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  1. #1
    Registered User Brewerbob's Avatar
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    Default How are you funding your hike?

    So, I want to do a 2016 thru hike. As the time gets closer, I'm not saving a lot of money. It's more fun spending it on other travels. That aside, are you having to fund a life off the trail while you are on the trail? And if so, how?

    I'm soon to be divorced. The ex-wife is moving out of the house and I'm moving back in. Maryland requires a 1yr separation. So, I'll save $975 a month on rent but I'm still spending $2200 a month on mortgage. The house is upside down and can't be sold for what is owed. Besides that, my daughter is still living there. She's got a job (FINALLY!!!) but certainly isn't making enough for a place of her own. My son is moving with the ex-wife.

    I've got just about all of my gear. I don't have a head lamp or bear canister yet. Maybe another low dollar item here or there but gear is basically covered and not part of the formula. The big three are good to go and have been field tested numerous times. Even clothing is mostly purchased. Some remains untested but the majority is good to go. The kitchen is sorted and works to my liking. I could even dehydrate meals tho I don't think I want the hassle of drop shipping. I might do a week's worth for the start and maybe a week's worth when doing clothing changes at the seasons.

    The car is doing its best to die tho I keep bringing it back to life. If it does go belly up, I have a backup car (that also needs work) but is essentially covered. I'm not making any car payments and would like to keep it that way for the near future (thru to the end of whenever the hike happens).

    Work is the "biggie". I don't think I'll be able to take a leave of absence. I'm not emotionally attached to the job. I don't like my career much (Quality Assurance Engineer ~ I watch other people work). I like the people and the location isn't too bad. I am attached to the income tho. Quite simply it pays the bills and there's enough left over for some weekend travels.

    It's been awhile since I checked on the costs of doing a thru hike. I know it's very much up to the individual but lets assume buying food and a zero day (hostel/hotel) once a week. Last time I looked people were say $3500~$5000 for a thru hike. The problem is I don't remember if that was with or without gear costs. Since it's been a few yrs since I researched that, I'm going to assume that's just trail costs (food/lodging and not gear). And because it's been awhile I''l go with the high end for inflation. That said, I'll need...

    6 month * $2200 + ~$200 for the electric bill + $5000 + $100 phone bill. Holy crap!! That's $20k.

    Not sure I can do that even with raiding the 401(K). Getting laid off would add $1600 a month in unemployment benefits but that isn't very likely. Selling the house would definitely help. Going back to my apartment at $975 is way more betterer than $2200 a month. Ugh. I don't want to wait until 2017 for a thru hike but it might be the smarter thing to do.

    Thx for listening to me ramble out loud. And more so if you have any advice to give.

  2. #2
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    You have succinctly summarized why there aren't that many folks in their 40s and 50s doing thru-hikes.

    Seriously, folks our age usually have committments, like a mortgage and all the associated housing costs, kids in college or just out, etc., that make a thru-hike much more expensive than just the on-trail costs. Kids in their 20s usually don't have housing costs (though a lot have student loans), and retired folks have paid off the house, so you see a lot more of them on the trail.

    Note that none of this is advice, just musings.... If you can sell the house, and move into a rental apartment, you can get out of the apartment during a thru (put your stuff in storage, it's cheaper than an apartment). That cuts your rent and all the utilities to zero. Or have your kid live there while you're gone and pay most or all the bills. But you have to sell the house for enough to pay off the mortgage, tough to do in some places.

    I would be very leery of taking a loan from my 401K to fund a vacation, which is what a thru-hike boils down to at its essence.

    Good luck figuring it all out. It sounds like you still have your sense of humor about the situation.
    Ken B
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    Our Long Trail journal

  3. #3

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    Doesn't sound like you should be doing a thru hike or quitting your job. Raiding your 401K is a very bad idea.

