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72jaybird
09-06-2010, 21:55
I'm 37 and have had the same career for 15 years. Being that I'm not just out of high school or college, I'm wondering how others have worked out being able to take 5 or 6 months off from work to thru-hike the AT. Any ideas or stories?

4eyedbuzzard
09-06-2010, 22:05
You could try to get a leave of absence. If you are in a low wage / low skill job, you have a better chance of getting employment after you're done at a similar level / pay. Generally, the higher the pay, the harder it is to get back. Some skills that are in high demand can make this easier - nursing, healthcare, physical therapists, and teachers seem to have the most want ads. If you're in a a good career though, and have a stable employment outlook over the next few years, now would be an especially poor time to just quit and expect to get rehired in anything close to what you may have now.

10-K
09-06-2010, 22:09
One word: Section hike

4-e-b pretty much covered it.

Factor in a family and mortgage and the logistics of it all can make a mid-life thru hike a poor decision. The operative word being "can" - you know your situation better than anyone else.

DapperD
09-06-2010, 23:06
I'm 37 and have had the same career for 15 years. Being that I'm not just out of high school or college, I'm wondering how others have worked out being able to take 5 or 6 months off from work to thru-hike the AT. Any ideas or stories?You say you have been in the same career for 15 years, but that answer can be some what vague. In other words, have you worked steady, for the same company, for 15 years? Or are you in a career like a blue-collar type career, say such as a Carpenter, or other Tradesperson who may need to change employers often, as jobs arise? This can mean the difference of being able to return back after a thru-hike, and being able to find suitable work and continue on basically financially unscathed, or if you lose a job with an employer where you have worked your entire life, could wind up being financially devastating. If you have a career where you know for a fact you will be able to look for and eventually find suitable work upon your return, then if you feel your life is fine and you have enough money to do a thru-hike and will have enough to tide you over for awhile upon your return, then maybe you can do it. If you are going to lose a job that is valuable and which will most likely be impossible to recoup upon your return, then maybe thru-hiking at this point of time in your life is not wise, given the nature of the current economic downturn:-?. And just so you know, it is said that most people who thru-hike are either younger, like right out of college, or retired. Us middle aged people usually are not as prevalent out on the trail thru-hiking, due to the fact we are usually in careers or raising families and paying off accumulated bills and debt:D.

le loupe
09-06-2010, 23:21
I'm 37 and have had the same career for 15 years. Being that I'm not just out of high school or college, I'm wondering how others have worked out being able to take 5 or 6 months off from work to thru-hike the AT. Any ideas or stories?

I'm 38, been working in the same industry for the greater part of 18 years. I have a mortgage and two small children, along with a wife who is not into backpacking.

I have to be content with a couple of sections a year.

I'll finish eventually...

JAK
09-06-2010, 23:57
Section hiking is probably healthier also. Still an extended hike or adventure is something everyone should try to do or aspire to do at some point in their lives. The most important thing i think is to make outdoor adventure activities as much an integral part of your life and lifestyle as possible. The best planning and preparation for a thru-hike is by getting out there and hiking, be it day hikes, weekend hikes, or section hikes. Dreaming big is important, but the payoff is not just the thru-hike if you ever get it done, but all the other hikes you do before hand even if you never do land the big one.

malowitz
09-07-2010, 01:09
I'm an engineer and took a 6-month leave of absence for my through this year. I don't think every person at my firm would have been approved. I've worked there for 8 years and I am a valued employee. Officially there was no sure thing that my job would be available when I finished, but I wasn't worried. In fact, I'm still taking the full 6 months even though I finished the hike in 5. If times are tough, calling it a voluntary furlough may be a good sell.

I don’t think the particulars are all based on your specific work place and you’re just going to have to test the waters to find out if you can pull it off.

4eyedbuzzard
09-07-2010, 10:20
I'm an engineer and took a 6-month leave of absence for my through this year. I don't think every person at my firm would have been approved. I've worked there for 8 years and I am a valued employee. Officially there was no sure thing that my job would be available when I finished, but I wasn't worried. In fact, I'm still taking the full 6 months even though I finished the hike in 5. If times are tough, calling it a voluntary furlough may be a good sell.

I donít think the particulars are all based on your specific work place and youíre just going to have to test the waters to find out if you can pull it off.
It was nice of your employer to grant you the leave. Most won't. And HR people generally don't view thru-hiking, mountain climbing expeditions, etc. as a positive on a resume when looking at employment gaps regardless of how much committment and effort is put into accomplishing one's goal. I don't necessarily agree with them, but I can understand their point of view. They want predictable boring employees who are happy with a few weeks off each year.

Old Hiker
09-07-2010, 10:25
I'm a teacher and blessed with a principal who believes that if a female can take off 3 months for maternity leave, then a male can take off for 3 months for a thru-hike. Very supportive, very interested in how I'm going to incorporate the planning in my science classes, very interested in me communicating from the trail about conditions, geology, biology, botany, etc.

I also have military retirement pay to help with any bills that come up while I'm gone and everything except for the mortgage should be paid off by then.

GeneralLee10
09-07-2010, 10:47
Stop working for money and walk. It's not that hard to figure out folks.

max patch
09-07-2010, 11:10
I saved so money wasn't an issue.

I had no kids so that wasn't an issue.

I had an understanding wife so that wasn't an issue.

I asked for a LOA and was denied. I quit; when I returned I was offered a similar job to return to my old company. I turned them down as I realized how much I hated working there.

I got interviews primarily because I thru hiked.

I didn't get interviews primarily because I thru hiked.

In todays economy it would be stupid to quit a job just to take a 6 month vacation unless you are close to retirement and are pretty much set for the rest of your life. Job market is horrible out there.

4eyedbuzzard
09-07-2010, 11:29
. . . In todays economy it would be stupid to quit a job just to take a 6 month vacation unless you are close to retirement and are pretty much set for the rest of your life. Job market is horrible out there.

That should be the biggest concern for people in their earning years right now. If you've got a stable job, now is simply not the time to give it up. The U6 measure of unemployment is right around 20%, forget about the more attractive looking 10% U3 measurement. Lots of people that were making good incomes are out of work or working minimum wage jobs and burning through savings and/or living on debt. And it doesn't look like it's going to get better anytime soon. :(

sbhikes
09-07-2010, 11:37
I was offered a LOA but I turned it down. I never was able to go back to that company. I wasn't very happy there anyway. I'm now working part-time without benefits. I'm a computer programmer. Still, I wouldn't trade the experience of the hike for anything.

JAK
09-07-2010, 12:11
I think it has alot to do with relationships. By the time you have figured out you need them, its often too late to build them, so then you may have to figure out a way to get by without them. But I don't know that much about them really. I am married and have a lovely daughter whom I both love, but I still don't think I know the difference between a relationship and an ever increasing series of swift kicks in the groin. Anyhow, with the right relationships you can do just about anything in life. Without relationships you can do just about anything also, not that you or anyone would give a damn. Most people are somewhere in the middle. Figuring out where exactly, and where you are going, and where you maybe should be going, that ain't easy. Either way, you never know where he next kick is coming from, so you either move on or just wait for it.

malowitz
09-07-2010, 14:20
In todays economy it would be stupid to quit a job just to take a 6 month vacation unless you are close to retirement and are pretty much set for the rest of your life. Job market is horrible out there.


That should be the biggest concern for people in their earning years right now. If you've got a stable job, now is simply not the time to give it up. The U6 measure of unemployment is right around 20%, forget about the more attractive looking 10% U3 measurement. Lots of people that were making good incomes are out of work or working minimum wage jobs and burning through savings and/or living on debt. And it doesn't look like it's going to get better anytime soon. :(


It was nice of your employer to grant you the leave. Most won't. And HR people generally don't view thru-hiking, mountain climbing expeditions, etc. as a positive on a resume when looking at employment gaps regardless of how much committment and effort is put into accomplishing one's goal. I don't necessarily agree with them, but I can understand their point of view. They want predictable boring employees who are happy with a few weeks off each year.


I was very surprised when I first ran into this attitude on the trail. There were some people aghast that I took a leave from a good job. Itís what I wanted to do so I did it. Although we were in the vast minority, there were other thrus with jobs waiting for them upon their return. If you're going to sit there wishing you were out trying to thru hike instead, is it worth it? Or if you're burned out and going to miserable, is it worth the security of the job?

As for the LOA - check the policy. My company had a "personal leave" that didn't need a specific reason. I didn't hide my reasons though. Most people think it is pretty cool. In fact, I finished in 5 months, but I'm taking the whole 6 months off so I can relax and readjust.

