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Thread: Should I do it?

  1. #1

    Default Should I do it?

    I am seriously contemplating hiking the Appalachian Trail starting this spring. I have wanted to do this for a while and now I have the time. I was attending college as a Junior at the University of Montana this past semester. I got pretty bad grades and now I am back home in Evanston, Illinois living with my parents. I won't be going back to school until after this summer and I feel like this is the perfect time to hike the AT. It is a time of uncertainty, a time when my confidence in myself has been shaken, a time when I am asking myself if this is really all there is to life. School and more school and jobs and work and more work. I'm not saying these are not worthwhile things, but I want to experience life, I want to do something to let myself know I'm alive. I want to prove something to myself. I want to be outside every day in a beautiful environment with beautiful people. I want to make my self uncomfortable, challenge myself and do some soul searching.

    I want to tell my parents about this dream I have, but I am afraid of their rejection. Honestly, if they rejected the idea I would still do it. There is just one thing that is standing in the way...money. I am pretty broke. I have heard that it costs about $4,500 to support yourself for six months of living on the AT. I also understand that the best time to leave is between the months of March and May, May at the latest. I would be hiking NOBO. It is February 1st today and I have about $300 in the bank. This means I need to raise about $4,000 in under 3 months. Does anybody have any advice for how I can do this? I am currently in the job hunt but it is taking too long. I am very anxious to hike the AT. I really do not want to wait another year. This is the time to pursue my dream. Any advice? Should I take out a loan? I really don't want to take out a loan. I would appreciate your thoughts on my situation. Thanks for listening.

    -Beansandrice

  2. #2

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    I probably should have titled this differently. I didn't really have a clear direction when I wrote it.

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    Brother beansandrice... I full heartedly encourage you to pursue your dreams but advise you to do so wisely. When I went to college, I fully committed to it and hated it. There were great aspects in it that I wouldn't trade for anything, but it sucked overall especially considering the debt that you build up if you don't have other people bankrolling you. When I graduated, I reaaaaaallly wanted to do some epic traveling or a simple adventure.

    Nope... worked and saved.

    I'm 24 years old now and still have a lot of student debt, but I also have a decent amount of hard earned money saved up so I can screw off for a couple years if I wanted to.

    It feels really good and there's zero stress on my end. Can't say the same for some of my friends. I give them total props and lots of respect for doing things the way they are doing it. But just ask them - it's brutal and it really sucks when you've got student loans, car payments, rent, and no money even though you have a job.

    Just my 2 cents.

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    Registered User DocMahns's Avatar
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    you're living at your parents so I'm assuming you don't pay rent. You live in a area that's currently getting a lot of snowfall, offer to shovel people's driveways and sidewalks for monetary donations. You can rack up a lot of money shoveling snow, no one else wants to do it.

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    Read this back to yourself --

    School and more school and jobs and work and more work.
    And now this one --

    There is just one thing that is standing in the way...money. I am pretty broke. I have heard that it costs about $4,500 to support yourself for six months of living on the AT.
    Wanting to thru-hike is a worth while dream, and such dreams are worth working and sacrificing for. In my opinion you shouldn't be planning on a thru-hike in three months. With no money and without the support of your parents its not going to happen. But, you have every opportunity to get a job now, contribute to your upkeep, save money and have the opportunity to hit the trail in a year.

    It may mean taking a little more time off from school than you intended. But getting exposed to the real world doesnt hurt either.
    igne et ferrum est potentas
    "In the beginning, all America was Virginia." -​William Byrd

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beansandrice View Post
    I am very anxious to hike the AT. I really do not want to wait another year. This is the time to pursue my dream. Any advice? Should I take out a loan? I really don't want to take out a loan. I would appreciate your thoughts on my situation. Thanks for listening.

    -Beansandrice
    do not (thru) hike until you can afford it. Saw a lot of people tying to hike under budget constraints and it was a hassle. Many didn't make it...in part because the financial worries made the hike not fun. Or they simply ran out of cash. I wouldn't take out a loan to do it either. you will have that hanging over your head. with that being said, if you are living at home with no expenses you could save up enough possibly to do a SOBO if you set your mind to it depending on what kind of work you are qualified for. A few extra months of savings.

  7. #7

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    Thanks for the replies guys. You're right Tuckahoe, I need money and it certainly wouldn't hurt to have my parents approval. I guess I have a lot of time to fulfill this dream and I should wait until I am absolutely prepared. It's not like I have never had a job before. I worked in high school and in college but I've run through my funds. I don't necessarily want to live my life by "should's". I should do a lot of things, but I think that hiking the AT would make me much happier.

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    Registered User Tuckahoe's Avatar
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    Yes, I am sure that hiking the AT will make you happy. And working towards that goal and earning it, will make you all that much more happier. Good luck!
    igne et ferrum est potentas
    "In the beginning, all America was Virginia." -​William Byrd

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    If you have no money, and no means to earn it, your pretty much just dreaming.

    Loans are for people that have the means to pay them back.