    Instead you might be able to swing a long section hike of 4 to 8 weeks. There are many advantages to doing this like being able to pick the ideal time for a given section, it costing significantly less, less wear and tear on the body and long enough to feel like you've done something.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  4. #4
    Registered User Brewerbob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigcranky View Post
    You have succinctly summarized why there aren't that many folks in their 40s and 50s doing thru-hikes.
    I know right? But by the same token, there seems to be a fair number in their 30s which doesn't make sense either. Unless they are making career changes before they get in too deep in a boring/dead end career.

    Seriously, folks our age usually have commitments, like a mortgage and all the associated housing costs, kids in college or just out, etc., that make a thru-hike much more expensive than just the on-trail costs. Kids in their 20s usually don't have housing costs (though a lot have student loans), and retired folks have paid off the house, so you see a lot more of them on the trail.
    Damn all the kids!! Both the ones in their 20s doing the kid and the ones that are surfing couches at home!! I can't get either of mine do go further than an extension cord. Youth is truly wasted on the young.

    Note that none of this is advice, just musings.... If you can sell the house, and move into a rental apartment, you can get out of the apartment during a thru (put your stuff in storage, it's cheaper than an apartment). That cuts your rent and all the utilities to zero. Or have your kid live there while you're gone and pay most or all the bills. But you have to sell the house for enough to pay off the mortgage, tough to do in some places.
    That is the ideal situation there. Get the house sold over the winter. I do need to take another look at the balance verses value. Each month is another ~ $1100 towards the principal. I wouldn't even mind selling it at a small loss as long as I could pay off that loss in small amounts over time. But there would be no collateral so it would have to be a personal loan and those are usually +8%.

    I would be very leery of taking a loan from my 401K to fund a vacation, which is what a thru-hike boils down to at its essence.
    My retirement account isn't going to be used for retirement. For retirement, I'm going to do it like the old Charles Schwab commercials only with a twist... I'm going to do it the old fashion way; inherit it. My dad has money. Since I'll be splitting it with my brother, I might not be able to completely quit working but I should be able to start a new career and no worry so much about starting over on the pay scale.

    A new career or no career is a very big concern for me after doing a thru hike. I barely manage to make it to work as is. After 6 months off and the biggest concern is will it rain? Will my camera work when I finally see a bear? I hope the snoring and mice aren't too bad at the next shelter. I'm really not going to want to come back to DoD industry. I can see myself working at an REI long enough to make money for the next hike. Ideally, I'll trade the kids for a small RV, I'll collect aluminum cans and soda bottles while hiking for gas money. I was once offered 50 cents a pound on the hoof for the kids. That was back when they were little and cute. I got greedy and was holding out for $1 a pound. Now no one will take them.

    Good luck figuring it all out. It sounds like you still have your sense of humor about the situation.
    The sense of humor is starting to slip. If I have to put the hike off another yr, the humor will be hard pressed to make an appearance.

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    just do what some other people do-----start a gofund or kickstarter campaign and go on forums and beg people.............


    (just kidding...............sorta)


    ***ducks and run*****

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    Registered User Brewerbob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Instead you might be able to swing a long section hike of 4 to 8 weeks. There are many advantages to doing this like being able to pick the ideal time for a given section, it costing significantly less, less wear and tear on the body and long enough to feel like you've done something.
    That's a VERY bad idea. Mostly because it's not a thru hike. Grumble grumble grumble.

    If I can't get rid of the house and the winning the Mega Millions doesn't pan out, I might just have to go that route. And that will suck. I can't read the blogs without literally getting teary eyed at what I'm missing out on. Both the good and the bad. I doubt even an 8 week hike would be quite the same.

    I need to talk to the manager dude. When I asked him about a 6 month sabbatical (we are both new to the company) he didn't sound very encouraging. He was having trouble getting someone else 6 weeks off. Between now and the end of March, I'll accrue 55 hrs of PTO. That plus my balance if I don't take any time off will get me 80hrs (2 weeks w/ pay) off. Phff, I probably shouldn't have done that math either.