I'm 34. I'm early/mid career. I saved money for the trip and mortgage (I had renters at a token $200/mo to look after the place for 3 months). It worked for me. Good luck.

gravityman
09-07-2010, 14:46
Asked for a LOA for 7 months after working at the company for 4 years. It was good timing for my project, the company was very happy with my work, and I was considered (and am considered) a valuable employee. They went out of the way to accommodate me, and it all worked out. In fact, they were letting people go as I was coming back, but they made sure I had plenty to do. If you're valuable to the company and the company understands that, they will find a way.

Totally worth it though! Had a mortgage and a wife. One went on the hike with me, the other just took my money. Now my wife and I have two kids and the mortgage is still taking my money.

Gravity

4eyedbuzzard
09-07-2010, 15:52
I was very surprised when I first ran into this attitude on the trail. There were some people aghast that I took a leave from a good job. Itís what I wanted to do so I did it. Although we were in the vast minority, there were other thrus with jobs waiting for them upon their return. If you're going to sit there wishing you were out trying to thru hike instead, is it worth it? Or if you're burned out and going to miserable, is it worth the security of the job?

As for the LOA - check the policy. My company had a "personal leave" that didn't need a specific reason. I didn't hide my reasons though. Most people think it is pretty cool. In fact, I finished in 5 months, but I'm taking the whole 6 months off so I can relax and readjust.

I'm 34. I'm early/mid career. I saved money for the trip and mortgage (I had renters at a token $200/mo to look after the place for 3 months). It worked for me. Good luck.

Taking a LOA is great if you can get one. Most people can't. Quitting outright may result in more misery down the road than not thru-hiking. As only 25% or so actually finish their thru anyway, it a big gamble if you have a good job, because in today's economy it likely won't be there when you get done.

Dogwood
09-07-2010, 16:25
I'm 37 and have had the same career for 15 years. Being that I'm not just out of high school or college, I'm wondering how others have worked out being able to take 5 or 6 months off from work to thru-hike the AT. Any ideas or stories?

I think most folks who ask me this question about myself actually want me to tell them how they can take 5 or 6 months off from work. Even after I tell them how THEY might accomplish the act of taking off 5 to 6 months from work it scares them. My recommendations don't sit very well with their way of thinking, that is magnifying the obstacle, taking off from work. They have this approach avoidance scenario in their mind where as they get closer to actually accomplishing their goal(s)/dream(s)/idea(s) they fail to follow through. Unfortunately, I have found that sometimes those who are asking about how something can be accomplished are unconsciously seeking reasons/excuses why it can't be done! It means they don't even have to try. That is the way their brains have been conditioned. I dare you to to examine, think, and act outside of this conditioning!

I used to begin answering this question by telling others how I do it. Before I could get very far with my own experiences they would stop me and tell me why they weren't in the same situation and why they couldn't take the same approach as myself. Well, of course, because no two people are in EXACTLY the same situation. I think they were missing the BIG picture! There is no one magic bullet one size fits all approach as to how you take off 5 to 6 months from work.

Accomplishing your unordinary dreams and BIG ideas most often requires unordinary/outside of the box ways of new thinking! It may mean having to go against societal, cultural. national, and/or family norms! This is the place where you will find the answer to your own question, "how do I find a way to take off 5 to 6 months of work."

Think about those creative possibly unorthodox thinking times when you found a way, when at first there seemed to be no way/solution, or you weren't, at first, aware of how you were going to accomplish something and still you found a way that was right for you. IN THAT SAME PLACE IS WHERE YOU WILL FIND YOUR ANSWER! It will mean you will have to make some choices that some may find unagreeable. At first you may even have a hard time. Be prepared for opposition because you have decided to set yourself up to accomplish the unordinary!

Go explore!

All the Best

Doc Mike
09-07-2010, 22:35
Everything and I mean Everything in life is a choice. So figure out what is the worst that can happen with your choice and then decide if you can deal with that.

Remember there is no such thing as I HAVE to do this or that.

Doc Mike

sbhikes
09-10-2010, 15:34
Accomplishing your unordinary dreams and BIG ideas most often requires unordinary/outside of the box ways of new thinking! It may mean having to go against societal, cultural. national, and/or family norms! This is the place where you will find the answer to your own question, "how do I find a way to take off 5 to 6 months of work."
Dogwood you make a good point. A lot of people really don't want to know how you did it because they already know. You have to make yourself vulnerable to the economy. You have to do something outside the norm.

The economy isn't very forgiving to those who don't bow down to it. If you can get a LOA you will be a little less vulnerable than someone who quits, but you'll still be vulnerable. You will have shown them that you were disloyal to the system. Maybe they won't be able to control you because you showed them you're not totally dependent and subservient.

I ask myself all the time what on earth is this economy for? Who benefits by me playing by the rules, striving to achieve, trying to build a perfect relationship to work? So far in my life, it hasn't been me. So I quit my job to hike instead. Now the corporate world is distrustful of me, but it hasn't been entirely impossible to get a job in this economy.

stranger
09-12-2010, 02:25
I solved this problem by leaving the USA (before then I simply quit jobs to go hiking), at first it was temporary but after about two years I couldn't bring myself to ever return to America to live.

In other parts of the world, in my case Australia and New Zealand (and many parts of Europe), it's quite common for people to get a absolute minimum of 4-8 weeks vacation per year...paid vacation. In addition to that, it's fairly standard to get an additional 4 weeks of unpaid leave if requested. Plus you can earn alot more money in other parts of the world as well, so booking international flights doesn't kill your budget.

Taking extended unpaid leave (3-6 months) is also quite common and relatively easy to do in many circumstances.

I'm 35 and I would say I probably work for about 8 months each year on average and I'm debt free. I do long distance hikes every year, I travel, go on road trips, etc...It can certainly be done if you are serious about it.

DapperD
09-12-2010, 22:06
I solved this problem by leaving the USA (before then I simply quit jobs to go hiking), at first it was temporary but after about two years I couldn't bring myself to ever return to America to live.

In other parts of the world, in my case Australia and New Zealand (and many parts of Europe), it's quite common for people to get a absolute minimum of 4-8 weeks vacation per yearI have heard this also. In Europe, long restful vacations are something that is accepted and understood. Here in the USA any vacation time is usually brief and at a premium. The only difference is that now with the economy here the way it is, many of us are forced to take long unwanted "vacations" due to the lack of current available jobs here in this country:-?.

sbhikes
09-13-2010, 00:01
I thought most of these countries wouldn't just take any old American who wants to leave. What kind of work do you do?

4eyedbuzzard
09-13-2010, 00:13
My cousin has been living in Germany for many years, working for Messerschmitt, ABB, Seimens, etc, and he has told me that many of the big foreign companies are beginning to cut back on "holidays" / vacation time and the like. Still better than most US companies - but not as good as it was for many years.

stranger
09-16-2010, 22:21
I'm a union organizer however that has little to do with me being able to work overseas (I'm a permanent resident of New Zealand and hold a work visa for Australia, American by birth), but it does help with obtaining leave because I can work on a campaign for 6-12 months and when it's finished, I can take leave. Most of my work involves intense, but short, periods of time, the usual campaign being less than 18 months, and as short as 6-8, depends on various factors.

New Zealand is easier to get into than Australia, mainly because wages in Australia are much higher. The average wage in Australia is around $22/hour, where as in New Zealand is about $16/hour...so many Kiwis head to Aussie to reap the rewards! $30/hour is fairly common in Australia for many jobs, that wouldn't be considered 'wealthy' by any means.

If you have any questions about this send me a message, happy to talk you through the process. It's not as difficult as you might think.

Tilly
09-16-2010, 22:39
No children, no pets, no mortagage, and practically no stuff makes it much more feasible to thruhike. Not having these entanglements--and I'm not saying it's easier, or the right thing to do all the time--will make it easier to thruhike.

I can imagine that some fields are easier to bounce around in than others. In my field people often hiring, and I can move around a bit (due to not having kids or a mortgage.) But then again, I do not make much money, and benefits are hard to come by.

Good luck.

