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JLorenzo77
09-14-2016, 08:51
I'm 39 years old. Maybe it's because 40 is right around the corner. Halftime. Perhaps it has to do with my 45 year old neighbor suddenly passing away this past spring. Recently I was presented with a job opportunity. It's strengths (good leadership and structure) are my current employers weaknesses. But it's weaknesses (12 business trips a year) are my current employers strength (no travel requirement). With a family, I didn't want to be away that much. But in the back of my mind I kept thinking to myself, who cares about either position? Yes, I've reached a level of financial freedom which ironically imprisons me into maintaining my current lifestyle. I work to live, my wife lives to work and therefore she doesn't understand my decision making process. Instead of analyzing the pros and cons of each position, I was thinking in the back of my mind which position would allow me the freedom to squeeze in day hikes. Seriously? Seriously!

Which, in a meandering and anti-streamlined way, leads me to the AT. Recently I've read two books by guys roughly my age who said, 'To hell with normalcy! I'm hiking the AT.' I admire their bravery and desire. I don't think I could do it. But in a way I feel like I've missed out on the golden opportunity to do it when I was young, strong and naive to the ways life can beat you down. On the other hand, I could wait until such a time when little people don't rely on me; when I am weaker in body but with more wisdom and introspection. But then again, waiting for something that I might never get the chance to do?

'Awol on the Appalachian Trail,' and 'On the beaten path,' are good reads. But if you are around 40 years old and sort of like hiking and aren't really career minded, I don't think you should read them. But who knows. If you do, maybe we'll see each other at Springer in March.

Just Bill
09-14-2016, 09:24
There are ways to make it happen, several here that have done it.
If you are truly financially responsible consider early (or at least partial) retirement.
Many here are fans of Mr. Money Moustache or other similar sites. You can adapt the hiking lifestyle without chucking it all, which gives you something to work for.

Come up with a plan, get those around you on board, and choose a position that furthers your goals.
Maybe the travel job would allow you to take an extra day or two with each trip to do a hike in a new area, and give you something to look forward to each month or so. Being already "out of town" may make it easier for you to hit the trail when outside the normal daily routine or family responsibilities.

Usually those who say screw it I'm hiking are at some sort of crossroads or reach a traumatic event that allows/frees/triggers them to hike.
Nothing wrong with a case of "F"-its I suppose, but the bad news is that when you come back; life will likely be worse for you.

The key to an escape plan is the plan part, not the escape.

This dude is about your age- but it's not a good book or very helpful really.
https://www.amazon.com/Lying-Trail-William-Townsend-ebook/dp/B00R3B160C/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Guyler
09-14-2016, 09:54
Many here are fans of Mr. Money Moustache or other similar sites. You can adapt the hiking lifestyle without chucking it all, which gives you something to work for.


Exactly. Some of the others are

http://www.theminimalists.com/
http://zenhabits.net/
http://www.becomingminimalist.com/new-minimalist-blogs/

The things that make you happiest probably not things. These sites and Mr. Money Mustache don't advocate for anything that radical in my opinion, mostly it's about making sure you're getting the most value with your time.

IMO don't stress about getting the AT done next year, read some of these blogs and to Just Bill's point 'make a plan' to lead the life you want forever - not just on the AT. You're already on the right track!

Uriah
09-14-2016, 09:54
Lean in closely and listen to your heart.

Heliotrope
09-14-2016, 10:24
I'm 39 years old. Maybe it's because 40 is right around the corner. Halftime. Perhaps it has to do with my 45 year old neighbor suddenly passing away this past spring. Recently I was presented with a job opportunity. It's strengths (good leadership and structure) are my current employers weaknesses. But it's weaknesses (12 business trips a year) are my current employers strength (no travel requirement). With a family, I didn't want to be away that much. But in the back of my mind I kept thinking to myself, who cares about either position? Yes, I've reached a level of financial freedom which ironically imprisons me into maintaining my current lifestyle. I work to live, my wife lives to work and therefore she doesn't understand my decision making process. Instead of analyzing the pros and cons of each position, I was thinking in the back of my mind which position would allow me the freedom to squeeze in day hikes. Seriously? Seriously!

