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  1. #1
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    Default Teachers who want to or have thru hiked

    My husband and I were forced off the Long Trail three days away from our finish last summer and we are tossing around the idea of a thru hike in 2019. I never in my wildest dreams pictured myself writing this post because I was nervous about three weeks in Vermont and I have no idea if it's something we could actually do but my question is, are there any teachers on here that have thru hiked or want to? Normally my summers are spent prepping for the following year and partially recouping from teaching 100 plus high schoolers every day but how did your district react to requesting a leave of absence and when did you start and how far in advance did you give notice?

    If we were to do this we would have a very early March start in order to give ourselves time to be back in August. I know most people who start begin in April but that would have us potentially finishing toward end of September or there about , which won't work because it's a new school year. Last year when I mentioned to my principal (who thinks hiking is awesome) about hiking the Long Trail, he said it sounded amazing and if I ever 'wanted to do something longer he could talk to our superintendent about a LOA". No clue if they would ever approve it so I'm wondering what others' experiences have been.

    Thank you in advance...!

  2. #2

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    Starting in early March does not ensure you finish early. Daylight hours are still a little on the short side and weather can have a big impact, slowing you down or forcing you to take more zeros to avoid it. Plus your packs will be heavier due to the warmer gear you need in terms of clothes and sleeping bag. March has a somewhat higher attrition rate then those who start later in better weather conditions.

    Depending on exactly when you need to be back in August, starting on April 1st still gives you 4, 4.5 months, which is a little faster then the average time for a thru hike, but still manageable if you don't goof off along the way. And if you are running behind, you can always skip ahead and avoid some of the drudgery between PA and Vermont.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    I hear you on the weather stuff but I have to return to work by August 30th. I wouldn't feel good about pushing the ending date SO close to when work begins for us especially given the prep work that goes into the year ahead. Maybe even middle of March would be better than March 1st. I would hope to be back the third week in August at the absolute latest.

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    Does your district do sabbaticals? You may be able to tie this in to the subjects you teach. In any event your district may be more than happy to give you spring semester off. Most places are short on teachers and will want you back.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  5. #5

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    Sounds like a bit of a rush to me....If you are a full time teach then you have EVERY summer right?? So why not slow it down, turn it into a more relaxed 4 year section hike. Doing about 550 miles a summer. This way you get a good long hike in, while it not effecting your job, and still having time to plan for the following teaching year.
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  6. #6
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    While in theory that sounds like a good idea of splitting it up, the reality is that my husband and I do want a family. I'm 29 now and while I know people have kids later on in their 30s, we would like to start a family within two-three years. He also would never be able to take off that many entire summers in a row. If we left in the middle of March, that would put us two weeks ahead of the big April bubble and while yes I don't love the idea of March weather on the trail, at least I wouldn't have to feel super rushed. I agree 4 months is a really tight time frame.

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    Does your district do sabbaticals? You may be able to tie this in to the subjects you teach. In any event your district may be more than happy to give you spring semester off. Most places are short on teachers and will want you back.



    I teach high school World History and U.S History to freshmen and sophomores. Like I said in my original post, my principal enjoys hiking and thinks a thru hike is amazing. I have to talk to him about it before speculating further. I was just curious if there were other teachers (I'm sure there have to be) who were able to swing it. When we were on the Long Trail, I met so many people who had LOA from their companies and I always wondered how they went about requesting it. Teaching is just tricky because of how our years work. If I were working for a college/university then I'd say a sabbatical would be feasible but not for regular districts. If the timing didn't work out, I'm hoping my husband could get off a substantial amount of time so we could do some long sections.

  8. #8

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    Most NOBO thru-hiker hopefuls start in March, not April, just in case that makes any difference in your plans. Here is a link to a graph at the ATC website which shows how many have registered their thru-hike intentions with them for 2018 (in won't be significantly different in distribution in 2019):

    http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home...tration-charts
    Last edited by map man; 01-23-2018 at 15:47.
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    This reminds me of a trail encounter I had with a teacher a few years ago. This guy and a friend started south from the AT/Long Trail junction in Vermont after school let out in June. After their 2 weeks were up, they were in Mass. and his friend dared him to keep going to Georgia. He accepted. By early August, he'd made it to Harper's Ferry and called in to leave his 2 weeks notice. I ran into him in early October just north of Hot Springs. He said it was the best decision he'd ever made and he was sure he'd have no trouble finding another job teaching in the spring.
    It's all good in the woods.