Wuff
09-19-2010, 14:42
I'm sort of in the same boat right now. I am preparing to request my LOA, just waiting for the right time. My company allows for up to 1 year of unpaid leave for personal reasons, although these requests are not always granted I'm sure. I'll keep my fingers crossed. I think I've got a 50/50 shot. I have a good reason beyond just hiking and I am a valued employee. We'll see what happens, and if I end up having the guts to quit if its not approved.

yari
09-19-2010, 17:52
I am struggling with some of these issues myself. I am completely burned out at my job. I am prepared to quit in February and start hiking in March. Almost every single person I have told is against my doing it. I have heard everything from "You will never get the same job back." "You need to take a hiking partner, your dog, a gun, a taser, better equipment (pick one of many others)." "You are ruining your career." "You have no idea what it is like to be looking for a job in this economy." Blah, blah, blah. Not that I don't respect their concern, these are people that love me and want the best for me. What they don't seem to understand is I don't want to work in this field anymore. I am dying (at least emotionally and stress is killing me physically) slowly and painfully where I am and doing what I am doing. I am ready for a radical change in my life. I don't have children or a husband, I already sold my house several years ago. The worst thing that could happen is I end up flipping burgers somewhere for part time minimum wage. I will survive. And hopefully, I will have accomplished something big that I have always wanted to do.

stranger
09-20-2010, 00:58
The reason people tell you not to do something is usually because they would never do it themselves, they don't have the guts or courage, they are too afraid, etc...If you do it and are successful, then what does it say about them, how will they feel, etc...

Most people I've met, and Americans in particular (I'm American by the way), are indoctrinated with fear from a young age, don't talk to strangers, don't talk back at school, don't challenge your employer, etc... People focus on the risks, then they exaggerate the risks, then they become overwhelmed and do nothing. Don't wanna rock the boat right?

Rock the boat, flip the bastard over!

"Feel the fear and do it anyway..." sounds like you will.

yari
09-20-2010, 01:37
Rock the boat, flip the bastard over!

"Feel the fear and do it anyway..." sounds like you will.

Absolutely. I am a true believer in go ahead and be afraid, just don't let it stop you from doing what you want to do.

Tilly
09-20-2010, 11:13
I am struggling with some of these issues myself. I am completely burned out at my job. I am prepared to quit in February and start hiking in March. Almost every single person I have told is against my doing it. I have heard everything from "You will never get the same job back." "You need to take a hiking partner, your dog, a gun, a taser, better equipment (pick one of many others)." "You are ruining your career." "You have no idea what it is like to be looking for a job in this economy." Blah, blah, blah. Not that I don't respect their concern, these are people that love me and want the best for me. What they don't seem to understand is I don't want to work in this field anymore. I am dying (at least emotionally and stress is killing me physically) slowly and painfully where I am and doing what I am doing. I am ready for a radical change in my life. I don't have children or a husband, I already sold my house several years ago. The worst thing that could happen is I end up flipping burgers somewhere for part time minimum wage. I will survive. And hopefully, I will have accomplished something big that I have always wanted to do.

Wow, what kind of work are you in? This sounds horrible!

I wouldn't worry about finding another job. You aren't chained to a mortgage, you have no husband or children. In exchange, you get FREEDOM! Mobility helps alot when looking for new employment, anyway.

sbhikes
09-20-2010, 12:33
I am struggling with some of these issues myself. I am completely burned out at my job. I am prepared to quit in February and start hiking in March. Almost every single person I have told is against my doing it. I have heard everything from "You will never get the same job back." "You need to take a hiking partner, your dog, a gun, a taser, better equipment (pick one of many others)." "You are ruining your career." "You have no idea what it is like to be looking for a job in this economy." Blah, blah, blah. Not that I don't respect their concern, these are people that love me and want the best for me. What they don't seem to understand is I don't want to work in this field anymore. I am dying (at least emotionally and stress is killing me physically) slowly and painfully where I am and doing what I am doing. I am ready for a radical change in my life. I don't have children or a husband, I already sold my house several years ago. The worst thing that could happen is I end up flipping burgers somewhere for part time minimum wage. I will survive. And hopefully, I will have accomplished something big that I have always wanted to do.

My conversations with other hikers showed that a lot of them were right where you are. I certainly was. Most hikers are in some kind of transition phase in life. Divorce, graduation, job change. Something like that.

I simply realized that I was going in to the office every day, sitting in the dark with freezing cold air-conditioning blowing on my head, wearing a down jacket even in summer time and I was dying. And for what? Money?

The only thing in this world that I truly own is my time here. I was squandering it. Giving it to the rich bastards at the top of the company in exchange for money. This wasn't living. I sat in a parking lot in the rain at lunch on my birthday and watched these little birds and realized I needed to be out in nature. Bye-bye job.

Sure I have less money, but I have more time. While on the trail I was the richest lady in the universe. I had all the wildflowers and sunshine anyone could hope for. I have less wildflowers now that I'm not on the trail, but I have more time. Time to be creative. Time to learn. Time to enjoy my life. I work part-time and I love it.

We're indoctrinated to work work work. You need money. You need comforts. It's irresponsible to do otherwise. I think this is wrong.

I may push a shopping cart in my old age, but I'll be pushing it up the Pacific Crest Trail.

Appalachian Tater
09-20-2010, 12:41
I thru-hiked when the company I worked for was bought by another company and I didn't want to work for the new company. A lot of thru-hikers are finishing something--usually their careers or school--so they are in-between, in some kind of transition.

A few get time off from a job but most people just can't do that. The decision will be different for every person. If you are single, don't own a house and can pick up and move, and have skills that make it easy to get a job, it is a lot easier to make the decision to quit work and hike. If you are older, have obligations, or would have trouble finding a comparable job, then it is a heftier decision.

Wuff
09-21-2010, 14:18
Just an update - I spoke with my manager yesterday about taking a LOA and he was very receptive to the idea. I'm just going to have to create a plan for the work to get done while I'm away. Things of course could change in the next 5 months, but so far so good.

You never know until you ask.

Now to buy some new toys for the trail..

Penn-J
09-21-2010, 18:49
"There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living";)

yari
09-21-2010, 18:54
Wow, what kind of work are you in? This sounds horrible!

I wouldn't worry about finding another job. You aren't chained to a mortgage, you have no husband or children. In exchange, you get FREEDOM! Mobility helps alot when looking for new employment, anyway.

I am the Practice Administrator for a small medical practice. If you ever hear about someone that goes domestic terrorist and starts bombing insurance companies, that would be me. :D

Dogwood
09-21-2010, 20:05
The reason people tell you not to do something is usually because they would never do it themselves, they don't have the guts or courage, they are too afraid, etc...If you do it and are successful, then what does it say about them, how will they feel, etc...

Most people I've met, and Americans in particular (I'm American by the way), are indoctrinated with fear from a young age, don't talk to strangers, don't talk back at school, don't challenge your employer, etc... People focus on the risks, then they exaggerate the risks, then they become overwhelmed and do nothing. Don't wanna rock the boat right?

Rock the boat, flip the bastard over!

"Feel the fear and do it anyway..." sounds like you will.

That's the BEST post I've read in a while! Just be careful to duck your head as the shart flies your way for saying that!

Uncle Cranky
09-21-2010, 20:08
Here's the solution to your problem.

Sell your house and pay back the mortgage.
Divorce your wife so you won't have her worry while your on the trail.
If your wife doesn't get custody send your kids to an orphanage and let the State take over your responsibilities.
Give the finger to your boss and quit your job.
Now go have a good time on the trail for the next six months

PeterB
09-22-2010, 20:18
If you can't get a LOA for 5-6 months, then either try for a shorter one or save up 6 weeks of vacation and use that.

If everything goes well, then you can quit 2 weeks before the time is up. If you get injured or drop out, then you have a fall back position.

double d
09-23-2010, 01:46
That should be the biggest concern for people in their earning years right now. If you've got a stable job, now is simply not the time to give it up. The U6 measure of unemployment is right around 20%, forget about the more attractive looking 10% U3 measurement. Lots of people that were making good incomes are out of work or working minimum wage jobs and burning through savings and/or living on debt. And it doesn't look like it's going to get better anytime soon. :(

That is just plain, old fashioned good advice. I have friends in their early 40's and at the height of their careers that have had the bottom fall out on them recently (and their families) in terms of losing their jobs and steady income. Its one thing to love your job, its another to keep it, so my advice would be to section hike when you can. Guys like me live in the wasteland (Northern Illinois) in terms of scenic trails, so look around and see what life has to offer.

double d
09-23-2010, 01:50
The reason people tell you not to do something is usually because they would never do it themselves, they don't have the guts or courage, they are too afraid, etc...If you do it and are successful, then what does it say about them, how will they feel, etc...

Most people I've met, and Americans in particular (I'm American by the way), are indoctrinated with fear from a young age, don't talk to strangers, don't talk back at school, don't challenge your employer, etc... People focus on the risks, then they exaggerate the risks, then they become overwhelmed and do nothing. Don't wanna rock the boat right?

