Hiking Is For Quitters
Y’all, these past few years have had me BURNT. OUT. But I know just what my tired soul needs (not more cowbell, although good guess): 2,200 miles of walking in the woods! You know what they say, nothing more rejuvenating than wearing your body to the absolute limit. So I put in my 2 weeks notice as a construction project manager, packed up my life in CA, and set off on this grand Appalachian adventure.
We All Fantasize About Quitting Our Jobs and Hitting the ‘Ole Dusty Trail, Right?
Whether that fantasy was about hiking the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, or some other long-distance trail – if you’ve ever felt a hankering for hiking when you were supposed to be diligently creating value for your corporate overlords, you know what I mean. The thoughts slowly creep in: “My job is a waste of time…” “Is this what I want to do every day for the rest of my life…?” “Wouldn’t I be happier hiking in the rain (or snow, or hail, or apocalyptic plague of locusts) right now…?”
Welp, I’m finally listening to that voice. I’m turning 30 this June, and I couldn’t bear the thought of spending that birthday continuing to complain about a job I despise. I grew up hiking in the Shenandoah’s, and always imagined I would attempt an AT thru-hike one day – what was I waiting for??
I know many people have had similar awakenings during COVID, and good for us, I say! Something so bleak has to be good for something. In my case, it brought into stark focus how unhappy I was arguing with general contractors all day – didn’t I want to be a writer? Wasn’t this job supposed to be a means to an end, so I could pursue my real dreams? It’s amazing how you can start a job with that mindset and keep yourself so busy, you don’t even feel the passage of 5 years. Meanwhile, I kept getting grumpier and more bitter. Yikes.
Let’s Start Over
So I’m getting back to the basics. Back to the goofiness and weirdness that makes me, me. No more white-knuckled 60+ hour workweeks. And when did I get so dang serious? That’s not me.
I’ve loved the world of words since I was but a wee lad, and I’ve always known that I wanted to be a writer. I studied English Literature and Philosophy in college, with that express purpose: to support myself through writing. But when the time came to strike out on my own, I withered under my fear of failure. In my OCD/perfectionist brain, if I wasn’t Hemingway, I was nothing. Worse still, I was sure I’d be stuck living with my parents forever as I slowly came to hate the oppressive gift of their continued emotional support and gentle encouragement to get a more “stable” job (yes, many people have it much, much worse). So I took a different path, one that I cared a hell of a lot less about, and focused on building wealth, not happiness.
But I’ve finally saved enough to feel comfortable quitting my corporate job. I’ve finally put in enough time doing something I hate to feel like I deserve to do something I love. I’m finally thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.
It’s Nearly Time!
I’ve bought the last few pieces of gear and I’m tinkering with the setup. I’m biking/hiking/walking as much as I can and trying to pack on a few extra pounds before my body goes into starvation mode. I’m hugging my dog Alta and fiancé Emily as much as I can, knowing that I’ll soon be separated from their warm, furry bodies (Emily loves that one). My start date of Sunday, March 6th is registered with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), and I could not be more excited and afraid – but I’d rather face my fears than flee from them.
If you like the cut of my jib, subscribe to follow along on my journey! I’ll be out there, singing loudly in the woods, meditating in low places, and peeing off of high places. If you’re on the trail, and you see me – say hi! Just don’t ask where all my hair went – that’s a story for another day.
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