mention I have a 12 year old daughter who I share joint legal and physical custody with her mom and I could jeopardize our custody arrangements if I was gone for 6 months. My x-wife knows I'm a good father and isnt unreasonable but there is always the possibility that she could try to file for full custody while I'm gone.

I know that life on the trail is one I'm accustomed to and i'm confidant that I could finish. Its just coming home to the aftermath that has me worried. YOLO and I'm realizing that if we spend our whole life working but have laid our dreams to the side what was the point in living.

To the OP I would say go out and live your life. Your in a position where you can afford to be a little irresponsible and still have plenty of time to get your life back on track. There are those people who live and there are those people who truly live. There is so much more to life then the nice car and house. I know I have them but I feel like they are all chains now holding me back now.

Another option to consider is maybe plan to do the JMT this year. You could do it in 2-3 weeks depending on how far your willing to push yourself. Im sure you could get enough time off of work to go. This will give you and idea of what its like doing a long distance hike and an idea of what life on the trail is like. If you realize its for you plan your thru hike for next year.

TurboPants
02-20-2014, 23:58
I am in the exact same shoes, well maybe all except having $40k in savings. I just paid off all my debts except car which will be handled by next January. But I'm 33 and happily single, no mortgage, and also stuck in a poor paying tech support job. Being chained to a desk 9+ hours a day is mental anguish, and I like my job heh. So I understand completely where you're coming from.

After reading a lot of threads like this, I decided to save up so I have more of a cushion in case my job isn't waiting for me. I pushed off my hike till next year to prepare more physically, mentally and financially. If I already had $40k in the bank it wouldn't even be up for debate, I'd be packing my bags and tent shopping! Take from someone who is a few years older but stuck in that same daily grind; DO IT WHILE YOU CAN. We don't know when our time will be up here. It's inspiring to see the folks over 50 who thru hike, but we may not get that far! I just watched a friend your age die of cancer, along with my grandmother and several more friends. My grandmother's last words to me were "I hope you get everything you want out of life". Every day is a gift and I don't intend on wasting all mine punching keys. I'm cranky that I have to wait till 2015 but it's the right choice for me. Your choice is simpler. You really don't have any solid reasons NOT to thru hike, but you have tons of reason TO hike. You will grow as a person no doubt! If you already intend on moving out west you have all the motivation you need to clear your head for a summer. You clearly are looking for justification for your dream, so consider this your wake up call. GO PACK YOUR BAGS FOR GEORGIA SON!

rocketsocks
02-21-2014, 02:06
You also forgot he's in Trenton. That might send me to the trail all by itself.
I hear ya, did tons of work in Trenton, quit a job once there and went fishin in the River for stippas, don't recall if i caught anything that day...but it was a **** job....that much I remember.:D

...guy wanted me to clean out a brush pile that was loaded with yellow jacket.....yeah right on rich...be right back bud....later.