  10. #10

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    Well, you got a year to figure this out. At worse you can skip part of the trail. PA would be a good choice What "forced you off the LT"?
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ginabeana238 View Post
    I hear you on the weather stuff but I have to return to work by August 30th. I wouldn't feel good about pushing the ending date SO close to when work begins for us especially given the prep work that goes into the year ahead. Maybe even middle of March would be better than March 1st. I would hope to be back the third week in August at the absolute latest.
    A thru hike can be stressful enough just dealing with the daily nature of it. IMO the trail is much better experienced if you aren't under tight deadlines or financial constraints. How about setting out to finish with the bargain that you'll get as far as you can by a certain date and finish up later if need be? If you really want to see Big K and the Whites you could flip north from somewhere like Williamstown, MA and come finish up whatever if left if you don't make your deadline. I'd imagine you could get it all done except Vermont (which you've seen most of) if leaving in early March and finishing August 30th. If you're anything like the rest of us on this forum, you'll be heading back to the trail anyway. Also, technically you have 365 days to call it a "thru hike."

    Hiking is great but claiming a "thru hike" isn't worth risking real life stuff, because we need real life stuff to pay for our hiking.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by map man View Post
    Most NOBO thru-hiker hopefuls start in March, not April, just in case that makes any difference in your plans. Here is a link to a graph at the ATC website which shows how many have registered their thru-hike intentions with them for 2018 (in won't be significantly different in distribution in 2019):

    http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home...tration-charts
    To go along with this post, The Trek does a yearly AT Stats analysis. I will included a link but if you scroll through the stats you will see a start dates bar graph followed by a Finish dates bar graph.

    https://thetrek.co/appalachian-trail...l-hiker-stats/

    I would think without taking a sabatical it may be hard to fit in a complete through Hike. I waited until I retired as a Principal last Summer so I can Thru Hike in 7weeks!
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  13. #13
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    Start right now and hike all of the AT within ____ miles of your home in NJ. Doing a dozen or more 2-3 day weekends trips, you could knock out a few hundred miles. Then you can skip that part when you do the thru, and you'll have time to finish without being in such a hurry that you can't enjoy the journey.

    Or, if your schedule allows, instead of next March, start even earlier, but not in Georgia. Use the late winter to get a bunch of the lower elevation stuff out of the way, where winter weather won't be so harsh as it is in the mountains. Maybe start in Harper's Ferry or somewhere in Pennsylvania and go south. When you get to Georgia, flip up to HF and go north, or flip to Katahdin and go south. A benefit of this plan is that you don't have to walk those low elevation sections in the summer heat. Instead you'll be up north where it's relatively cool, even in July.

    A thru-hiker doesn't have to go from GA to ME in sequential order. It's your hike. The only one who will care how you do it is you.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by ginabeana238 View Post
    ............ Normally my summers are spent prepping for the following year and partially recouping from teaching 100 plus high schoolers every day ............ Last year when I mentioned to my principal (who thinks hiking is awesome) about hiking the Long Trail, he said it sounded amazing and if I ever 'wanted to do something longer he could talk to our superintendent about a LOA". No clue if they would ever approve it so I'm wondering what others' experiences have been.........
    I had a second career as a high school science teacher. Here are some thoughts. You only have at best 12 weeks off in the summer which would make for a nice long section and then some time to get ready for the new school year. The ATC has or had a web page that broke the trail down into the best parts to hike in different seasons, pick a section that will have reasonably pleasant weather while you are off and hike that section. If you don't get ready for the next school year during the summer will you be playing catch up all year trying to get your lesson plans in order? If so then you may have unpleasant school year (I know I would). A LOA would be great but they will have to hire someone to replace you while you are gone and who knows if you would end up back at the same school after you return the LOA. They might be able to guarantee you a job after the LOA just be sure it is same job you had.
    If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Well, you got a year to figure this out. At worse you can skip part of the trail. PA would be a good choice What "forced you off the LT"?
    Well, goldfish (my husbands trailname) and I were about 35-40 miles out from the northern terminus of the LT. We stopped in town unexpectedly and checked into a b&b that our friend was staying at. after having a really fun afternoon in Johnston, we headed back to our room and to make a very long and painful story short, I received a text from a friend back home looking for my husband because the police were trying to track down my mother-in-law. I spent the next hour calling friends, hospitals, and everyone I knew trying to figure out what in gods name was happening. .