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    sell the house and downsize...............

    big ole yard sale...........


    I've got just about all of my gear. I don't have a head lamp or bear canister yet

    you'll need the headlamp but not the canister for the AT......

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    My retirement account isn't going to be used for retirement. For retirement, I'm going to do it like the old Charles Schwab commercials only with a twist... I'm going to do it the old fashion way; inherit it. My dad has money



    and to be honest----if this is the case, and you know that the will wont change------i say screw it and cash in the 401K and do it..........

    just make sure you are actually inheriting the money.......

    you wouldnt want to do this thru hike, just to come back to find out your dad has written you outta the will...............

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    I can see myself working at an REI long enough to make money for the next hike.



    this is also a good idea--------------because (and ive never worked for REI but just have seen photos of their employees on trips) they will give you time off to do the trail.......

    not sure how long you have to work there to "earn" the sabbatical though.....

  10. #10
    Registered User Brewerbob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    just do what some other people do-----start a gofund or kickstarter campaign and go on forums and beg people.............


    (just kidding...............sorta)


    ***ducks and run*****
    I stop walking and bend over to pick up pennies. Pride is NOT one of my shortcomings. I have many but that ain't one of them. One of them is being up on technology. I'm young enough to know the terms (generally) but old enough that I don't have much clue as to how they work.

    I don't have a problem with the theory. I have a problem with the application. I don't have a problem putting money on the "Save Timmy" jar at the convenience store as long as they are honest. I don't have a problem with flipping someone $5 for their hiking fund either. My problem both on receiving or giving, is how do you make yourself known? There's gotta be 37 bajillion people with their hands out asking for money.

    How = websites, fancy posting, etc.

    And why the duck and run? If you don't support the vagrant lifestyle then don't contribute. That's rather simple no?

  11. #11
    Registered User Brewerbob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    you'll need the headlamp but not the canister for the AT......
    Currently I use a 3 cell AAA flashlight. They are like the mag lights only smaller. They are "heavy" but work. Not hands free unless you're holding it with your mouth which I have become adept at. So I could get by without but the bear canister was required I thought. For the Smokeys I want to say.

  12. #12
    Registered User Brewerbob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    and to be honest----if this is the case, and you know that the will wont change------i say screw it and cash in the 401K and do it..........

    just make sure you are actually inheriting the money.......

    you wouldnt want to do this thru hike, just to come back to find out your dad has written you outta the will...............
    From previous conversations and knowing my dad, I'm fairly certain this is the case. He's kinda old fashioned in roles. As I'm the elder of two, I think I will be the executioner of the will. He's got 4 or 5 houses that he owns near his. They aren't worth much. Seedy side of town, their old, small, and run down. The fanciest of the bunch might be worth $45,000. He's got a bunch of his cronies living in them. If they pay rent, that's great. If they don't, that's ok too. He made special mention of one little old lady. If he should kick the bucket before she does, she allowed to stay in the house she's in until she kicks the bucket. No need to mention that if my brother is going to be in charge.

    He hates most people so he isn't going to leave it to a charity. All I have to do is out-live the cat. As he doesn't currently have a cat, things are looking good.

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    Registered User paule's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigcranky View Post
    You have succinctly summarized why there aren't that many folks in their 40s and 50s doing thru-hikes.

    Seriously, folks our age usually have committments, like a mortgage and all the associated housing costs, kids in college or just out, etc., that make a thru-hike much more expensive than just the on-trail costs. Kids in their 20s usually don't have housing costs (though a lot have student loans), and retired folks have paid off the house, so you see a lot more of them on the trail.

    Note that none of this is advice, just musings.... If you can sell the house, and move into a rental apartment, you can get out of the apartment during a thru (put your stuff in storage, it's cheaper than an apartment). That cuts your rent and all the utilities to zero. Or have your kid live there while you're gone and pay most or all the bills. But you have to sell the house for enough to pay off the mortgage, tough to do in some places.