Rock the boat, flip the bastard over!

"Feel the fear and do it anyway..." sounds like you will.

You nailed it (in my opinion)!

Blue Jay
09-24-2010, 20:45
Most people I've met, and Americans in particular (I'm American by the way), are indoctrinated with fear from a young age, don't talk to strangers, don't talk back at school, don't challenge your employer, etc... People focus on the risks, then they exaggerate the risks, then they become overwhelmed and do nothing. Don't wanna rock the boat right?

Rock the boat, flip the bastard over!

"Feel the fear and do it anyway..." sounds like you will.

I agree, you nailed it. The first time I quit a good job to hike, everyone I knew at the time, said that I'd regret it. Then I continued to do it and one by one they all realized that you do not have to climb on the treadmill and stay there. The tread mill is EXACTLY the same when you get back. Corporate Amerikan Media sells nothing but fear, fear of a thousand different things, now they're down to bedbugs. It keeps the Globetrotter/Generals political system/scam going. There are holes in the fence, under the fence the fence is not very high and is made of uncooked spaghetti. Fear is the only thing keeping it up.

Datto
10-11-2010, 22:52
Any ideas or stories?

In Year 2000 I'd asked for a leave of absence from my employer and was denied. It was as I'd expected it to be. For some reason my employer at the time thought that would be the end of the discussion. So I turned in my resignation with more than a month notice -- written and all -- and my employer thought it was a joke. Laughed and all. For the next two weeks I kept seeing my name scheduled out for activities over summer and autumn. I finally kept emailing that I wasn't going to be there to handle those activities and that I would be on the Appalachian Trail.

The response was finally, "You're not serious are you?"

Well of course the next thing -- all seriousness aside -- was that I started getting advice on which gun I should carry on that there Appalachian Trail. You know, to fight off bears and such. Terence -- the guy with the ladies who had the talking dashboard that called him Master that I mention in my AT journal -- told me he'd investigated it all for me and said, in his conclusion, that it was obvious that I should be carrying a nine millimeter. I laughed after his presentation -- told him I wasn't going to be carrying a gun. He asked why would I not be willing to carry a gun and I told him that I couldn't eat a gun.

Then, the piece d' restavia -- after finally having everyone believing that I wouldn't be there over the summer and autumn -- I had my exit interview with the Human Resources Director. This was someone who had made it all the way to an Executive VP position in a sizable company.

He told me I should be carrying skis on the Appalachian Trail. That I should be skiing the AT. I suppose you could call that Groove Blazing the AT. Anyhow, he had a whole bunch of ski catalogs that he'd brought with him to the exit interview so he and I could go over the options for skiing. You know, I tried to tell him that I wasn't going to be skiing the AT but he just kept going down that path anyhow so I let him go on and started asking him about the best ski equipment he thought I should consider for the AT. He got out the LL Bean catalogs too and started showing me all the new LL Bean stuff and I just went along with it. Man, I was in there for more than an hour and a half. I thanked him for all the advice -- what else could I do?

Somewhere on my AT thru-hike in the Smokies, a woman had got eaten by a bear. It happened only a few miles from me but at the time I didn't know anything about it. Back home it had made the national news and the people at work were worried about me -- when I called from Mountain Mamas north of the Smokies just to touch base with the people at work I was told in no uncertain terms that I should have some kind of firearm with me. I ended up assuring the people at work that I had ample protection with me. Well not that type -- I was talking about my hiking poles but I didn't mention that.

When I got back home after my thru-hike the people in my home town thought I was way way too skinny. Gaunt was how I was described even though I'd felt great. Next thing you know I have several ladies who want me to come to get fed and well, you know, a thru-hiker can't pass up a free meal.

Turns out the mother of one of the women...I'd hiked with on the AT -- she's flipped up to Katahdin and was southbound when I'd met up with her again in the Whites. Man alive what a small world. Still today hard for me to believe the coincidence.

If you think that's funny, what about meeting AT thru-hikers on opposite sides of the world? Now that is wild. Yeah, just walkin' down the trail. Or faceplanting on the West Highland Way into the backs of an unfortunate group of people only to apologize for knocking them down and finding out they're from Indiana and live less than an hour away from me?

So yeah, in certain circles I'm the first person who has skied the Appalachian Trail. I do not take on that honor lightly I might add.

Boy, you would not believe how hard it is to get skis to go down the main drag in Duncannon. The people at the Doyle didn't think it so unusual since they'd seen Elvis on a go-cart the day before during happy hour.

Datto

Blue Jay
10-12-2010, 09:18
Taking a LOA is great if you can get one. Most people can't. Quitting outright may result in more misery down the road than not thru-hiking. As only 25% or so actually finish their thru anyway, it a big gamble if you have a good job, because in today's economy it likely won't be there when you get done.

Not quitting is very likely to result in regret down the road. There are only so many ticks on each one of our clocks. No amount of money is intrinsically truly worth even one hour of your precious life. Granted you have to trade some time for money. But putting off the amazing dream that is the AT for something you yourself said will not get better anytime soon, is a gigantic risk. Unless your job is as big a dream, that risk is waaaaay to great. Life is a big gamble, play the odds, hike the Trail.

Carbo
10-12-2010, 10:55
I played by the rules my entire life. Did everything you're "supposed" to do. Went to college, spent 4 years serving in the military, got a job, got married, had two kids, put them through school, I always had a good job, spent way too many weekends and late nights at work with the same employer for the last 13 years, then got layed-off within 2 years of retirement. Don't think that just because you are a responsible, hard working, dedicated person, life is going to be any better for you than the next guy. You need to be aware of what your life is right now, not what you did to get here. If you have an overwhelming desire to attempt a thru, do it! If you think that taking off for 6 months is going to screw up your life... I can tell you that can happen even if you don't take the 6 months off, plus you will still have the regret of not following your dream.

canoehead
10-12-2010, 11:11
Just do it... and have fun
Peace.

sbhikes
10-12-2010, 13:51
There are only so many ticks on each one of our clocks. No amount of money is intrinsically truly worth even one hour of your precious life.

This is EXACTLY the thought that went through my head over and over every single day of my life until I finally quit my job to go hike. Each morning when I woke up I actually had to think about it and try to remember what day it was, what month, what year. I was wasting the only thing of value I posess--time. The only ones getting rich off my time were the company executives. I was merely being adequately compensated. I blew off making them rich for making me rich. Rich in time, rich in wildflowers, sunshine, birds, fresh air and views that nobody with any amount of money will ever own. I was the richest woman in the whole world for 6 months of my life.


I played by the rules my entire life. Did everything you're "supposed" to do. ... then got layed-off within 2 years of retirement.

That's the thing. The social contract between employer and employee has been broken. We think we're doing good by them but they don't owe you anything for all your sacrifice and they truly are more likely to renege on any social contracts, even the ones in writing, than they are to uphold them.

There's a better world out there. You do have to sacrifice to get it, but the rewards are great.

Carbo
10-12-2010, 16:03
... I blew off making them rich for making me rich. Rich in time, rich in wildflowers, sunshine, birds, fresh air and views that nobody with any amount of money will ever own. I was the richest woman in the whole world for 6 months of my life.



And no one could take this away from you by outsourcing, downsizing, reorganizing, consolidating, or liquidating you from a hike!

Speakeasy TN
10-19-2010, 20:49
As a loyal employee YOU have to know that you can write your own ticket. My bosses have been extra supportive. We are good for each other. It's not a one way street.
I've been to HR before but I have to tell you... "See ya when you get back" sounds awfully sweet!

VABikePacker
10-19-2010, 22:28
Reading this post made me sign up here. I've been a "hidden lurker with no name" for a while - reading all the tips and tales from the trail..

I came "at you" as a self employed individual - I was fired from a pretty good gig for insubordination. (Well, that's the label that was placed on it - to me, it was standing up for what was right and standing my ground for a decision that was best for all involved...Needless to say, a strong sense of self in corporate america isn't as good as you might think it would be.)