    a woman hit my father in law on his motorcycle and he was killed. Two of our best friends drove six hours from jersey and picked us up and we turned directly around and got home at 7 am the next morning. Needless to say we returned home to a complete disaster and the last time anything felt normal was in the woods in Vermont. It still is surreal to us. M husband was extremely close with his dad.

    the night this all happened we both agreed we would return to finish the rest of the miles. .something iíll never forget as we drove away from the b&b.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    Start right now and hike all of the AT within ____ miles of your home in NJ. Doing a dozen or more 2-3 day weekends trips, you could knock out a few hundred miles. Then you can skip that part when you do the thru, and you'll have time to finish without being in such a hurry that you can't enjoy the journey.

    Or, if your schedule allows, instead of next March, start even earlier, but not in Georgia. Use the late winter to get a bunch of the lower elevation stuff out of the way, where winter weather won't be so harsh as it is in the mountains. Maybe start in Harper's Ferry or somewhere in Pennsylvania and go south. When you get to Georgia, flip up to HF and go north, or flip to Katahdin and go south. A benefit of this plan is that you don't have to walk those low elevation sections in the summer heat. Instead you'll be up north where it's relatively cool, even in July.

    A thru-hiker doesn't have to go from GA to ME in sequential order. It's your hike. The only one who will care how you do it is you.
    My intent (when I have an opportunity, probably in a couple of years) is to start in HF around September 1, headed SOBO - and hike until either it gets cold or November 1. Home for the holidays, then back to HF in April for a "traditional" Flip-Flop start headed NOBO, then flip down to wherever I dropped off the prior fall.

    General overview:
    *Stretch things out (which works better for my situation)
    *Flip-Flop (avoids the bubble, which isn't really my thing - I like people fine, but I don't enjoy crowds.)
    *Most likely avoid REALLY COLD weather
    *Eliminate scheduling pressure in Maine

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ginabeana238 View Post
    Well, goldfish (my husbands trailname) and I were about 35-40 miles out from the northern terminus of the LT. We stopped in town unexpectedly and checked into a b&b that our friend was staying at. after having a really fun afternoon in Johnston, we headed back to our room and to make a very long and painful story short, I received a text from a friend back home looking for my husband because the police were trying to track down my mother-in-law. I spent the next hour calling friends, hospitals, and everyone I knew trying to figure out what in gods name was happening. .

    a woman hit my father in law on his motorcycle and he was killed. Two of our best friends drove six hours from jersey and picked us up and we turned directly around and got home at 7 am the next morning. Needless to say we returned home to a complete disaster and the last time anything felt normal was in the woods in Vermont. It still is surreal to us. M husband was extremely close with his dad.

    the night this all happened we both agreed we would return to finish the rest of the miles. .something i’ll never forget as we drove away from the b&b.
    I cannot begin to fathom such a tragedy, especially in those circumstances.

    Here's to many more happy miles on the trail, may you find your "normal" once again.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by ginabeana238 View Post
    the night this all happened we both agreed we would return to finish the rest of the miles. .something i’ll never forget as we drove away from the b&b.
    Sorry I asked.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  19. #19
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    The teachers and students I met that completed a thru were in great shape when they started and driven. Most were runners with some marathoners and all were solo hikers. Like you, they needed to be back by the end of August. Lucky for them a 3 1/2 - 4 month thru gave them the most daylight hours starting late April making the midpoint of their trip the longest sunlit day of the year.

    Starting between 3/1 and 4/15 makes you part of the bubble. The earlier you start in that group increases the likelihood of running into bad weather in the mountains and heading into town with everyone else creating the bigger bubble you say you’d like to avoid.

    They looked to be enjoying themselves but they also looked like they enjoyed challenging themselves too. If that sounds like you, go for it. If not, weigh it against your current jobs and the timeframe for starting a family. One of your goals may have to be put on hold.

  20. #20
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    thatís quite alright. itís the truth and it has a lot to do with why we want to thru hike. when something like that happens it makes you question everything and realize that thereís more to life than working and paying bills. Thatís not to say i would quit my job and forget responsibilities but it is starting to shift my priorities and think about the fact that my husbands father worked until the day he died at 62 years old and never had a chance to really enjoy anything.

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