    I would be very leery of taking a loan from my 401K to fund a vacation, which is what a thru-hike boils down to at its essence.

    Good luck figuring it all out. It sounds like you still have your sense of humor about the situation.
    This is great advice,I don't mean to hijack this thread,but what do you use for an address if you don't have a physical place to live?Like for car registration and tax purposes,what do you put on your license?I am wondering this because my lease is up in april and although I don't plan a thru hike,I would like to spend a few months on the trail....thank You and excuse me for going off subject,but I thought it could be answered easily by someone that knows....

  14. #14

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    Just a few thoughts.

    1. I was in a similar situation as you regarding a possible inheritance. Then my dad said that because I am doing OK and my brother needs it more, my end will be significantly reduced. I figure its dad's is money and dad helped when I was younger and would not hesitate to help me today if I needed it so I have no complaints. As the saying goes, don't count the chickens before they're hatched.

    2. Consider selling the house and moving into a mobile home. A single wide is inexpensive, land and all, and is perfectly liveable even if it impresses no one. It can also leave you rent and mortgage free. I keep this in mind for myself should my retirement situation not pan out as planned (4 years, 10 months, and 3 days to go!).

    3. Alternatively, rent out all or a portion of the house. This can be tricky and being a landlord can be a headache, but with prudence and planning can be a good source of extra income. Especially if you have a friend in a situation where he/she needs to rent a room for only a few months.

    4. Consider hiking other, shorter trails, and saving the AT for your big dream through hike. The Pinhoti in Georgia/Alabama comes to mind, something like 300+ miles. The Long trail is under 300 miles. I'm sure there are others. All very nice trails and hikeable with a few weeks time, rather than a few months for the AT.

    I hope this helps. All the best.

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    Registered User Brewerbob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    this is also a good idea--------------because (and ive never worked for REI but just have seen photos of their employees on trips) they will give you time off to do the trail.......

    not sure how long you have to work there to "earn" the sabbatical though.....
    Crap, really? Man I hate those guys!! I've been to REI many times, even some of the little in-house "classes". I've seen employees that aren't all bubbly happy but I've never seen any that are cranky. I'm sure they are out there but it must take some effort knowing you've only got 87 more days until your next hike, you're getting 37% off store cost, etc.

    I've no idea if their trips are paid for, what the employee prices are, or anything else but no matter what they are, they are better than mine retail.

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    Registered User Brewerbob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paule View Post
    This is great advice,I don't mean to hijack this thread,but what do you use for an address if you don't have a physical place to live?Like for car registration and tax purposes,what do you put on your license?I am wondering this because my lease is up in april and although I don't plan a thru hike,I would like to spend a few months on the trail....thank You and excuse me for going off subject,but I thought it could be answered easily by someone that knows....
    No problem at all. Good question and one I hadn't thought of if I manage to get the daughter off on her own and I'm house free. The way I see it you have 2 options...

    1) Let it expire with the current address. You're not driving anyway. Roll the dice on the drive home that you don't get pulled over. Or talk fast on your feet when you do.

    2) a friend or relative's address?

    Driver's license I don't see as a problem. The mail is the problem. Even without a mortgage, no car payment, no insurance, etc. there is going to be one piece of mail in 6 months that you're going to want/need. Almost everything these days can be done online. Find an old codger that thru-hiked in the '80s and see what they did back then?

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    Hopeful Hiker QHShowoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    this is also a good idea--------------because (and ive never worked for REI but just have seen photos of their employees on trips) they will give you time off to do the trail.......

    not sure how long you have to work there to "earn" the sabbatical though.....
    I worked for REI...

    It's 15 years. Once you've worked at REI for 15 years consecutively, you get a FOUR WEEK paid sabbatical. Then every 5 years after that you get another sabbatical.

    People that leave REI to do extended trips usually just quit on good terms and most times, when they return, REI stores are happy to give them their jobs back.


