My Adult Gap Year

Welcome to the AT!!!

Hello! Welcome to my journey to attempt a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail. I’m not sure the day or month that I realized that it was time to make my dreams come true, but I think it was at some point after I came back from living out of my car for 7 weeks. My dog, Potus Pie, and I bounced around out west hiking, camping, and exploring as much as we could before I returned home for the next school year.

What did make me happy? I kept questioning myself.

Hiking, kayaking, camping, and backpacking, especially when I was able to spend time with my dog. We began hiking and backpacking a lot more together. I noticed how excited he became when I pulled out my tent and his backpack. He was hooked more than I was!!!


It was time to sign contracts for the next year and I was at home for the day, so my principal phoned me to ask about my unsigned intent to return for the following year. Before I knew it…. I blurted out the words “I’m taking time off from teaching to hike the Appalachian Trail. I’m quitting.” My principal went quiet for a long pause. See, the previous year I had taken a tumble and managed to break my nose on the world’s easiest hike, which came after I used class time to show my students YouTube videos on Grandfather Mountain in NC and videos on kayaking in Wyoming. I was clearly hooked on spending time outdoors.

The biggest question came as I moved through the next few months: Can I do this???? Fear, anxiety, and excitement rotated through me constantly.

So, here it is over a year later and I am preparing to step out on the trail, but this time I will be jobless and homeless. I let my lease go a couple of days ago and now I am down to a car, a bedroom set, and a couple of boxes.

My Gap Year

I will say that I have spent the last year traveling, working seasonal jobs, and picking up subbing jobs as I prepare for the biggest challenge of my life.

Solo International Travel

I traveled for the first time in my life out of the country this year. I made it to Peru to hike the Salkantay Trail and summitted a 17k Peak!!! It was amazing! And I learned that altitude sickness is horrible.

Then, later I made it to Ecuador, but this time I traveled completely on a solo journey. I met new people, stayed in great hostels, and went to a charming town outside of Quito. I was able to do a lot of waterfall hiking, ziplining, biking, and made it up to the Glacier at Cotopaxi while staying at a hostel close to the park. My trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos taught me a lot about learning to become self-sufficient and really work through adversaries, even in a language I don’t speak very well.

Part-time jobs

Oof. It’s been a crazy work year for me, as well. I worked at a seasonal resort at the base of the White Mountains in New Hampshire, which allowed me to hike and learn about the Northeast. What an experience!!!

I waitressed at a local wing and beer chain when I returned home, which was a great supplement to help me travel. It also reminded me that being a waitress is difficult and people should respect those in the service industry.

It’s Been a Fun, Crazy Year!!! Welcome to the Trail.

Featured image by Althea Collier.

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Comments 2

  • Cheryl Ritenburg : Mar 6th

    Looking forward to hearing about your trek! Go girl!

  • YeeHa : Mar 11th

    Best wishes to you and Potus Pie for a great walk in the AT woods, Hope. Perhaps your trek might include a 2-minute stroll off the AT for a fresh well water break at BeeChHill in Troutville, VA? We’d especially love to hear about your international hostel experiences, and our dogs will share true (canine) southern hospitality with Potus Pie. If you’ll be NOBO, we’re 1/3 of the way to Katahdin. Enjoy your walk!


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