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  1. #1
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    Default Thru hike planning issues

    Hi everyone! Im trying to plan a thru hike for 2015 but Im having a few issues. Im finding it difficult to plan for taking a semester off, the GRE, and getting enough job experience for grad school. Does anyone out there have advise or past experience with planning a thru hike while in college?

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    No easy answer, everyones situation is different and unique. The two best options are 1) do the hike before starting collage and get it out of the way or 2) do it after collage and before you move on to other things. Otherwise, you might have to wait until you retire in 40 years.

    It might be possible to squeeze a thru hike in between the start and finish of your education, but it would be a squeeze.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    No easy answer, everyones situation is different and unique. The two best options are 1) do the hike before starting collage and get it out of the way or 2) do it after collage and before you move on to other things. Otherwise, you might have to wait until you retire in 40 years.

    It might be possible to squeeze a thru hike in between the start and finish of your education, but it would be a squeeze.
    This is exactly what I am afraid of....
    Smile, Smile, Smile.... Mile after Mile

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    First off. Welcome to Whiteblaze!

    Second, can you provide a bit more info? Your profile says you're 18 which would mean you're probably a senior in high school now and planning to start college in the fall. But the way you describe your situation in your post, you sound like someone a bit further down the line who is getting ready to start grad school. Which is it? Slo's got the right idea to do it before college. That's tricky since in my case I spent that whole summer working to save up money for my first year. Then working every summer after that to keep paying (defraying really) the next 3 years. I graduated without a penny to my name which would have made spending 3-5k on a thru pretty much impossible without working first.

    Unfortunately, I don't have a recommendation for you. Everyone's circumstances are unique (as Slo also said) and it's very hard to give you solid advice with so little information, let alone not being you Maybe with a bit more data we can at least give you some general recommendations.
    2,000 miler. Still keepin' on keepin' on.

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    Thanks for replying, and thanks for the welcome FarmerChef! This website is fantastic!

    Im just finishing my freshman year, but I going to finish school in another two years, which is why I have to factor in the GRE. I have some money saved up, but I do need another year to save up the rest. Unfortunately, both options Slo-go'en mentioned are not possible for me; I already started school, and Im going back to school the May after I graduate. I guess there really is no easy way, but I'm pretty determined to do the hike before I finish school. Maybe I'll have to do it in two section hikes. . .

    Side note: I think I read someone's trail journal which mentioned you, Slo-go'en. I sometimes forget that trail journals aren't fiction!

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    Registered User FarmerChef's Avatar
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    In that case, I might recommend two long section hikes. Given the usual spread between Spring and Fall semesters, you could do around 2.5 months of hiking. Over 2 years that would be a 5 month thru hike. Plus, since so many start and decide it isn't for them, you'll have a nice chunk of trail to make up your mind and a long enough time doing it to get the feel of thru hiking. The main challenge to a thru versus a section hike is the mental fight to keep going after all of the oohs and ahhs have fallen off and you're just ready to be done. With section hikes you get to rest in between and wax poetic about how nice it was during that freak thunderstorm that got all your gear wet when your dry bag wasn't closed and ruined all your food while your tent blew down off the awesome summit you were camping on. At least that's what I do

    Seriously though. No, a couple section hikes isn't a "thru" but a "thru" is not the only way to enjoy the trail. You can always come back later and thru it if you really want that experience and feel strongly enough about it to quit work or ask for a leave of absence. I can't wait to finish my section hike this summer (hopefully) and then come back to thru it many times when I'm retired. There's more to experience than can fit into one thru hike, that's for sure.
    2,000 miler. Still keepin' on keepin' on.

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    You say you will be going back to school in May? When do you get out and how long do you have between semesters? I seem to remember it being between two and two and a half months. Have you given any thought to section hiking the trail? That would give you something to look forward to between semesters. Just a thought

    "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."
    Isaiah 55:12

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    You said that in two years you can't:

    1. take all the classes you need to graduate
    2. save up enough money for a thru hike
    3. take a thru hike
    4. get enough work experience to get into grad school
    5. take the GRE you need for grad school

    This is quite likely true, but it is not your real problem. The problem is that you want things you can't have (that would be everything in the list above). You say that other suggested options "are not possible". I find that extremely unlikely. "Impossible" is a very strong word. It might help to stop saying that your current plan (to finish College in 3 years and start grad school immediately) is your only possible course of action. It would be better to say that this is what you have decided to do. Make your decisions based on what is most important, be happy with that decision and accept the implications. If the implications are not acceptable, then change your decisions or assumptions.

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    Odd Man Out, you're right. I can't have all of the things I mentioned, and I am figuring out how to prioritize what I need (or want) to do. I appreciate you're advise, and I will try to consider my future plans as more plastic. My intentions for this post were mostly to see how other students took a thru hike while in college, although it sounds like not many people have done that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolve View Post
    Odd Man Out, you're right. I can't have all of the things I mentioned, and I am figuring out how to prioritize what I need (or want) to do. I appreciate you're advise, and I will try to consider my future plans as more plastic. My intentions for this post were mostly to see how other students took a thru hike while in college, although it sounds like not many people have done that.
    You might find quite a few who have arranged it. Stretch your plan by just one year. One extra semester of classes with time to earn $ and take off the other semester to hike (either Winter semester and hike NOBO (early start, finish by Labor day) or a fall semster (SOBO, finish by Jan 1). I am a professor at a University and we have plenty of student who take a semester off for one reason or another, but there are very few who finish in 3 years and start grad school the next day. Safe none of them did a thru hike.

