Life On Pause: How We’re Preparing To Hike For Five Months

We have finally announced our hike to all of our friends and family with this little video Nikki made.


We had to keep our exciting news among a small group of people for over a year, which was really hard. We waited so long to make it public because we were concerned about the news getting from our coworkers to our bosses before we told them ourselves that we were quitting. We also didn’t want to tell our bosses so early that it may affect our jobs. So the news is finally out there, but quitting our jobs is just one of many things we’re doing to get our lives in a good position to do this hike.

We’re Officially Homeless

One reason we were able to make this hike a reality is that we were renting and did not have to deal with selling a house or paying to keep a house. In August 2016, when we decided we would attempt a 2018 thru-hike, the first thing we did was move into a small apartment to start saving. We didn’t plan perfectly, though, because our lease actually ended in November 2017 (whoops!), and we moved in with a friend along with our 65-pound lab (we’ll get to her in a minute) until our March departure. We really want to keep our options open for after the hike, so we took this opportunity to purge the majority of our stuff. We no longer have any furniture, and mostly kept the nice kitchen things we were given as wedding gifts and some other valuable things. All of these things are in our friend’s storage space.

Our Sweet Pup Is Not Coming With Us

We got our sweet lab mix over four years ago, and she’s our baby. However, unlike many other dog owners, we did not really ever consider bringing her on the hike with us. The first time someone asked us if we were bringing her, we both instantly said “no” in unison. Not only is she a spastic lab, but she would change our hike. While we love her to death, we would both constantly worry about her bothering other hikers or running off after a deer. Plus, we would probably have to take more breaks for her because she hasn’t done many long hikes. There’s also figuring out what to do with her through the Smokies and in Baxter State Park. There are so many more reasons, but you probably get the point. Luckily, our awesome family is stepping up and taking her. They live on 47 acres and have two dogs of their own, so we know she’ll be super happy there.

Roads? Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Roads…. Or Cars

Naturally, with no jobs we will have no income for the duration of our hike, and we want to cut down on any monthly payments as much as possible. We currently have two cars. One of them is paid off, and the other has a fairly low monthly payment. We considered selling them both, but then we would have to buy a car as soon as we return. Without going into the boring details, we’ll just say that we’ve decided to sell the one that’s paid off and use the money to pay off our newer one. Our family has generously allowed us to leave our one car at their house, leaving us with a car when we return and no car payments while we’re hiking.

Our Friends And Family Rock

These are the biggest things we’ve had to account for in our planning process, and I think it’s safe to say that none of this would be possible without our friends and family! We will forever be indebted to them for making this adventure possible for us.


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Comments 2

  • Nanook : Jan 19th

    Hey Guys,
    Wanted to congratulate you on your up coming hike ( I doing the same SOBO starting in July) and two important decisions that you have made.
    First, unlike myself, you have figured out at a relatively early age that making a living isn’t everything if you have something you really want to do. You will have plenty of time to toil away at the daily grind when you return from a successful hike of the entire AT.
    Next, not taking your dog. Don’t get me wrong, I like dogs, always had one growing up and had one for the kids when they were growing up.
    I have hiked a lot in the vast county parks west of St. Louis, Mo getting ready for my SOBO hike of the AT this year.Some of these parks are 3 to 4 thousand acres and require dogs to be on a leash at all times.For the last four months since I started training, I’ve never seen a dog on a leash.Most owners are apologetic and I try to be civil about it but if I wanted to have a dog jump on me or pee on my pack( yea, it’s happened, I would hike at a dog park.
    More people have been bit by dogs on the AT, PCT and CDT than any other animal. There are some states that allow for a dog to be shot if caught chasing a game animal such a deer, maybe the owner should be included,as I know of no dog that can read regulations.Why do you think there is a probation on dogs in The Great Smokies National Park?
    Anyways, hope to meet you on the trail this year and be safe.

    • The Swords : Jan 20th

      That’s really exciting that you’ve been able to make a thru-hike happen for yourself as well!

      Even since deciding to leave our dog at home, we’ve read so many accounts of people having issues with their dogs and other people’s dogs. It’s really solidified our decision. We’re just fortunate that we have family willing to take her. If it was between taking her or giving her away, it would have been a MUCH harder decision.

      Good luck on your SOBO!


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