A Year in Review: AT+1
August 11th marked 1 year since I finished the AT. Even though the last year has gone by in the blink of an eye, I feel like I’ve still been able to push my boundaries quite a bit.
When I got back from the trail, I immediately noticed 2 changes in my day to day life. I was now that annoying driver in front of you who either drove at the posted speed limit or just under it, and I couldn’t stop myself from eating like a hiker (although I did add more fruits, veggies, and milk back into my diet). But within the first couple of months, that was all I really saw differently. I had gone back to my before-trail jobs and was doing the same old things I had been doing before the trail, and it was just as boring as before.
I kept telling myself I was going to find a better, more exciting (nonretail) job, out of my comfort zone and out of my home state (and maybe off the east coast), but winter came and I was still where I was “uncomfortably comfortable”, with no job prospects and no real plan.
By mid January I had decided to at least get another hike under my belt, and figured while I was at it – to make myself more accountable towards my goals – I would quit my full time job and try and find a job while I was on the Long Trail.
It was also around this time that I found out about Big City Mountaineers and Summit For Someone, so before I even left for Vermont I started raising money for BCM and planning my road trip out to the Tetons.
So my new mantra became, “if I don’t find a unique job in Vermont, then I’ll definitely find one while I’m roaming the country!”
These are all things I never would’ve done before the AT. I used to be one of those people that said they were going to do this or that – i.e. quit my job or move to a new state – but never actually end up doing it because even though I was miserable, I was miserably comfortable. And I would’ve made sure I had a good friend in any area I would’ve thought about moving to.
So I made sure I saved up enough money to get me to where I was going to go, but not enough money to get back, and I tried to not worry about where that would be. That way I couldn’t fall back on the old habits of the before-trail-me. I’ve learned enough about myself to know that I can still fall back into the bad habits that old me used to practice.
Over the past year I’ve done quite a bit. I’ve quit a job I was unhappy with, re-hiked the NY, CT and MA sections of the AT, became an LT end-to-ender, climbed Grand Teton, got stuck in a belay device while dangling 30+ feet in the air, road tripped from Connecticut through 16 states to end up in Oregon with just enough money to get by until I get a pay check, got a (sadly retail) job, made some new friends, and provided many hikers (both AT and PCT) some Trail Magic.
I’ve been living with only what fit into my compact car for the passed 40 days and other than the fund shortage (the new job has had a slow start), I’m pretty darn happy.
I’d say that even though I didn’t do everything I had hoped to do in the past twelve months, I did pretty well. The trail taught me a lot, but the one thing I try to make sure is present in my day to day life (besides driving the speed limit), is getting out of my comfort zone by taking the road less travelled.
Here’s to another year of comfort zone busting and maybe another trail (or 2). 😉
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You certainly are challenging the traditional lifestyle of the USA! Congrats Raven on doing what fulfills you.