    The thru-hikers that I've met in their 30's usually fall into 2 categories - they either took leaves/quit from jobs in the tech sector where it's relatively easy for them to find a new job once they're ready to work again or they're still in a place where they haven't settled on a career yet and still live with their folks or in some other arrangement where they don't have a lot of commitments to the trappings of adulthood yet.
    you left to walk the appalachian trail
    you can feel your heart as smooth as a snail
    the mountains your darlings
    but better to love than have something to scale


    -Girlyman, "Hold It All At Bay"

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    Registered User Brewerbob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by perrymk View Post
    Just a few thoughts.

    1. I was in a similar situation as you regarding a possible inheritance. Then my dad said that because I am doing OK and my brother needs it more, my end will be significantly reduced. I figure its dad's is money and dad helped when I was younger and would not hesitate to help me today if I needed it so I have no complaints. As the saying goes, don't count the chickens before they're hatched.

    2. Consider selling the house and moving into a mobile home. A single wide is inexpensive, land and all, and is perfectly liveable even if it impresses no one. It can also leave you rent and mortgage free. I keep this in mind for myself should my retirement situation not pan out as planned (4 years, 10 months, and 3 days to go!).

    3. Alternatively, rent out all or a portion of the house. This can be tricky and being a landlord can be a headache, but with prudence and planning can be a good source of extra income. Especially if you have a friend in a situation where he/she needs to rent a room for only a few months.

    4. Consider hiking other, shorter trails, and saving the AT for your big dream through hike. The Pinhoti in Georgia/Alabama comes to mind, something like 300+ miles. The Long trail is under 300 miles. I'm sure there are others. All very nice trails and hikeable with a few weeks time, rather than a few months for the AT.

    I hope this helps. All the best.
    Dude!! You are right up the street or down the street depending on what year we are talking about from where I lived. I call Tallahassee home even tho I was born in Homestead. For awhile I lived in Mt. Pleasant, FL. Small world heh?

    1) Good point as my brother is a loaf and not as well off. His career is even more lackluster than mine. Data entry for the Dept of Revenue in FL isn't going to net him any big bucks. That's not to imply that I'm a corp ladder climber by any means. I just make a decent living (finally). My dad did ask if I wanted my SC house back. He bought it from me when I moved to MD. My ex neighbor is currently living in it after having his house foreclosed. Worst case I supposed would be my brother gets all the money but I get the SC house back. Needs work (seems to be a theme) but it is paid off. Anyone know if there is an REI in Columbia, SC?

    2) I've no problem with downsizing. A $2200 mortgage sounds like I need to but you've got to figure cost of living. That's a 1560 sq foot house. It ain't the Playboy Mansion. That said I could still downsize. I've lived in mobile homes before both as a child and as an adult. The one my mom had was a double wide and nice even used. Mine was a **** hole (pardon my French) that I gutted and redid. You could stand next to the windows and feel the wind blowing. That's only a problem because THE WINDOWS WERE CLOSED! My son was a month old when we got the hell out of there. Then there was the one that my dad lived in. It defied description. If you leaned the wrong way on the toilet to wipe your ass, there was a very real chance that you'd end up in the basement. As there was no basement it would have been scary nevertheless. The problem with this idea is the selling of the house. I don't know if housing works the same as cars. You can trade in the Dodge Neon that you owe $30,000 on and buy a new car. You get further upside down but they roll owed into the new loan. If housing does the same I could go this route. If not, the house can't be sold until it's a net zero.

    3) Roommates ain't going to happen. I don't know that many people local and with my daughter in the house that would be a little weird.

