How IKEA Helped Build My Hike

The idea of thru-hiking the AT started with the book “AWOL on the Appalachian Trail.” After reading the book and deciding to do it, IKEA then led me to my trek and let me go.

It started in tornado alley with a young customer. Tornado alley is a hallway in IKEA where customers and coworkers go during a tornado warning. He had a Rocky Mountain National Park T-shirt on so I asked him if he had been there and he replied that he got the shirt when he thru-hiked the AT. When I told him of my plan to do it he lit up like a Christmas tree. In short time we had shared a bond that is hard to explain. It was another push to go

How can you get the time off?

Then I go to HR to find out how I can take the time off and found out I had just qualified for a sabbatical by being employed at IKEA for seven years. IKEA had just implemented this policy and I had just been there seven years. Another push to go.

What do you do for medical insurance?

The best part of the the deal is I will be fully covered with medical insurance. The cost comes out of my PTO. Just another push.

How can you afford it?

IKEA created a bonus fund a few years ago that I will be using as my expense money. This is a separate account from my 401K. That was the push that sealed the deal.

I retired from the residential construction industry seven years ago and went to work at IKEA part time. It’s a great place to work with as diverse a group of great coworkers found anywhere and a company that believes in sustainability. When I started work at IKEA I never dreamed it would lead me to the Appalachian Trail.

Next up, flip-flop festival.

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