Some mentioned "the way things are not seeming right" - This is because things aren't exactly what they seem:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xbp6umQT58A

(I will openly admit that I have NOT taken 6 months off from anything to even begin to attempt what some of you here have - I'm one of those envious onlookers who can only imagine the life change that has taken place with your AT thru accomplishments..)

mweinstone
10-19-2010, 22:37
another silly thread. no . no storys about how i took off work. heres what you need to do. tommorow morning dont go to work and dont call in. even if your a surgeon. you see, humans have back up humans who fill in for humans who dont show for work due to the human factor witch can be described as folks who cant be counted on ever. also, you are free to quit your entire life. no matter how many kids or bosses are depending on you due to the human nature of being human. you could leave earth or die as well. with no ill effects. you see were all blobs. and as blobs, we dont matter. so hike, or dont. work or dont. work and hike some or dont. but find crap to post about thats way way way more fun. like this,.....




hey, i need to hike and cant take off work without feeling bad and loosing alot. anyone have a lot of time to hear me wine?

pistol p
10-22-2010, 10:31
another silly thread. no . no storys about how i took off work. heres what you need to do. tommorow morning dont go to work and dont call in. even if your a surgeon. you see, humans have back up humans who fill in for humans who dont show for work due to the human factor witch can be described as folks who cant be counted on ever. also, you are free to quit your entire life. no matter how many kids or bosses are depending on you due to the human nature of being human. you could leave earth or die as well. with no ill effects. you see were all blobs. and as blobs, we dont matter. so hike, or dont. work or dont. work and hike some or dont. but find crap to post about thats way way way more fun. like this,.....




hey, i need to hike and cant take off work without feeling bad and loosing alot. anyone have a lot of time to hear me wine?


Really? :rolleyes:

Walkintom
10-28-2010, 20:53
Well, here is how I plan to be able to thru-hike.

The wife and I are going together so we've started acquiring gear and doing training hikes with our packs. We will do several hikes with overnight stays in various locations using only our planned gear. This won't prepare us for the trail, but it should help us prepare to deal with the fact that we won't be perfectly prepared. (we are both maximizers by nature).

When we are definitely ready from a financial standpoint (plan is 2012 if no unforeseen obstacles arise) then I will explain to my employer that I am going to go hike the AT. I will request a LOA - we have a 6 month policy on the books. I will be charming and convincing but ultimately whether a LOA is granted is out of my hands. I *could* start campaigning now but frankly I don't think it would be all that bright to start advertising a guaranteed absence or departure. I will know 6 months in advance if we have the $ and I will bring it up at that time - when I consider it relevant and timely.

The worst that can happen is that they could fire me on the spot and maybe suggest some ski gear. They won't. I know my boss. I know the HR people. I like them because they happen to be good folks. If they make a business decision that they cannot afford to grant me a LOA then I'll still go hike.

I work to live, and hiking the AT is a self fulfillment goal that I will not sacrifice for my job. I can get another job; I can not get another life. The job market is tough, no doubt. And I genuinely like my job and employers. So I will do my best to convince them to grant that LOA - but LOA will not dictate my decision.

My plan may not be the best one. But it is A PLAN. I never hear about anyone who plans to fail. I hear a LOT about people who failed to plan.

What works for me may not work for others. It may not even work for me - but If I fail it won't be because I didn't go hike.

Birc h
11-04-2010, 12:40
Walkintom we seem think alike :)

Where I work there was recently a big ordeal about religion, particularly about wearing scarfs to cover a womans head. I'm not going to get into all that, but I was told that if you use the word Sabbatical and treat your hike as a spiritual experiance, the company will have a hard time saying no to a LOA request.

I've spent 15 years with my company and have always been a "good" boy. Honestly, I really do enjoy my job and losing it would really hurt me, but I don't want regrets. My mother is 65yrs old and was always going to hike the AT, realistically, she is not healthy enough to do it now.

I think of my upcomming 2012 thru hike as a spiritual journey, I'm sure most people will agree. It is just a matter of using the correct verbage and making sure the company knows it is more than an extended vacation.

sbhikes
11-04-2010, 13:36
"I can get another job; I can not get another life."
Awesome!

Wuff
11-05-2010, 12:42
another silly thread. no . no storys about how i took off work. heres what you need to do. tommorow morning dont go to work and dont call in. even if your a surgeon. you see, humans have back up humans who fill in for humans who dont show for work due to the human factor witch can be described as folks who cant be counted on ever. also, you are free to quit your entire life. no matter how many kids or bosses are depending on you due to the human nature of being human. you could leave earth or die as well. with no ill effects. you see were all blobs. and as blobs, we dont matter. so hike, or dont. work or dont. work and hike some or dont. but find crap to post about thats way way way more fun. like this,.....




hey, i need to hike and cant take off work without feeling bad and loosing alot. anyone have a lot of time to hear me wine?

I think its funny that you dislike the thread enough to read all of it and then post a really long response. Seems like a waste of your time.

Peace,

chief
11-05-2010, 14:49
The worst that can happen is that they could fire me on the spot and maybe suggest some ski gear. They won't. I know my boss. I know the HR people. I like them because they happen to be good folks. If they make a business decision that they cannot afford to grant me a LOA then I'll still go hike.

Seems you're determined to go hiking no matter what. Given that, I think the right thing to do is resign when the time is right and be done with it. Why would you ask the good folks who employ you to work around your dream? At the least, be honest and tell them you're going regardless.

Datto
11-13-2010, 08:22
Another approach to consider is stepping back and seeing your life as a gift. Everyone has a finite time on earth with the only difference from person to person being the duration. Your finite time on earth is your gift and you have been given the complete and unwavering choice on what you do with your gift.

Ask yourself what it is that you want to do with your life in the next 30 months. If you were on your deathbed 30 months from now and looking back on your life, what would you wish that you would have experienced or accomplished or completed or gained?

Those are the things you want to start focusing on -- beginning today.

It's a very tough question to answer -- the question of what one wishes. The choices are immense. Most people are never able to know what it is they want out of the gift of life. Most can't describe it in detail, which is the very first step -- writing it down in detail. Time elapses and demands from others press on -- eventually some people squander their lives in pursuit of nothingness and sameness day after day. Oh yeah, there are the rationalizations on why things never got done, why time escaped and elapsed, why other priorities got addressed.

Just by you reading this it puts you into the realm of taking control of your gift of life and pursuing what it is you are after.

There is the planning part and then there is the execution part. I can tell you from past experience, most people never get to the planning part at all and simply pinball their way through life. For those that get to the planning part, the majority won't fully execute their plan for one reason or another (fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of being thought unconventional, fear of going broke, too many distractions, lack of the ability to focus).

Those who do move forward and take control of their lives -- I believe they have the most fulfilling, most treasured, most rewarding time from their gift of life. They extract their essence from the gift.

When it all gets said and done and you're on your deathbed looking back at your life, the elements that will rise to the fore will be experiences. It won't be money, it won't be that new Beemer, it won't be your four bedroom two and a half bath house, it certainly won't be some job.

It will be your experiences.

I say to anyone reading this -- what in the heck are you waiting for? Figure out what it is you want and start moving in that direction. Write down on paper what it is you want for the next 30 months -- you'll be amazed at how the simple act of writing things down will bring forth purpose. Take steps every day toward what it is you want from your gift. Take measures to reduce the loads that you're carrying. Extract the glorious essence from your life. And stop wasting so much time on meaningless effort and thought toward things that don't count.

Instead, focus. Be intent on pursuing what it is you want from your gift.

Pursue that which is your purpose, your meaningfulness. Put the plan together today and begin making daily progress -- every day from now on. Every day without exception, seven days per week.

You know what? That small effort put forth every day adds up. It sneaks up on you. All of a sudden you see the sign that says, "Welcome To Maine".

Datto

Trailbender
04-02-2011, 15:32
Taking a LOA is great if you can get one. Most people can't. Quitting outright may result in more misery down the road than not thru-hiking. As only 25% or so actually finish their thru anyway, it a big gamble if you have a good job, because in today's economy it likely won't be there when you get done.


This is a lot easier to do if you are not a slave to owning stuff. Last year I thru hiked, this year I got rid of everything I owned(not much to begin with), am giving this computer to a friend, dropping my car off at a junkyard, and hitting the AT. I am not sure how long I will be out there, but I have to find out for myself. I thought a thru last year would cure my "wander lust" or whatever, if anything, it made it a lot worse.

Skywalker
04-02-2011, 16:18
"Solvitur ambulando." St. Augustine

Skywalker

Mags
04-02-2011, 18:22
I'm 37 and have had the same career for 15 years. Being that I'm not just out of high school or college, I'm wondering how others have worked out being able to take 5 or 6 months off from work to thru-hike the AT. Any ideas or stories?

Work hard, save money, quit work. Hike. Repeat for thirteen years! :)

Worked for me several times by choice (and one year not by choice!).