    4) The 4-8 weeks mentioned earlier would be the John Muir trail or something like that for sure. Last year or maybe the year before I swore off the A.T. even as day hikes. I've already done a bunch of tiny pieces but don't want to make any more of it a repeat than it already will be. There are a couple of 80 mile loops in PA that I'd like to do which would be even cheap than the Muir (or anything out west).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brewerbob View Post
    Crap, really? Man I hate those guys!! I've been to REI many times, even some of the little in-house "classes". I've seen employees that aren't all bubbly happy but I've never seen any that are cranky. I'm sure they are out there but it must take some effort knowing you've only got 87 more days until your next hike, you're getting 37% off store cost, etc.

    I've no idea if their trips are paid for, what the employee prices are, or anything else but no matter what they are, they are better than mine retail.

    REI is consistently named one of the top companies to work for, for a reason. I know a lot has changed (not all for the better) since I worked there, but even as a part-timer, you get great benefits like employee discounts (50% off REI brands, 30% off other brands; 10% off sale/clearance, plus ProDeals, which are usually 50% or more off retail prices). You also get a quarterly bonus based on store performance that is pro-rated based on the # of hours you worked that quarter, so even if you just started, you get a little something. Around Christmastime each year, all employees get a gift from REI and they're usually worth about $100 in value - in the years I worked there, I got a softshell jacket, a polarfleece vest, a travel set (passport holder/travel wallet/toiletry kit/luggage tags), and a daypack. They're all specially made as employee gifts in terms of colors and they're tastefully emblazoned with "STAFF" somewhere. And REI was one of the first companies to offer health insurance benefits to part-time employees.

    You also get discounts off of trips and REI adventures packages. Sometimes, if you can swing it, REI adventures will have empty spots they need to fill on trips last minute (like within a week or two), so if you're able to make it happen, you can go on these trips for less than half the retail price.
    There are also adventure grants you can apply for that will offset part of your trip with either cash or gear (but they're company-wide, so you have a lot of competition). And I can't speak for all stores, but the one where I worked, treated us very well. Often times on busy days, they'd bring in lunch because they knew it was hard for us to take breaks, etc. In the summers, they'd set up a grill in the back, etc.

    So you get all of these perks and honestly, the work is not very hard on the average-joe level. It's not a stressful job (and I worked customer service!) and there's not a ton of responsibility that comes with it. And I thought the pay was great (I think I made like $11/hr as a part time employee and this was 7 years ago, now). But then again, I had a full-time job and was just working there "for fun," so I wasn't reliant on the income. I think I spent most of my paycheck on gear, anyway. You also get overtime for working on holidays, which meant that not only did I get paid at my full-time job, but since I had the day off, I'd volunteer to work at REI that day and get time and a half there as well.

    There are two big downsides to REI:
    #1 is that you have all this great gear at your disposal, you meet great people that share the same interests in the outdoors as you, but it's a retail job, so you're pretty much working every weekend, when you'd rather be playing. Getting a weekend off - especially a holiday weekend - requires at least two week of advance notice and if others have already taken that time off, it may not be approved. Getting time off along with your favorite coworkers so you can go camp/climb/etc. - if they work in the same dept - is almost impossible.

    #2 It's really easy to spend the money you make there on gear. Like REALLY easy. You will buy **** you never even use, just because an offer/prodeal is too good to pass up. There are strict rules on the resale of gear purchased this way - if you're caught selling a pro-deal, you're immediately fired.

    So I would say, if you can get a gig part-time at REI and fund your hike that way, do it. Working 20 hours/week @ $11/hr, means that you'll probably bring in $500 or so a month, after taxes, maybe more. Bank that money and in a couple years, you'll have saved up enough to fund your hike.
    you left to walk the appalachian trail
    you can feel your heart as smooth as a snail
    the mountains your darlings
    but better to love than have something to scale


    -Girlyman, "Hold It All At Bay"

  20. #20
    Registered User
    Join Date
    02-20-2015
    Location
    Bristol, England
    Age
    33
    Posts
    144

    Default

    I've been saving for the past year in a terrible sales job which has burned me out to the point where I need to go on a long walk.

    Worked out quite nicely.

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