Clocked Out, Walked Out: It’s Time to Hike!

I am now gainfully unemployed for the next six months.

When my latest travel nursing assignment was coming to a close, my coworkers asked me the question you hear a hundred times as a travel nurse: “Where are you headed next?” Without any hesitation, I answered, “I’m not taking another assignment. I’m taking six months off from work to hike the Appalachian Trail.” To which they then responded with a question that aspiring thru-hikers hear a hundred times: “You’re going to go hike…for six months??!?” Yes. Although it sounds crazy to everyone else to leave a stable travel nursing gig to spend six months unemployed while walking with 30 or so pounds on my back through 14 states over 2,198.4 miles from Georgia to Maine, it sounds like bliss to me, and I can’t wait!

The final clock-out


Well, there are a few whys, actually.


I have loved hiking ever since I was a kid and my parents used to take us camping and hiking in Maine every summer. I fell in love with the trails, the rock scrambles, the ladder rungs, the lakes, and the breathtaking views. The harder the trail, the more fun I had. The better the view, the more rewarding the trail was. Hiking is in my blood, and it was practically inevitable that one day, short day hikes would no longer be enough to quench my thirst for the outdoors.

The summit of Acadia Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine


My mentor (basically my second dad) is a backpacker. When he offered to teach me how to backpack (rather than just hike), I was over the moon. He took me on my first backpacking trip ever: a section hike of the Appalachian Trail. I’d heard of the trail before then, but I had no idea it was so long or could even be thru hiked. From that first rainy day on trail, I was hooked. I fell in love with the Appalachian Trail the more sections of it I hiked. And with each section I hiked, I found it harder and harder to step off the trail at the end. I vowed that one day, I would hike the whole thing.

My very first picture with an AT sign


I’ve worked in healthcare since I was sixteen years old. Yes. You heard right! I got certified as an Emergency Medical Technician when I was sixteen and rode third person (essentially non-licensed) on the ambulance until I was eighteen and could act as the primary provider or driver without someone else looking over my shoulder.

Me with one of my squad’s ambulances

When it was time to go to college, my mom convinced me that nursing was the next logical step in my career, so I jumped into a nursing program. After four long years of blood, sweat, tears, and an insane number of long papers, I graduated with my BSN and shortly thereafter passed my boards to become a registered nurse. From there, I decided to do the thing that seemed the hardest: work as a new grad nurse in the medical (general) intensive care unit at a large teaching hospital.

My armor for our battle with COVID-19

And then the unthinkable happened: a global pandemic, and WE were the frontline. We were voluntold to be the COVID unit. So we did what we were trained to do: mask up, gown up, glove up, and go save lives. Only…we couldn’t save many of them. And that was hard. I found that in a world in lockdown, my one escape was the trail. In nature, I found solace and the strength to go on gowning, gloving, and caring. Backpacking saved my mental health, but I still have some repairs left to undergo. Six months on trail sounds like the perfect solution to me.

My final night at my staff job before leaving to travel


Being able to say that I hiked 2,198.4 miles in less than a year sounds pretty freaking awesome to me, so why not?

My pack and poles at the Overmountain Shelter

Will you come back to nursing when you’re done?

Don’t know. I have six months to find out. After I clocked out and walked out, I set my sights on Springer Mountain, and I’m not looking back until I stand on Mt. Katahdin.

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Comments 14

  • Patricia Marcos : Mar 2nd

    You are the best!!!…You are making a dream come true…..
    You are living life to the fullest!!!!….Ajaaa!!!!

    • Cobweb Rose : Mar 7th

      Thanks, Patricia! I consider myself very blessed to have this opportunity!

  • Bill Crouch : Mar 3rd

    “Cobweb Rose”, really like that name! And what are the chances we have the same favorite movie? The whole gang here are routing for ya. Cheers!

    • Cobweb Rose : Mar 7th

      I never pinned you for a Zootopia guy, Bill! 😂 Just kidding! Thanks for rooting for me! I miss the family already!

  • Papa Dump ‘22 : Mar 3rd

    Good luck to you Cobweb Rose! You got this! Start out slowly, build your endurance, so that by VA you’ll fly!

    • Cobweb Rose : Mar 7th

      Thank you so much for the (very good) advice and the encouragement, Papa Dump!

  • Tarheel : Mar 3rd

    In 1979 after repaying 4 years of loans and a vehicle, I just quit my job as a pharmacist and hiked NOBO GA>ME. I have never looked back on the most impactful decision in my life. Now 44 years later, I have hiked the JMT, LT, the Annapurna, “O”, & Cordillera Huayhuash circuits, half the Kungsleden and Gates of the Artic, and Everest Base Camp last November.”GO confidently in the direction of your dreams”, and pass by the author of this quote’s “Springs” on the Katahdin table land.

    • Cobweb Rose : Mar 7th

      Tarheel, that’s amazing! Thank you for the encouragement to go for it!

  • Joey : Mar 4th

    Great story, I have been a nurse for 28 years, getting ready to retire. I am also a hiker, I’ve spent many days and nights on the Appalachian approach trail and the trail. Good luck, hope you have a great time!

    • Cobweb Rose : Mar 7th

      Thanks for the well wishes, Joey! And thanks for for doing that challenging job we call nursing. I hope you always get to keep getting out there into nature and making those hikes!

  • Daniel : Mar 5th

    I was a little late into the game when it came to backpacking. My health was what made me back off work. My only regret was not doing it sooner.
    With a large family I am only able to take time off from work on weekends when I have the vacation time to do so, I bring my kids with me for those three day trips. They in return love it and I’m glad that I can do this for them. They beg me to take them on the next trip, and I’m glad that they enjoy the freedom and nature. It might have been a little late for me but I hope that they look back at this time fondly.

    • Cobweb Rose : Mar 7th

      Daniel, I’m so happy that you found your way into hiking/backpacking! Even though a thru attempt may not be an option for you right now, sectioning with your kids is giving you memories and experiences that no one can take away. I fell in love with hiking because my parents took the time to show me how amazing it was. I hope that you and your kids are always able to hit the trails, make those memories, and bond over hiking. Happy trails to all of you!

  • Deanna : Mar 7th

    A great read! As a healthcare worker myself I relate to this so much. I’m heading out on the AT mid-March as well- hope to meet you out there!

    • Cobweb Rose : Mar 11th

      I hope we run into each other on trail! Good luck with your thru, and I hope your much needed break from healthcare is a fulfilling one!


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