I’ve been putting off writing this post for a while now. Partly because I’m still coming to terms with it and partly because I haven’t really decided what my long term plans will be quite yet.

I found out a couple weeks ago, after months of being told it wouldn’t be a big deal, that my job has decided against giving me the leave of absence I was counting on in order to thru-hike. So, I’ve got some big, life altering decisions ahead of me. Regardless of what happens I will still leave to do at least the first month of what should have been my thru. I’ve already got all of the arrangements taken care of and I have a lot of vacation time saved up. So, March 20th I will be starting from Springer.

I so badly want to quit, I’ve been told by every hiker in my life that I should quit, in my heart I feel that that is the right decision but, and there is always a but, I have a very good job with a company that isn’t the easiest to get hired in to. If I quit I’m not likely find another job as good as this one. I could try again in a couple of years when I’m in less of a disposable position (environmental work versus secretarial work) but I’m not sure I want to bank on getting the time then.

And I know that this hike, for me, is kind of a now or never deal. I broke my back a few years ago and it’s only getting worse with time. I’m afraid that if I wait to thru hike till I’m old and retired, my body won’t be physically capable of doing it. That’s a very real possibility for me. It’s practically a certainty.

And then there is always the chance that I won’t want to hike for more than a month anyway. Many people quit in the first month, how am I supposed to know that I won’t be one of them? And do I really want to throw away a good job for no reason?

I guess for right now the plan is to hike for a month, probably as far as Hot Springs, and assess things when I get there. If I’m feeling good about the hike then I probably won’t go back.

This is really a situation that I never thought I would find myself in.


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Comments 11

  • Jonathan Adam : Nov 30th

    1) follow your heart
    2) dip yoga


    • Jonathan Adam : Nov 30th

      That was supposed to read ddp yoga, look it up. It’s designed for back recovery.
      And curse auto-spell correct!


  • Brian : Nov 30th

    Proverbs 3:5-6 comes to mind here…

    “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.

    In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”

    Prayers that the doors will be opened that will allow you the opportunity to hike the full AT next year!

    The Chief

  • James Scott : Nov 30th

    I can’t pretend to understand how this has to feel. I’m quitting my job to take on the Trail for some similar reasons, but it has to be difficult when you’re considering a job that you’ve fought so hard for. I’d suggest asking what’s going to give you the most long term enjoyment, the Trail or the job? If the job is something that took that much time and effort to land, it might be better to hold onto that and do the trail on sections. In AWOL’s book, I know he mentioned a hiker who’d done the trail in sections using their vacation time each year. Something like that could give you the satisfaction of still completing the Trail, without having to give up a stable job that would be providing for your livelihood when the Trail ends

  • Shannon : Dec 1st

    We aren’t promised a tomorrow. Life shouldn’t be about working. Sometimes you have to walk away from “life” to actually live. It’s something I firmly believe in, even if I’m late paying a bill.

  • david longley : Dec 1st

    I understand completely. I’ve dreamt of a thru-hike for so long but I’ll be 50 next year and it seems that despite all efforts to the contrary my health is deteriorating. There is just no way my company could hold my job for me for 5 or 6 months. In my industry there aren’t a lot of my positions available so finding a comparable job upon completion of a thru-hike would be nigh impossible. Here I am, almost 50, wishing I had discovered thru-hiking at your age, without the mountain of debt and responsibility I’ve acquired. Am I speaking to you from your future? Maybe. Maybe I am. “Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. See…there is no Someday.” This haunts me. I pray you find peace in your decision.

  • Stephen Gales : Dec 1st

    I, too, couldn’t get a leave of absence so I just quit to thru hike in 2000. My employer did call me to come back after my return, but one cannot count on this. Good luck in your decision. A good job trumps a thru hike but it does sorta suck.

  • Carl Zimmerman : Dec 1st

    Everyone’s situation is different. Everyone’s perspective is different. I didn’t hike the AT until I was 58 (I was retired). I would have loved to have hiked it at an earlier age. I’m sure it would have been easier on my body. But, I couldn’t see leaving my job & jeopardizing my career just to do a hike. I was fortunate to have longer than average vacation leave with my job. I was able to go one some longish hikes (150 – 220M) to whet my desire for long distance hiking.

    Regardless of which decision you make, life will go on. You may regret your decision. You may not. Like many decisions you make, the ultimate outcome is uncertain. Good luck with whichever decision you make.

  • Pink Panther : Dec 1st

    Just do it. Had the same thing happen, never regretted a single moment. A thru hike trumps and job. Work to live, no live to work. I was 53 when I gave notice. They took me back.

  • Forrest Stone : Dec 1st

    I would do the month run and see how you feel towards the end of the month. I’m doing a SOBO 2017 run. I’m not in your shoes, I’m medically retired from the Army so I have the freedom to try. When I start mine I’ll be 48 turning 49. I’m hoping my body holds up. I planned so far in advance so I can get in better shape and test gear before I go. Good luck with your hike.

  • Glenn Batson : Feb 28th

    Such a hard decision. I feel for you. Just don’t discount that something “better” will come along. You never know, you quit, hike the whole trail and then you find something new and better than you ever could have imagined does come along. Follow your heart. It will all work out.


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