Which, in a meandering and anti-streamlined way, leads me to the AT. Recently I've read two books by guys roughly my age who said, 'To hell with normalcy! I'm hiking the AT.' I admire their bravery and desire. I don't think I could do it. But in a way I feel like I've missed out on the golden opportunity to do it when I was young, strong and naive to the ways life can beat you down. On the other hand, I could wait until such a time when little people don't rely on me; when I am weaker in body but with more wisdom and introspection. But then again, waiting for something that I might never get the chance to do?

'Awol on the Appalachian Trail,' and 'On the beaten path,' are good reads. But if you are around 40 years old and sort of like hiking and aren't really career minded, I don't think you should read them. But who knows. If you do, maybe we'll see each other at Springer in March.

I resonate with your conundrum. Just Bill has made some very good points. I'm wondering if this might be an opportunity for a new white blaze forum. Seems there are a lot of us middle-age guys that want both financial freedom and the ability to take extended backpacking trips. I am not a through hiker yet. But there seems to be want to be through hikers that have an all or nothing mindset. Perhaos having a five-year plan that includes financial changes/improvements as well as building up your distance hiking ability by taking longer and longer trips that do not compromise your marriage, Family, and financial security. Would love to toss around ideas. P.m. me if interested.


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Hikingjim
09-14-2016, 10:50
When i make career and life choices I have always actively considered how flexible they are to allow me to do other things (I am 35)
I have a daughter, work obligations, etc, so I don't have an interest in doing a 5 month hike. But I do take at least 8 weeks vacation.... with is pretty well all hiking, paddling, family trips, etc.

Might take a few months off at some point if it makes sense (or when my daughter is old enough to hike long-distance), but I don't mind the balance for now, as long as I am free to get away for a few weeks when I feel the need

So maybe you need to be doing something that is more balanced, but don't necessarily NEED to do a thru-hike. Hit the LT/JMT or something!

rafe
09-14-2016, 11:13
I was 37 when I attempted a thru hike in 1990. My career was satisfactory but not terribly satisfying. The trigger was a divorce. Fortunately, we had no kids, no serious debt or other obligations that would have precluded a thru hike. There was money in the bank to make it happen.

I didn't finish the trail that year, but it was an experience I'll never forget. My only regret was quitting. The good news: I met the a fine woman in the fall of that year. We married a year later and we'll be celebrating our 25th anniversary in a few weeks. She gave me the freedom, courage, and emotional wherewithal to complete the trail, over the next umpteen years and sections.

Many of the people that you meet on the trail doing long distance hikes are going through major life changes of one sort or another.

greenpete
09-14-2016, 12:00
You and I are similar. After college I considered an AT thru-hike, but I didn't have the drive or courage. I'm now 58 and did my first AT section hike three years ago after reading a book ("Walking with the Wild Wind" by Walkin' Jim Stoltz, which is about a Montana hike).

You didn't say if you've already done some section hikes. For me, section hikes are a great compromise. I still need to work (unfortunately), and my wife needs me around, but a week-long hike once a year seems to satisfy my craving. A thru-hike is a tremendous undertaking, and I applaud you if you succeed in doing one. But I think too much attention is given to doing all 2,500 miles. It's almost a fashion statement these days. I believe that variety is the spice of life, and I've got a short list of section treks to do before I die, many of which will be out West.

Just some food for thought... cheers!

Just Bill
09-14-2016, 12:25
I resonate with your conundrum. Just Bill has made some very good points. I'm wondering if this might be an opportunity for a new white blaze forum. Seems there are a lot of us middle-age guys that want both financial freedom and the ability to take extended backpacking trips. I am not a through hiker yet. But there seems to be want to be through hikers that have an all or nothing mindset. Perhaos having a five-year plan that includes financial changes/improvements as well as building up your distance hiking ability by taking longer and longer trips that do not compromise your marriage, Family, and financial security. Would love to toss around ideas. P.m. me if interested.


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Specifically- I can think of Garlic08, Mags, and Malto as folks who have done or are actively working on it.
Garlic is "living the dream" and in his 50's.
Mags is working on it, roughly our age, but doing a fantastic job finding balance.
Malto is showing us what an ass kicking 50 year old with some motivation can do on trail.
Dogwood has a pretty successful work life balance.
There are many others here as well.

There are many folks about our age;
Seems they fall generally into folks who did do it at some point in some fashion, then life happened and the hankering for the trail has returned.
Or folks who want to get into for the first time but life is simply in the way.

