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.
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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