My career has suffered somewhat..but I make a comfortable enough salary as my needs our modest. More importantly, I would not trade the memories and experience I've had for anything! I am your age (next month), and my obligations are now different than even five years ago. Plan on getting married next year, currently cultivating and building up my skill set...but the idea has not changed of making the outdoors the important part of my life.

I am fortunate that my fiance' also loves the outdoors, believes in a modest lifestyle and has dreams similar to mine.

Now there are two of us working hard, saving money and in ~3 yrs we are doing 'something'. I had a good run from 1997 - 2010. Now, I am just in a holding pattern until the next phase. :) Adrianna and I have decided very quickly that 3-4 wks of vacation is not enough for us and are making plans accordingly so we can achieve that goal.

Guess, as others said, you have to make the choice of how to live your life and go for it. It will take sacrifice, hard work and diligence..but anything in life worth achieving takes that. :)

(It helps I live in area where even on weekends I can delight in how wonderful the outdoors can be. Hike among the early Spring wildflowers today with Adrianna. Backcountry ski at 11k ft with the buddies tomorrow! Woo!)

blitz1
04-03-2011, 10:27
Quitting work is fine, but I'd advise instead to get fired, with a nice juicy severance package. I didn't really plan it this way, but my company had a big cut, my whole group was eliminated. I was offered a new role and bonus to stay on, but decided instead to take the package, which they fortunately agreed to. So now I get to do a thru, which I've always wanted, and already have a new job lined up for when i finish!
YMMV

Datto
04-03-2011, 12:53
Here are some goals to consider for those wanting to thru-hike the AT and then continue with adventuring as a sizeable part of life.

Live Frugally -- Guide your life so when you're not adventuring, your living expenses are 50% of your gross income not including savings, taxes and education. Difficult but not impossible for most people to do. It's simply a question of focusing your finances on what counts and not spending money on things that don't matter. If you currently don't live with a written budget that is updated more than once a month then that would be your first step. If you don't have a written budget then when you do, you'll likely be amazed at how much money you waste and squander every month on stuff that doesn't matter.

Get Out Of Debt -- Work your finances so you can have no debt outside the mortgage for your primary residence. This gives you freedom of choice in the future in exchange for not buying on impulse or on time. No car payments, no credit card balance, no student loan balance -- those should go by the wayside.

5% For Education -- Spend five percent of your gross income per year on education that is known to have a specific return to you in higher salary or more job opportunity. This is five percent above and beyond whatever your employer spends on you per year. Every week I update charts that show me precisely and factually what skills are in the highest demand in my field. Then, when it's time to spend my education money wisely, I already have the list of eduction choices from which I can choose -- and from that list I choose based upon what looks interesting to me and can fit into my schedule.

Keep A Car -- Keep a car for 10 years or more. Geez, don't go buying the cool car of the day or the hot car of the day. Research out what car has the least hassle and the most satisfaction from previous buyers who've owned their car for at least one year and make sure you don't buy the first year of a car model or a revised car model. Keep the car for 10 years after you buy it (not necessarily for the first 10 years of the car's lifespan). You will be amazed how much money that will save you -- it'll be thousands of dollars in savings versus buying a car every three years in order to drive the cool car of the day.

Get The Match -- If you're not currently contributing to a retirement plan that has a company match, then you're a fool. Don't you realize the immediate return on the investment you'll enjoy when you contribute to a tax deferred retirement plan that has a company match? It's immense. Work your finances so you can at least contribute to a retirement plan (your company 401k plan for example) that allows you to receive the maximum company match available. Usually this is six percent of your gross salary/wage with a 50% match by the company.

Know What You Want -- I believe this to be one of the most challenging hurdles. There is so much influence by Madison Avenue on your buying habits. What will bring you kudos, what will make you feel good, what will make you cool, what will bring you respect. Most of those types of purchases are complete fluff -- a total squandering of your money. Someone had said, "if thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail is not the number one thing you want to do, then you should stop and go do whatever that number one thing is". Sit down and make a list of the top ten things you want out of life. Wait a month. Then confirm those top ten things by level of importance and order them with the most important item as number one on the list. Now make yourself a plan to accomplish the top three things on your list, make a timetable to accomplish those three things and then execute that plan as your highest priority every day. Just take steps every single day, seven days per week, toward achieving the top three things on your list and you will be amazed at the progress that will accumulate. Much like a thru-hike -- you wake up every day, you put one foot in front of the other. Low and behold, a few months later you're a northbounder entering Maine.

Datto

earlyriser26
04-03-2011, 14:25
Section hike. Life is about choices. Don't know what your situation is, but if you are married or have kids it seems crazy to for a 37 year old to quit a job just to go hiking. Good luck on the LOA, particullarly if it is to go hiking. If you are single and have some savings and think you can find another job without great trouble, go for it. Otherwise, take vacation and go for a week or two. Wait for retirement. I have been hiking since 1969. I section hike 2 to 4 times a year. I retire this year and will do much more, but a thru hike is just one long section.

Trailbender
04-03-2011, 16:51
That's the thing. The social contract between employer and employee has been broken. We think we're doing good by them but they don't owe you anything for all your sacrifice and they truly are more likely to renege on any social contracts, even the ones in writing, than they are to uphold them.


And some companies wonder why a stressed out stockbroker comes back to his place of employment with a handgun. You cannot expect someone to work for your company, sacrifice, literally trade their life, then cast them aside like an empty beercan and expect no consequences.

My dad worked for Bridgestone for 20 years, and crushed 2 discs in his back, the back problems were directly work related, but their million dollar lawyers were able to twist things and he got nothing. That's why I say screw corporations and factory work. I'd rather spend the rest of my life hiking and be broke as hell than make a ton of money doing something I hated.

Trailbender
04-03-2011, 16:58
Section hike. Life is about choices. Don't know what your situation is, but if you are married or have kids it seems crazy to for a 37 year old to quit a job just to go hiking. Good luck on the LOA, particullarly if it is to go hiking. If you are single and have some savings and think you can find another job without great trouble, go for it. Otherwise, take vacation and go for a week or two. Wait for retirement. I have been hiking since 1969. I section hike 2 to 4 times a year. I retire this year and will do much more, but a thru hike is just one long section.

I have to disagree. Nothing wrong with section hiking, but I would not want to wait to retire before I start living my life. I'd rather spend my whole life doing what I want to, than some of it. I know work is unavoidable, but the more frugal you are, the easier this is to accomplish.

DapperD
04-03-2011, 19:34
I have to disagree. Nothing wrong with section hiking, but I would not want to wait to retire before I start living my life. I'd rather spend my whole life doing what I want to, than some of it. I know work is unavoidable, but the more frugal you are, the easier this is to accomplish.Years ago work was much more plentiful. I know for the longest time that work, especially manual labor and tradesman type jobs were abundant. It would of easily been possible to live a nomadic existence (many did) where say a person could be living on the trail and go into town to find odd jobs working for builders, or as store helpers, or doing whatever for some quick money for a week or two, and then be back out on the trail. Today all of that appears to have disappeared, and even menial type jobs, at one time overly abundant and plentiful, have virtually become few and far between and/or disappeared altogether. Eventually a person living a nomadic existence will need money, wether they like it or not.

Trailbender
04-03-2011, 19:40
Years ago work was much more plentiful. I know for the longest time that work, especially manual labor and tradesman type jobs were abundant. It would of easily been possible to live a nomadic existence (many did) where say a person could be living on the trail and go into town to find odd jobs working for builders, or as store helpers, or doing whatever for some quick money for a week or two, and then be back out on the trail. Today all of that appears to have disappeared, and even menial type jobs, at one time overly abundant and plentiful, have virtually become few and far between and/or disappeared altogether. Eventually a person living a nomadic existence will need money, wether they like it or not.


Yeah, I suppose I will find out soon, getting on the trail at the end of April, not sure when I will leave. Probably do odd jobs around, I have construction/handyman experience, and I learn fast. I was in college, came back after my thru in 2010, but I can't get the AT out of my mind, so I decided to live on it.

DapperD
04-03-2011, 19:56
Here are some goals to consider for those wanting to thru-hike the AT and then continue with adventuring as a sizeable part of life.

Live Frugally -- Guide your life so when you're not adventuring, your living expenses are 50% of your gross income not including savings, taxes and education. Difficult but not impossible for most people to do. It's simply a question of focusing your finances on what counts and not spending money on things that don't matter. If you currently don't live with a written budget that is updated more than once a month then that would be your first step. If you don't have a written budget then when you do, you'll likely be amazed at how much money you waste and squander every month on stuff that doesn't matter.

