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Thread: Thru-hikes

  1. #1
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    Default Thru-hikes

    I'm curious, Ive seen a few posts recently from others about quiting their job to do a thru. How many here actually quit their job to do a thru, and, did you have another job or options lined up for when you were done. I'll have to quit the best paying job Ive had to do a thru next year( I'm also selling my house-no, not just to do a thru).. May have to wait till 05 but I hope not.
    Also, what line of work did you do? I work in a lab handling chlorine and make bleach. I don't have anything lined up,but, I also don't want to do this type of work in the future. Lot's of respons. and dangerous.

  2. #2
    Registered User gravityman's Avatar
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    Default I feel for ya...

    I'm thinking about putting myself in a similar situation.

    When we hiked in 2001 my GF (wife now) and I had just graduated (me from grad school, her from undergrad) and I had a jobed lined up. I was lucking, in that I was looking for a job about 4 months before the job market tanked. I had multiple offers, and was able to get a promise from an aerospace company to take me on in october of 2001 in the exact place that i wanted to live (boulder, co). Well, my wife got injured (Morton's Neuroma - if we had understood it at the time we could have take a month off, gotten insoles, and kept hiking, but we had no idea what was doing it), and we got off in June. When I was on my house hunting trip in august they tried to resind my offer. I told them "NO WAY! I can't find a job in this market!" Luckly my wife's aunt is a laywer here in colorado, and she wrote a nasty letter asking for a couple years worth of salary. They changed their minds. The job has been wonderful, and I LOVE colorado!

    But we want to hike in 2005. I am going to ask nicely for a leave of absence. Women get it all the time to have kids. I'm hoping they will understand, and I won't be in the same situation that I was in that last time. But it can happen. It's a risk worth taking if you ask me.

    We are keeping our house. It's a big monthly payment, but it is worth it to have somewhere to go after the trail. That was the biggest thing when Ball tried to tell me that they weren't going to take me on. We had no where to base out of to find the next job. Would have had to move back with the parents. Not a great prospect.

    Well, good luck. It's totally a leap of faith. But I feel that it is something that is worth it. Who knows, maybe you (and I) won't want to come back to the same line of work. Instead do something like work at a camp, or forestry, or something...

    Gravity Man

  3. #3

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    Im in multimedia in atlanta and i'm cutting all ties next april when I start. I'm an all or nothing kind of guy and i've been in this stupid rat race for over 7 years now and quitting next march will be one of the sweetest things i've ever done. Am I nervous...YES! Might I be making a mistake? Yes...but I don't think so. I could sit on my ass and keep on plugging away at the industry i'm in making a little bit more money each year or let go entirely and try something different after the trail.
    I always lay up and play it safe...not this time.
    Life's too short.
    Focus Determines Reality

  4. #4

    Default quitting my job

    i quit my job, moved out of my apartment, left behind everything i knew and was standing on springer mountain 12 days after i decided i was going to hike. i didn't look back and i didn't look forward. i just took it one day at a time.

  5. #5

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    I took a 9 month leave of absence and used the window after my hike to complete my Undergrad degree after going to school nights for 20 years. I took advantage of an educational leave-of-absence, and was able to retain my health benefits for my entire family for about $50 a month. That's what ya call a loophole. We also made a lot of decisions in the years prior to my hike that put us in the position to do it (sold our house, we were caretaking a friends farmhouse for a song). It was still nearly financial suicide for me, but we survived. Between lost salary and expenses, the hike cost me over $60,000.

    Fast forward to now... I resigned my job of 19 years with Verizon this past April to take a job in the non-profit environment. I finally enjoy going to work, and I'm working on trail issues every day.

    For me it was a process, cause it had to be. Others who are single or are financially independent (or carefree) might be able to do this with a snap decision. That would not have worked for me.

    If anyone wants to email me privately for more info, you are welcome to do so.

    All the best.

    [email protected]
    'All my lies are always wishes" ~Jeff Tweedy~

  6. #6
    Thru-Hiker Grimace's Avatar
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    Default

    I quit with the understanding that if the company still existed when I got back, I could come back. I did.