  10. #10

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    I'm definitely dreaming...

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    Take a year do small trips a few days at a time get some experience under your belt <if you haven already>, Winter clothing is heading out of season shoppe the sales racks you can get great items for pennies on the dollar, look at consignment shoppe and second hand stores,ask your family or friends. Shoppe food sale and build up a stock pile when the sales are right and money provides if you care to send care pack. As far a family and there approval well there family and they care and are probably going to be worried so you may never have 100% approval. I know with me even with a year + of planing I’m still met with some opposition. Hope that someday some you be out on the trail

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    Please do not waste your money or your parents money at college if you are not 100% committed. It does not sound like you are.

    I also do not think you should plan on a thru-hike that you cannot afford. Perhaps you are hoping your parents will offer some financial support for this? Perhaps they would, I am sure that they love you, but it is time to stand on your own two feet. A loan is a bad idea. Debt is a burden that limits your life choices for as long as you have it. Get a job, save your money, become independent. Success will come from planning and commitment. Make a plan and see it through, even if it means you have to put off your dream of a thru-hike for another year.

    I totally understand your need and desire to 'experience life.' But I also think it important to follow through on your commitments and complete what you start. My suggestion would be to hike, enjoy the outdoors, meet beautiful people and consider the meaning of your life, on your weekends off while you are working to save for your larger life goals. Setting short term reasonable goals that you complete can go a long way to gaining your self-confidence back.

    I worked some pretty sucky minimum wage jobs when I was your age. Those jobs became great motivation for me to do well at school and see my plans through. I highly recommend it.

    Good luck BeansandRice

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    I was in your shoes, hating college & wanting to get out & do something outside of a boring 9-5. I enlisted in the Army for 5 years. You can get job experience in just about anything, you can see the world, & experience things some of your friends would never comprehend. It's not for everyone, but it changed my whole attitude/outlook on life, for the positive.

    Like many have said, don't get a loan just to go for a hike. And I personally would never ask for money from my parents just for a multi-month vacation. Find something you enjoy doing & find a way to make money doing it.

    Best of luck on your decision!

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    Often, people want to thru-hike the AT out of motivations they don't yet understand or admit to! I hear prospective AT thru-hikers, "it's my dream to hike the AT." WHY?, WHY?, specifically the AT I ask? Think about your motivations behind specifically the AT because it seems to me you can achieve ALL these things right in Illinois without having to hike the AT: "but I want to experience life, I want to do something to let myself know I'm alive. I want to prove something to myself. I want to be outside every day in a beautiful environment with beautiful people. I want to make my self uncomfortable, challenge myself and do some soul searching."

    How about thru-hiking the 162 mile River to River TR first in southern Illinois BEFORE heading 100's of miles from where you live, especially since you mention present financial constraints!, to figure out if this hiking, particularly this long distance hiking thing, is something you wish to further pursue?

    Some would do better, and perhaps so in your situation, if they evaluated whether or not they were getting caught up in the larger than life idea of thru-hiking the AT. It does get hyped up around here you know?

  15. #15

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    I already know I love hiking and backpacking, but the longest trip I've been on is 5 days and 50 miles. That is a good alternative Dogwood. I will look up that trail and give it a try. imscotty I agree with you 100% that I shouldn't waste my parents money if I am not committed. This is something I have told my parents and everyone who knows my situation. I am DEFINITELY not looking for their financial help. They have done enough already and I don't want to take anything more from them. They should start saving for their retirement, or for whatever they want to do for the rest of their lives. I knew a loan was a bad idea, I don't even know why I asked. And Likeapuma, my father wouldn't let me join the army. I think you guys are right and the general consensus is that I should keep this as a goal for the future while working to be financially independent. I really appreciate the input. This is a great site and I'm glad I posted on it. Whether I attempt to hike the AT this spring or not, you guys gave me some good perspective.

  16. #16

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    follow your dream, if you really want it, you will do it, NO REGRETS! the things we do makes us who we are , the glass is always half full and half empty to someone. You are you , listen to you! what do YOU want! that should be your answer!

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    I would approach your parents to have them pay. I would explain to them that you have been working hard and that you deserve a multi month vacation. Since they are already supporting you I can't imagine them saying no.

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    I would tell my kid no.
    I would tell them they are either in school of some kind, or they are working full time
    But dont expect me to support you and allow you to play

    Upon college graduation, I likely would pay for it as a gift. Id probably ask to come too.

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    Registered User gollwoods's Avatar
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    have you considered a summer job in a national park or even a resort near a park, gets you out of parents house and earns some money, might make contacts for permanent career who knows, anyways there are seasonal opportunities if desired, without disrupting your track too much. lodges resorts even become a firefighter in a the national forest.

  20. #20

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    Thru-hiking the trail is not easy.
    Doing odd jobs to get the money for the trail would be a lot easier than actually walking it.
    If you can't save the money, chances are you won't finish the trail no matter if your parents approve and help or not.
    Life is priorities.
    What are yours?
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

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