Get Out Of Debt -- Work your finances so you can have no debt outside the mortgage for your primary residence. This gives you freedom of choice in the future in exchange for not buying on impulse or on time. No car payments, no credit card balance, no student loan balance -- those should go by the wayside.

5% For Education -- Spend five percent of your gross income per year on education that is known to have a specific return to you in higher salary or more job opportunity. This is five percent above and beyond whatever your employer spends on you per year. Every week I update charts that show me precisely and factually what skills are in the highest demand in my field. Then, when it's time to spend my education money wisely, I already have the list of eduction choices from which I can choose -- and from that list I choose based upon what looks interesting to me and can fit into my schedule.

Keep A Car -- Keep a car for 10 years or more. Geez, don't go buying the cool car of the day or the hot car of the day. Research out what car has the least hassle and the most satisfaction from previous buyers who've owned their car for at least one year and make sure you don't buy the first year of a car model or a revised car model. Keep the car for 10 years after you buy it (not necessarily for the first 10 years of the car's lifespan). You will be amazed how much money that will save you -- it'll be thousands of dollars in savings versus buying a car every three years in order to drive the cool car of the day.

Get The Match -- If you're not currently contributing to a retirement plan that has a company match, then you're a fool. Don't you realize the immediate return on the investment you'll enjoy when you contribute to a tax deferred retirement plan that has a company match? It's immense. Work your finances so you can at least contribute to a retirement plan (your company 401k plan for example) that allows you to receive the maximum company match available. Usually this is six percent of your gross salary/wage with a 50% match by the company.

Know What You Want -- I believe this to be one of the most challenging hurdles. There is so much influence by Madison Avenue on your buying habits. What will bring you kudos, what will make you feel good, what will make you cool, what will bring you respect. Most of those types of purchases are complete fluff -- a total squandering of your money. Someone had said, "if thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail is not the number one thing you want to do, then you should stop and go do whatever that number one thing is". Sit down and make a list of the top ten things you want out of life. Wait a month. Then confirm those top ten things by level of importance and order them with the most important item as number one on the list. Now make yourself a plan to accomplish the top three things on your list, make a timetable to accomplish those three things and then execute that plan as your highest priority every day. Just take steps every single day, seven days per week, toward achieving the top three things on your list and you will be amazed at the progress that will accumulate. Much like a thru-hike -- you wake up every day, you put one foot in front of the other. Low and behold, a few months later you're a northbounder entering Maine.

DattoAll of this is good advice. And the one about keeping your car for a long time is very much true. If you spend $30000 on a car, and keep it for 10 years, it will still have cost (without interest) $250 a month for ten years. Granted the car makes you money by taking you to and from work if you commute, etc...but still a lot of money. And many of the cars built today don't hold up mechanically for a full ten years without a significant expenditure for maintenance and repair. This is why financially, buying a new vehicle is not really worth it. The average vehicle is not an investment, and unless one has a good, steady job or uses the vehicle to make their money with, not really worth the expensive price tag.

sbhikes
04-03-2011, 20:31
Get The Match -- If you're not currently contributing to a retirement plan that has a company match, then you're a fool. Don't you realize the immediate return on the investment you'll enjoy when you contribute to a tax deferred retirement plan that has a company match? It's immense. Work your finances so you can at least contribute to a retirement plan (your company 401k plan for example) that allows you to receive the maximum company match available. Usually this is six percent of your gross salary/wage with a 50% match by the company.
Oh god yes! Absolutely do this. Do not pass up free money!

I once had a job that made $15 an hour. The company had the match and I took it. I also put in the maximum deduction possible by law. I never noticed the money was missing. I lived frugally. I had enough money to do just about everything I wanted to do. Hiking is a really inexpensive pursuit, ya know! I felt absolutely well-off.

I have an acquaintance who recently got a job at a similar salary. All she does is complain how low-paid she is. She thinks that I'm so terribly rich when I make only a couple dollars more than she does. I asked if she has company matching and she said she does but can't afford to participate. I told her she was a fool to turn down free money. It comes out before taxes. Sometimes it drops you below a threshold and you even get a bigger paycheck. If she took the matching, she'd be making more than I do. I don't even have company matching at the moment. She hemmed and hawed and said she had too much debt and couldn't afford it blah blah blah.

Yeah whatever.

Sorry for the digression, but I guess the morale of the story is that you can maximize what you've been given or you can let yourself slide into a place where you just feel stuck. At some level it really is a choice how stuck you are.

weary
04-03-2011, 22:27
Well, at 28 I had my first useful and fun job. At 38 I had a wife and a couple of very young kids, and a new job, my first that paid enough to reasonably support a family. At 48 I had maneuvered into a job that was both fun and useful to the world at large. At 58 my job was still fun and useful, I thought, but I sensed my bosses had doubts about whether I was useful to them.

But I stuck it out with help from the union, and took a small buyout just shy of 62. I messed around for a couple of years, and just shy of 64 went to Georgia and walked home. Whatever. Now 20 years after retiring, I spend a lot of time on trails in between surgeries and other mishaps, both walking and working (for free). Except for frustrations with moderators and doctors, I have no major regrets.

It's nice to remember from time to time that a few things I've worked on will be around for people to enjoy long after I leave this earth.

All I'm suggesting is that these decisions are never easy, nor is what is good for one, good for all.

tigerpaw
04-03-2011, 23:24
As far as cars go, I have a 1999 Honda Accord with 200k plus, a 1993 Toyota Camry with 170k, and a 1998 Ford Expedition with 220k. Take care of them and they will take care of you.

Walkintom
04-03-2011, 23:26
Seems you're determined to go hiking no matter what. Given that, I think the right thing to do is resign when the time is right and be done with it. Why would you ask the good folks who employ you to work around your dream? At the least, be honest and tell them you're going regardless.

I am indeed determined to hike. However I think it's not up to me to tell the people that I work with whether or not they should grant a leave of absence. The HR policy update for this year says that such requests will be considered on a case by case basis. So I will follow the rules and submit my case for consideration - and make my intentions clear without turning it into an ultimatum. That is why the policy was written; so employees can submit something other than a resignation if they will be absent for an extended period of time not covered by normal attendance rules.

I would really like to be able to come back to my job after we thruhike. If my employer can't see a LOA as an acceptable solution then I will certainly resign and do my best to help find and train a replacement. I would feel worse if I simply resigned and they had to tank some projects than if they choose to not grant a LOA and I resign. This way I am giving them the power of choice over the situation. That's where my ethical compass points, anyway.

Datto
04-04-2011, 14:18
Planning Tools

There's an adage in my world that says, "Money, time, scope. Pick two."

Since before my AT thru-hike I've used three specific tools to handle the questions about money, time and scope when planning my life and my adventures. Although I'm a planner type, I'm not a meticulous planner -- I do intense planning one time a year or once every two years, then periodically I'll make small course corrections and add new information and decisions to my plan as that information becomes available.

How good has it been for me to have done things this way? I've taken five significant multi-month adventures in the last ten years and each has been loads of fun and been worth the effort and cost. I've done well in my career from choosing wisely on career paths and efforts -- I am diligent about my career choices but also, I enjoy my career choice so I have fun pretty much every day. Having fun every day is extremely important to me and I've been successful in having fun regularly. Plus, I get paid to do fun things and that sure is the icing on the cake. Do I work a lot? Sure, 10/7/365 but it's voluntary and I've found it wouldn't matter if it was this career or another, that is just the way I am -- I enjoy working. It's fun.

I'd say the last 10 years has been the best 10 years of my short life.

Onto the tools. The tools I use, and the purpose of the tools, is this:

Microsoft Word (you can use OpenOffice for this which is free): This outlines the choices and the options and is a summary of the scope of what I have coming up in the future. I start with a Word document in outline form that has these headings: Financial, Family, Social, Spiritual, Career, Health, Community, Other. Everything in my life fits into one of those eight basic categories. From there I start detailing things out on each of those eight basic categories -- what is important to me in those eight areas of life. Some of those individual categories may be more important to me than others and those are the categories I spend the most time detailing out what and how I'm going to achieve what I want out of life in those categories.

Microsoft Excel (you can use OpenOffice for this which is free): This outlines the upcoming costs for the choices I've outlined with Microsoft Word. This information is included in a spreadsheet because I may regularly play "what if" games and I need a method to make changes quickly (quickly meaning less than a minute or two) and see the financial results of those choices. Excel is a perfect tool for that role. For instance, I may choose a different direction on a long-distance hike (north or south or east or westward) and need to see the cost difference between those two directional choices. Also, after my AT thru-hike I realized how significant the pre-hike and post-hike costs are for a long-distance hike -- for me those are 50% or more of the total cost of a long-distance hike. If I know the big picture on costs, I can better deal with those costs in financial preparation and time choices for an adventure and not become prone to panic about finances.