    My wife was givena leave of absence and her employer even gave us health insurance!!!

    We both worked for small companies.
    Grimace ME->GA '01
    JMT '03

  7. #7

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    The only thing we truly own is time. Do you want to trade it for mere money? Do you want to use it to truly be alive? It's your choice, most people trade it for money, then look back and say "what the blank was I thinking".

  8. #8

    Default

    There's a great book entitled "Your Money or Your Life". If you're looking at reordering your priorities, that might be a good place to start. "Voluntary Simplicity" is another book that might help.
    'All my lies are always wishes" ~Jeff Tweedy~

  9. #9

    Default

    I'm quitting my job to thru-hike. I'm a software engineer and with this tech downturn who knows if i'll be able to get a job when I get back. But, it certainly helps that I have an understanding wife who will continue to work and pay the mortgage while i'm gone. Without that, i'd probably be chained to my job and could not leave.

    Of course, I'm sure she'll call in the debt (and it's a big one) when i get back. ;-)

  10. #10
    Registered User Coosa's Avatar
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    Default

    Dionalaniz, what do you plan to name the little "debt"?

    Coosa
    who couldn't decide if it was a child or a Jaguar.
    My blog, dedicated to my Dad: Chasing the Trail
    Proverbs 4:26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.
    Hike Your Own Hike

  11. #11
    Registered User foodbag's Avatar
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    Default

    I too am thinking of packing it all in and going out there once again. I quit a job once already in 1999 (it was a crappy job) and attempted a thru hike, at age 42. Back then I had a wife who was the one who told me to just go do it and stop talking about it! I still paid my share of the bills while I was gone so there was no "debt" to call in.

    I made it just shy of Pearisburg, VA before I dropped off due to my feet. Since then there hasn't been a single day when I haven't thought about getting out there and doing it again (armed with orthotics this time). The lure of the trail is almost overpowering!

    So here it is 2003, I'm 46, I no longer have a wife (I guess she got tired about hearing about the A.T. 24/7 LOL) and I am poised on the edge of indecision. Shall I quit the best paying job I have ever had and give it another try, or sit here and read about eveyone else who is planning to do it, until I reach retirement? What about health insurance? What about finding another job afterwards? Aargh, the little voices LOL!

    Blue Jay is right about the value of time. I just need somebody to give me a jump start....

    PS. Any over the hill geezers who are planning on quitting their jobs want to go in on buying a hostel on the A.T. somewhere after we're done???
    Long-distance aspirations with short-distance feet.... :jump

  12. #12
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    Cool

    It's JUST money. You can ALWAYS get another job. Get your ass on the trail!

  13. #13

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    Every time I've done a long hike, I quit my previous job and trusted that I would be able to find something new when I returned. Usually, that works. Sometimes it was a while before (a) I was ready to get back into the 9-5 grind,
    (b) I found something I wanted to do.,
    (c) after my third long hike, I couldn't even get anyone to interview me. The gaps in my resume looked too ominous. When I started to get desperate, I went to an agency and explained the situation and got a job the next day.

    I think most thruhikers hike without having the security of a job to go back to, though not always. Many thruhikers are at transition points in their lives anyway - sometimes just out of school or the military or retired, sometimes unhappy with their jobs or marriage, sometimes just ready for a complete change, and figuring that now is a good time to start that process. Sounds like that is where you fit in.

    One important consideration when planning finances for your hike is that you may not be willing or able to go back to work right away. Save enough to cover a couple of months living expenses when you get back. It is really hard to jump back in to the bs of normal life after spending several months on the trail.

    When my husband took off on his first hike, he took a 'leave of absence' but was told that if he actually was gone for six months, the job wouldn't be there when he returned. I think they expected him to be back in a month. Sure enough, when he finished his hike and went back he was told, "Sorry, we filled your job." Not a problem, since he had been burned out on the job before he left, that was part of why he went for his hike. But it took a long time before he found another job. In his field jobs were very scarce for a while. Even so, a few years later, he quit again and went for another long hike. We knew that financially there would likely be repercussions, but it was worth taking the risk in order to do what we needed to do. And, eventually, all worked out extremely well. Our retirement accounts are a bit sparse, but we have memories that are worth every can of cat food we end up eating when we're old ;-)

  14. #14
    Registered User gravityman's Avatar
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    Default Line of work?