Hiking Jim makes an excellent point that echo's some of Mags general attitude:
You don't need to hike for 6 months, nor hike 2000 miles to "thru".
It may not be in your best interest either- for many reasons.
There are lots of fine trails of short to moderate distance that can give you that "end to end" feeling.
There is great adventure and satisfaction to be had in wilderness or simply heading out with no specific trail.

And I think that "Clueless Weekender" Another Kevin has a very good attitude in general regarding simply embracing what you have the time and ability to do and making the most of it. No shame in simply getting out even though this forum is generally focused on "the big hike" I think most of us need to realize that may be a once in a lifetime, if not never experience not available to all of us.

It's easy to get self-defeating when picturing the big hike we can't take and over look the smaller ones we can as Heliotrope eluded to.

The tough part- we are all in different financial, professional, educational, and responsibility/obligation places so other than some support for each other; there is no magic bullet.
Even Mr. Money Moustache is a bit suspect to an extent... the principal is there, but most of us will not be landing a 100k+ a year job prior to kids and aggressively saving.
Him living on 30k a year and socking away 70k is a bit different from living on 30k and making 30-60k a year. Him starting in his 20's does you little good when you are 40 either, lol.

The hardest thing I find is doing a realistic assessment of what makes sense for you. Which makes knocking around ideas generally supportive, but not always productive.
I believe there were a few threads in the donating members forum, but no stab at a sub-forum. It's a tough thing to discuss specifically; though there are many of us generally interested.

The one common thing I find some good solid hope in...
Karl Meltzer is potentially about to break a speed record on the AT... at 48. There are dozens of hikers here at 50+ doing a lot of hiking. Folks triple crowning in retirement. 55-75 leaves a good 20 years to hike.
Unlike many sports, our best days are far from behind us and even if true financial freedom is further away than we'd like; the trail is waiting and there is little in the way of enjoying it.

Staying in some kind of shape at this point in our lives, also feeds into the commonality that these folks share... healthy people don't spend their money on healthcare. Garlic often makes the point that his "hobby" is also his health insurance plan.

A willing spouse is a key component as well, sometimes a difficult proposition for many of us I find.

Otherwise; being happy with what time you can get is a challenge for those of us who have had the opportunity to get out before. As is sucking it up and knowing when you will be gone for awhile and doing your best to manage. Much like having your eye on an End to End can get you through a bad week- coming up with some kind of plan- even a vague one- can make the daily challenges more bearable.

Traillium
09-14-2016, 13:19
The hardest thing I find is doing a realistic assessment of what makes sense for you. Which makes knocking around ideas generally supportive, but not always productive.
I believe there were a few threads in the donating members forum, but no stab at a sub-forum. It's a tough thing to discuss specifically; though there are many of us generally interested.

The one common thing I find some good solid hope in...

snip snip

Staying in some kind of shape at this point in our lives, also feeds into the commonality that these folks share... healthy people don't spend their money on healthcare. Garlic often makes the point that his "hobby" is also his health insurance plan.

A willing spouse is a key component as well, sometimes a difficult proposition for many of us I find.

Otherwise; being happy with what time you can get is a challenge for those of us who have had the opportunity to get out before. As is sucking it up and knowing when you will be gone for awhile and doing your best to manage. Much like having your eye on an End to End can get you through a bad week- coming up with some kind of plan- even a vague one- can make the daily challenges more bearable.

So well said, Just Bill! Should be required understanding for all us 'ohl facts', says this 65-year-young hiker.


Bruce Traillium, brucetraillium.wordpress.com

rafe
09-14-2016, 13:32
Staying in some kind of shape at this point in our lives, also feeds into the commonality that these folks share...

Who could argue otherwise? Staying in shape is never a bad thing.


healthy people don't spend their money on healthcare. Garlic often makes the point that his "hobby" is also his health insurance plan.

Bull. Living in the USA without health insurance is insane, especially for those of us getting on in years. I spend just shy of $500 a month. Fortunately my wife is on Medicare, so it's just me.

JLorenzo77
09-14-2016, 13:54
Thanks everyone, for all the good suggestions. Ironically I am a man who has only done day hikes, albeit some pretty good ones. I have my first overnight planned next month. 20 miles over two days in and around McAfee Knob.