Microsoft Project (you may be able to use OpenProject for this): Project deals with time and the sequence of events. It shows the sequences of what you're intending to do and the duration for the sequences outlined in your Word document. It puts a timetable to "The Plan" which measures your committment to what you've outlined in the Word document (the most important things tend to go first). Time is the part most people forget but it's one of the most valuable assets you own (and yes, you are the sole owner of your time). Plus, having the ability to re-sequence things on the fly gives you much more valuable information about making choices. For instance, I have three new adventures I'm planning to pursue in the next few years. I've outlined an overall sequence for each of those adventures and in the midst of the sequencing it dawned on me after sequencing those adventures that my second and my third adventure could conceivably be combined into a single adventure if that was my choice. Given that my pre-adventure and post-adventure costs are 50% of my total adventure costs, combining two different adventures into a single adventure saves considerable dough in the long run. Also, heh, as new hurdles come up that haven't been foreseen, you can quickly plug those into The Plan and see what actually happens to The Plan -- is it really significant or is it just a slight course correction to take into account the new hurdle.

The real value in creating your own plan is to force yourself to sit down and describe what it is you want out of life. It's very difficult for most people to break out of the daily rut and think big about their life. Rather than just waking up every day to see what happens instead, you have your hand on the tiller to some extent while still having the ability to adjust to the changing landscape. Having "The Plan" in place allows you peace of mind if you're wanting to pursue big things that have significant risk involved -- like having fun hiking a long-distance trail.

Datto

Grimelowe
04-04-2011, 14:53
I'm 37 and have had the same career for 15 years. Being that I'm not just out of high school or college, I'm wondering how others have worked out being able to take 5 or 6 months off from work to thru-hike the AT. Any ideas or stories?


I'm 36. Worked for the the same company for 15 years. I plan to work there another 20. I'm taking a 150 day LOA to hike the Appalachian Trail. I've got a wife, two teen-aged kids, two dogs, a house and all the other trappings of suburban life. I start at Amicalola in 10 days...

I'll let you know how it works out.

-Grimey

ScottP
04-05-2011, 20:27
just a word to think about....might want to become a citizen of Canada/Australia if you want to be a hiker bum. Not having health insurance in this country is a nightmare.

Trailbender
04-06-2011, 02:49
just a word to think about....might want to become a citizen of Canada/Australia if you want to be a hiker bum. Not having health insurance in this country is a nightmare.

Yeah, odd that something as basic as healthcare isn't universal. I think hospitals have to treat you, though, whether you can pay or not. Fortunately, or not, I am covered by the VA, which should help.

blitz1
04-06-2011, 05:23
Yeah, odd that something as basic as healthcare isn't universal. I think hospitals have to treat you, though, whether you can pay or not. Fortunately, or not, I am covered by the VA, which should help.

If it's a life threatening emergency they have to treat you, but if it's not immediately life threatening, they have the option to transfer you somewhere else, or simply decline to treat you. I recall a time a guy who'd been stabbed in the back with a screwdriver was transferred from the private ER where an ambulance took him to the city hospital, with the screwdriver still in place. hey, he was "stable". different hospitals and clinics have different policies but in general, the private ones try hard to avoid giving free care.

Trailbender
04-06-2011, 10:23
If it's a life threatening emergency they have to treat you, but if it's not immediately life threatening, they have the option to transfer you somewhere else, or simply decline to treat you. I recall a time a guy who'd been stabbed in the back with a screwdriver was transferred from the private ER where an ambulance took him to the city hospital, with the screwdriver still in place. hey, he was "stable". different hospitals and clinics have different policies but in general, the private ones try hard to avoid giving free care.


Yeah, that sucks. They should remember that they became doctors to heal and treat people. Healthcare in this country is a disgrace, and an expense that is too high for most people. Out of curiosity, I looked up some healthcare plans. I am a 31 year old, very active nonsmoker, and they were all really expensive and had huge deductibles. Someone is not worth more just because they are rich, maybe we will figure this out one day.

DapperD
04-06-2011, 10:45
If it's a life threatening emergency they have to treat you, but if it's not immediately life threatening, they have the option to transfer you somewhere else, or simply decline to treat you. I recall a time a guy who'd been stabbed in the back with a screwdriver was transferred from the private ER where an ambulance took him to the city hospital, with the screwdriver still in place. hey, he was "stable". different hospitals and clinics have different policies but in general, the private ones try hard to avoid giving free care.


Yeah, that sucks. They should remember that they became doctors to heal and treat people. Healthcare in this country is a disgrace, and an expense that is too high for most people. Out of curiosity, I looked up some healthcare plans. I am a 31 year old, very active nonsmoker, and they were all really expensive and had huge deductibles. Someone is not worth more just because they are rich, maybe we will figure this out one day.What they "should" do unfortunately is not necessarily something they will always do. There are other issues involved which cause problems in the healthcare industry that cause this reaction. Part of the problem from what I understand is the very high malpractice insurance these doctors and healthcare practitioners must pay for. When people sue for malpractice, you are talking big money and if they win and these insurance companies pay big settlements, the cost of the insurance becomes unaffordable. When and if a hospital itself is sued, they could wind up closing down, as many have and are. So there is a problem with the healthcare industry in this country. I feel that for anyone born and raised here, there ought to be free quality medical care available to them, however this is not the case. I believe Portugal for example is one country that gives free healthcare to it's citizens. If they can do it, it is sad that we can't/won't:-?.

Thenixon
04-08-2011, 08:26
Just to add my own experience: I was thinking about quitting my job for my thru for a variety of reasons, none of which were really enough to get me to leave or apply elsewhere until the AT bug struck. As a parting shot of goodwill towards my employer, I decided to apply for a 6-month LOA first. I didn't expect it to go through, and as my start date approached, nothing was heard by myself or my boss from the powers that be. Finally, my hike start date looming, I gave notice of my resignation. At that point, somehow my approved LOA request shook loose. I didn't know what to do, but eventually decided to take the LOA. When I talked to the HR department, I found they'd approved leave for AT-hiking before. I also found out that per company policy, they'll continue covering my medical benefits for four months - a huge savings over COBRA. When I get back, the company may not have a spot for me - but I might not have a spot for them either. Either way, if I want to I can validly claim that my employment with them continued until that point - so no gaps to explain on the resume if I don't think a new employer wants to hear about my hike. Overall it was a good idea to try for the LOA. I was in a 'nothing to lose' situation, in that I was thinking about quitting to make time for the hike, but I ended up gaining a few things by having the audacity to tell my boss I wanted half a year off to go for a walk. The fact that they approved it and have been so helpful/supportive has me thinking twice about moving on to another company when I return. I'm 29, with 4 years at my current employer, for reference.

skooch
04-08-2011, 08:59
I've been a dental hygienist for 18yrs and need a serious break from the world. Have been with my current employer for over 6yrs and love him. Best boss ever. Well when I told him I need 6mos off for a thru he just couldn't swing it financially and I don't want to quit. So he compromised with 3mos but I have to take it in the summer while his business is slow. Better than nothing. Now I'm working on convincing him to extend my sabbatical so I can flip flop :)

Trailbender
04-08-2011, 09:03
I've been a dental hygienist for 18yrs and need a serious break from the world. Have been with my current employer for over 6yrs and love him. Best boss ever. Well when I told him I need 6mos off for a thru he just couldn't swing it financially and I don't want to quit. So he compromised with 3mos but I have to take it in the summer while his business is slow. Better than nothing. Now I'm working on convincing him to extend my sabbatical so I can flip flop :)

Don't do it, the AT will suck you in, and you won't be able to think of anything else. I did my thru last year, got back in college, and did badly. I basically quit college with only a year left to get on the AT again. I leave at the end of this month. Sold or disposed of all my stuff except backpacking gear, giving this computer to a friend before I leave, and selling my car. I don't care about anything anymore but being out there. I spent months agonizing about this decision, just dropping out of school and living on the AT. Crazily enough, I feel like I made the right choice.

Derek81pci
04-10-2011, 07:43
My thru is going to be NOBO in March of 2012. The way I see it (as a single guy with no kids, and I rent my house from a childhood friend) I wa slooking for a job when I found this one. I do like where I work, and they are really cool about stuff like this, so we'll see!