Why I Left My Job to Hike the Appalachian Trail SOBO
My name is Mike Miklius and I’m going to be hiking the Appalachian Trail this summer. I have dreamed about it for a couple years and I am finally putting my money where my mouth is. I originally planned to start in the South, but my schedule just didn’t seem to agree with that. So I find myself starting in Maine with what I consider the biggest challenge: Mt. Katahdin. I guess I figure if I can make it through that, then what else could get in my way? Anyway, let’s go through some of the basics.
As I mentioned, my name is Mike Miklius. I’m 32, I am one of six kids in my family (third and a classic middle child), and I love adventure. Really, I love crazy ideas and tackling them. In 2014, I completed an Ironman triathlon. I once bought an 18,000-piece puzzle, and I want to drive across the country (New York to California) in one shot at some point. Just to say I did. I was a high school teacher for six years and I’ve been a private tutor since. I wanted a new challenge, so here I am to take on the trail.
I am hiking the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail began in 1923 and it traverses 2,200 miles, passing through 14 states along the way. Most people begin in Georgia and end in Maine. If you know me, though, you know I’m not like most people. So, I’m starting with Maine and am doing the trail SOBO, or southbound. My goal is to get to Georgia by Thanksgiving so I can go home for the holidays victorious. Either way, I plan to be home by that time so the clock is ticking.
This was kind of already mentioned, but Maine to Georgia. I will pass through Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and finally, Georgia. I personally hail from Illinois and love it here. However, there aren’t many elevation changes in my fair state.
I arrive in Maine on July 2, hike Katahdin on July 3, and then I head off into the wilderness on July 4. I didn’t really think about the holiday before planning all of this, but that’s OK. It will be very different from any Fourth I’ve experienced before. I will be home briefly for a wedding in August, but otherwise I plan to stay on the trail that whole time.
This is the big question, right? Why, when you have a good job that pays well, would you ever want to do this? What could drive a person to give up comfort and convenience? Can’t you just walk around a bunch here every day? I’ve thought a lot about these questions. I guess the biggest reason I want to do this is to prove that I can. Much like in “Wild” (movie, not book yet), I know I will never be fully ready. I know there will be challenges and miserable nights as I stumble through beginner mistakes. However, those challenges fascinate me. “Impossible” has always excited me because it presents a chance to grow. It provides a chance to rewrite the rule books. I root for the underdog. I watch excitedly hoping for the 16 to beat the one every March. I yearn for the impossible. This being the case, I am drawn to the craziest of ideas. In this case, hiking the Appalachian Trail.
So why leave my job? I really do enjoy tutoring. It was always great to know I helped a student, and even better: my brother was my boss. He is a great mentor and more than I would ever expect from another boss. I wish my heart was 100 percent in tutoring because that would have made things so much easier. However, wishing doesn’t always make it true. I knew I needed a new challenge. So I am taking on the trail to figure out my next steps in life, as well as who I am and what I want to be. It may sound cliche, but I’m going out to the trail to find myself.
Anyway, I look forward to this journey and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.
Mike “insert trail name” Miklius
PS. Here is a picture of me so you can find me out on the trail.
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