My 8 year old son told me the other day, 'Don't worry dad. When I am out of college, I'll hike the whole trail with you.' The tricky thing is finding that balance as Just Bill stated. I had visions of hiking the trail when I was in my early 20's. I put it away for a long time, essentially forgetting it. I settled down and did the regular stuff, job, marriage, kids. It's all fine but the further down the road I go, the more I find myself having to rely on the things I enjoy doing, not the things I have to do. When I say that, I mean the job. The family is great, for the most part.

Just Bill
09-14-2016, 13:58
Who could argue otherwise? Staying in shape is never a bad thing.



Bull. Living in the USA without health insurance is insane, especially for those of us getting on in years. I spend just shy of $500 a month. Fortunately my wife is on Medicare, so it's just me.

Nobody advocates going without health insurance- stuff happens.

However, establishing an HSA, getting a "catastrophic" coverage plan, and simply being in generally active overall is a solid plan to combat realistic costs.

Much like SUL hiking- it's not about tossing stuff we all clearly acknowledge we need- it's about reducing the literal weight on your shoulders effectively and intelligently.

What Garlic alludes to (or the words I'm putting in his mouth perhaps) is that if you are generally healthy, your average annual costs are fairly low. So you can afford to build an HSA up for an emergency as well as take bare minimum coverage knowing you aren't as likely to need maintenance type care as often that may lead you to believe that your money is better spent on keeping your deductible low.

Just Bill
09-14-2016, 14:06
Thanks everyone, for all the good suggestions. Ironically I am a man who has only done day hikes, albeit some pretty good ones. I have my first overnight planned next month. 20 miles over two days in and around McAfee Knob.

My 8 year old son told me the other day, 'Don't worry dad. When I am out of college, I'll hike the whole trail with you.' The tricky thing is finding that balance as Just Bill stated. I had visions of hiking the trail when I was in my early 20's. I put it away for a long time, essentially forgetting it. I settled down and did the regular stuff, job, marriage, kids. It's all fine but the further down the road I go, the more I find myself having to rely on the things I enjoy doing, not the things I have to do. When I say that, I mean the job. The family is great, for the most part.

My Dad was no camper... but he took on being our Scout Master and our troop made it a goal to get out once a month.
We learned together, which made for a great relationship between us, but for him... allowed him to get out within his limits and abilities on a consistent basis. Even through divorce this remained until I graduated High School and though he never did go on to take trips much past 7-10 days (still the Pinnacle of travel for 99% of the outdoors folks out there BTW) I did end up doing them.

Point being... More'n one way to skin a cat. Time with your family that is acceptable to the social circle around you, a long term goal, relationship with your kids, and a safe way to build up the knowledge and skills to enter the woods on bigger trips.

rafe
09-14-2016, 14:39
Bill, your initial comment was "healthy people don't spend their money on healthcare". You effectively argued the opposite after I called BS. Whether it be an HSA + catastrophic coverage plan or some other scheme, health care will cost you. Easy enough to imagine otherwise if you're young and healthy.

GoLight
09-14-2016, 15:21
When i make career and life choices I have always actively considered how flexible they are to allow me to do other things (I am 35)
I have a daughter, work obligations, etc, so I don't have an interest in doing a 5 month hike. But I do take at least 8 weeks vacation.... with is pretty well all hiking, paddling, family trips, etc.

Might take a few months off at some point if it makes sense (or when my daughter is old enough to hike long-distance), but I don't mind the balance for now, as long as I am free to get away for a few weeks when I feel the need

So maybe you need to be doing something that is more balanced, but don't necessarily NEED to do a thru-hike. Hit the LT/JMT or something!

I found this video of a girl who started when she was 9 and took 9 years to walk the whole trail. Very nicely presented, worth considering for other fathers and mothers who have a yen to walk the trail but cannot for various reasons take the 5 or 6 months in one go. Video is by Elizabeth King, entitled Growing Up On The Appalachian trail

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RrOt-R2Wgo

Just Bill
09-14-2016, 15:35
I'll assume poor choice of words on my part- but stand by the basic premise.
Bit like the three camps on knives; "I don't need one" "I just carry a SAK classic" "I carry nothing less than a full tang blade capable of constructing a log cabin just in case."

I think we both agree we need health insurance, and that it will cost money.
However to what extent we choose to invest in that choice is the area I'd address.