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    Wolve, what's the hurry? I'm an old man (61) so I have no authority to preach to a youngster. It took me seven years to get my BSEE degree, and I never did do grad school. Part of what I did during those out years was a seven month trip through Europe, on money I earned and saved as a sales clerk in an electronics/hi-fi shop. Thank goodness I didn't know about the AT at the time or I'd have never made it through college. I don't do anything in the proper, linear fashon.

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    I am a senior in college now but will be graduating this coming December. i am in the planning stages of my thru hike for 2015, but the best advice I can give you for a college student is going to piggyback on what Slo-go'en said. I am taking the LSAT this fall and applying for law school...while I hope to be done before law school would start in August, I am taking my acceptances(if that happens...) and deferring my enrollment one year. Most grad programs will have a similar way to do this, where if you are accepted, you can pay a fee that will hold your spot for one academic year.

    That's my plan of action, at least. Hope it helps a bit.

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    Everyone has given me great advise to consider. I never really planned to graduate in three years, it just worked out so that I have enough credits to do it. However, it may be wiser to take another year. I will have to give it some thought.

    Quote Originally Posted by wtrenda View Post
    I am a senior in college now but will be graduating this coming December. i am in the planning stages of my thru hike for 2015, but the best advice I can give you for a college student is going to piggyback on what Slo-go'en said. I am taking the LSAT this fall and applying for law school...while I hope to be done before law school would start in August, I am taking my acceptances(if that happens...) and deferring my enrollment one year. Most grad programs will have a similar way to do this, where if you are accepted, you can pay a fee that will hold your spot for one academic year.

    That's my plan of action, at least. Hope it helps a bit.
    That seems like a solid plan to me. I didn't know that any universities would let you hold a spot for a year. That is really useful information, thanks!

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    As someone who pays for everything myself, attempting a thru hike has been impossible for me until now (I'm 24). Here's my advice that you should take with a grain of salt.


    I actually regret going to university because I don't want to work in the field that I studied, so I'm in debt now for a not so good reason. If I hadn't gotten a degree, I would have been doing a lot more traveling in my life (the past 6 years).

    When you're in school or between semesters, you simply don't have the time to fully commit to doing it in one shot. Even if you're setting a record. You need to prep before and after the the thru as well. Just as important - you probably don't have the funds unless someone is helping you big time. It's expensive and just like preparing - you have to have the funds not only during the thru, but also for the period before and after.

    That includes a place to stay, sleep, store your stuff, money for books, money to generally live/study, etc.

    If you're cutting it close - you don't have the monies or time for it because things can always unexpectedly happen. 2,100 miles is hard enough, don't make it harder by doing it at a time when you have additional problems that can force you off the trail. If you're set on a life direction, fully commit to that and save as much money as you can when you start earning it. Reevaluate after you have seen your commitment through. It simply costs too much to just dip your toes in to test the waters only to back out. When you're doing one thing, do that thing right and to the fullest.

    Best of luck.

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    My advice would be to head out shortly after the Spring semester ends and take the Fall semester off. That would allow you to complete the thru and the time off of school would give you time to get that work experience. I don't know what your semester schedules look like, but I have about 100 days between the Spring and Fall semester, so if you really didn't want to miss a semester you could just hike really fast. lol
    I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list.

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    Are your parents paying for school in full? Are there any loans involved? Keep in mind if you're taking an extended break from school you'll have to start paying back those loans.

    Grad schools start in the fall and it doesn't look good if you took a year off. I'd suggest trying for the deferment. What's your major? How many hours of interning do you have to accomplish? Those are usually done in the summer....

    Also... Grad school is more important than thru-hiking. You might just want to focus on school and thru-hike after. Two years won't make a huge difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sierra2015 View Post
    Also... Grad school is more important than thru-hiking. You might just want to focus on school and thru-hike after. Two years won't make a huge difference.
    ^This. Seriously consider her advice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolve View Post
    Everyone has given me great advise to consider. I never really planned to graduate in three years, it just worked out so that I have enough credits to do it. However, it may be wiser to take another year. I will have to give it some thought...
    Of course school is expensive and getting out early may be a financial necessity for many. Also most discussions about the value of a college education focus only on the cost/benefit analysis of future earnings, i.e. does your college education prepare you for a career where you can earn enough money to pay for it. I am perhaps one of the idealistic few who see that there is an intrinsic value to a good education that can't be easily quantified. As such, rushing through college in three years rather than four, just because you can, is in my opinion penny wise and pound foolish. I'm sure there will be others who disagree. You will have no trouble finding many sources who claim college is a rip-off. When considering these monetary discussions, keep in mind the non-monetary value of your education. This is most often lost in these debates.

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    My son had the same issue. The advice I gave him was to approach a friendly professor and pitch the trail as a means of studying some topic of interest (e.g., sociology - face-to-face societies vs anonymous groups, issues of human endurance, forest ecology - infestations and die back, etc...be creative). Take the independent study for 1 credit and produce a short paper for the deliverable. My son had not only a great trail experience but learned alot as well.

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    Again, thanks to everyone for the suggestions and advice. What I have taken away from all of the different opinions on this page, and the opinions of my family and advisors, is that everyone has different regrets and priorities. While some people have said that they think I should get through school as fast as I can to save money, others have told me that they deeply regret the opportunities that they missed when they were younger (usually travel). I am going to have to think through where my priorities lie, and make my decisions based on that. However, I am sure that I will hike the trail eventually. I have gotten some interesting new ideas from reading the comments here.

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