    I'm curious what line of work you both are in?

    I'm in aerospace. It'll be interesting to see what my company says when the time comes. I hope they will be cool with it. I see a lot of people that have left and come back. They left for other jobs, but I don't see a big difference there. My only fear is that I will end up on a project that will insist that I'm needed to make it happen, and if I leave it will all fall apart. In that case I might piss people off if I leave. So I am already safeguarding against that...

    Gravity Man

  15. #15

    Default

    When you get back DO NOT mention that you were hiking during that time period. You were "self employed" (make something up). To Corporate America it would be better if you murdered someone and were in jail, than doing something unrelated to greed and money. At least if you were in jail you were forced not to have your nose to the grind stone. I make a point not to lie to humans but immortal corporations lie to us all the time, in fact to them it is an art form, so feel free to return the favor.

  16. #16
    Registered User gravityman's Avatar
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    Default Hmmm...

    I disagree with that. Both my wife and I have had positive feedback when applying for jobs (me before my hike, her after). It tends to start the conversation on a common baises. Of course there is the occasional befuddled look, but then you get to explain. In fact, you might even want to put it right there on your resume to explain the gap. But I've never had a bad response to our hiking. I think that most companies do get that. And besides, in this economy, there are now a lot of people out there with a 9 month hole in their resume.

    Gravity Man

  17. #17
    Registered User squirrel bait's Avatar
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    Default

    I work for two sisters. One is a vice president of a small insurance company where I have to put in 32 hours a week. The other owns a fine dining establishment and I do the off premise catering. Come spring its north bound. They say the jobs will be there when I get back, so be it. I have no idea what really to expect but if it's half as much fun as planning then I'm all about it. Lil redmg sent me an excellent soda can stove and it's going to get used. Go for it. Pack it, hoist it and hike. Good luck.
    "you ain't settin your sights to high son, but if you want to follow in my tracks I'll help ya up the trail some."

    Rooster Cogburn.

  18. #18
    Registered User gravityman's Avatar
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    Default What area do you work in?

    Tracey M : What area do you work in? I think that most companies realize that people can leave them at any time. They have learned to expect some degree of job hopping from their experience in the late 90s. I believe that they would be happy to see someone come back, as there is very little training for them to do. That's they way it is in my company. Sort of that "the devil you know" attitude when it comes to hiring people back. But it all depends on your relationship with the hiring manager. If you left the impression that you abandoned them, then your chances are not nearly that good. Also depends on how highly skilled you are. I know someone that left here for a startup company with 2 days notice. The hiring manager swore he would NEVER hire her back. Sure enough, she's back working here after the company went south.
    Also, a lot of people take 9 months off to have a kid. Or even a year or two. No one questions that. Of course, I haven't ever tried to leave and then come back. But once you have the foot in the door, its a lot easier to get it to swing back open.

    Of course there are plenty of situations that I can see where you simply can't get your job back. But there is always another employer, and you should be prepared for that situation, with emergency funds to back that up. It's probably possible to take 9 months to a year to get a job now. That's a lot of extra funds you need to feel safe hiking...

    Gravity Man

  19. #19
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    Default

    As an information technology executive, I do quite a bit of interviewing. I would be more inclined to appreciate a 6-month gap in employment taken to fulfill a life goal more than a résumé that has the person suddenly starting up their own consulting firm (which typically means they couldn't find a full-time job).

    Of course, having a second or third extended gap in employment would get me thinking that the job is probably low on this person's list of priorities.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  20. #20
    Registered User gravityman's Avatar
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    Default There you go...

    Straight from the horses mouth! Now you know who to email if you need a job in information technology too!

    Of course kerosene is also a hiker, so I guess that is not so fair...

    Gravity man

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