Being healthy reduces costs, so does being informed about your choices and adapting your spending to meet them. If you've made other wise selections along the way, much like the knife- you shouldn't go without, but you can reduce the burden involved in carrying it.

Getting something you need for less than other people pay is a form of not spending your money as well. It is very similar to SUL mindsets and behaviors regarding meeting needs from multiple areas.

In my case, at around 40, I can choose to pay $500 for a high deductible plan or $1500. I can pocket the $1000 per month and invest into an HSA.
I'm "at risk" for a potential out of pocket zinger if something should happen- but being active/healthy relative to the others in my insurance pool helps reduce the portion of the risk I can control.

Make that choice for 10 years and by 50 I have $120k in an HSA and 60k lost to premiums assuming I simply chose a high deductible plan. I still spent my money, just spent it on myself in the form of self-insuring. Assuming I'm working this is all pretax money as well. Assuming I make a decent choice in my employment, it may not even be my money. Each choice costs 180k, but in one choice, 2/3rds of it stays in my control.

At present moment max out of pocket on any plan is about 13k per family and 6.5k per individual. Let's assume a bad break... a five year battle with cancer successfully beaten at age 55. Five years of catastrophic coverage max deductibles eats 32.5k from my HSA- but does not financially cripple me. Let's say other costs arise as well during that period and another 17.5k racks up. That still leaves 70k sitting there to cover some follow up care or eventually pay other costs during retirement.

The point being- you can avoid massive financial setback and eventually get ahead. Being decently healthy reduces risk overall for the year to year spending in the form of out of pocket costs- but it also means you can afford to stick with minimum coverage plans and keep your own money for your own needs as a cushion. Yar- it all costs money- but where does the money go? And if I spend less than average on my premium and my out of pocket costs; if I pocket the difference then I am eventually not spending money on healthcare.

Eventually I am not spending my time holding an unhealthy desk job just to keep my healthcare either, which gives me more time to be healthy, which spins the wheel again.

Even for someone past the point though to set themselves up; Picking up a job at a place like Costco that pays your health insurance and a modest paycheck may be a better choice than bleeding $500 out a month with no paycheck if you don't have other things going. Also gets you out and active with folks versus the average American retiree- which is healthy as well.

Bit like somebody advocating a bike vs a car. It's still transportation costs- they are just wildly different but don't stand alone as choices either. You may lose money taking a job you can bike commute to, but you may gain time for physical and mental health. After the counter balance of lost wages versus car payments, insurance, maintenance, plates, etc it may even shake out better for you overall.

Not trying to start a fight... or perhaps not explaining well.
But I think the parallels to backpacking are close enough that it's mainly an issue of flipping things around and connecting one choice to another rather than black and white choices.

You should never go stoveless in the shoulder seasons until you've worked out enough skills and the rest of your kit to not have to rely on a hot meal to get you out of a jamb.
But once you do... you aren't debating the lightest stove or pot, or doing chemistry experiments with your alchy stove- you just get to skip all that stuff altogether.
Healthcare, to me, falls along the same lines even if I haven't sorted out all the mysteries yet- which to be fair- this has been the worst time in our history to try to do it.

tour-kid
09-14-2016, 15:49
I'm that guy who said f-it in the face of responsibility.
At some point, you have to go home, or look around and realize you are homeless.
I hiked many thousands of miles, saw hundreds of grateful dead/phish/etc shows, traveled the entire country.
Eventually I longed for the still life and found myself in deep financial debt, with a lame resume with giant gaps.
It took me about about 15 years to get things back on track.
I now look at hiking as a treat that I try to savor every morsel of
Im a dad, my job is fun and relaxed (craft beer), and time is extremely valuable.
I split my time 3 ways 1.family 2.recreation (hopefully with family) 3.work

Hikingjim
09-14-2016, 16:32
I found this video of a girl who started when she was 9 and took 9 years to walk the whole trail. Very nicely presented, worth considering for other fathers and mothers who have a yen to walk the trail but cannot for various reasons take the 5 or 6 months in one go. Video is by Elizabeth King, entitled Growing Up On The Appalachian trail

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RrOt-R2Wgo

cool, I will check it out. I have been exposing my daughter to a lot of wilderness for many years. There was a lull in interest for awhile, but it's coming back!