How Designing a Logo for Danica Patrick Made Me Want to Quit My Job and Thru-Hike the AT
To be fair, my decision to thru-hike the AT has zero to do with Danica Patrick, and everything to do with reaching my own personal shelf life as a visual designer for a substantial tech company (a company that happens to be Danica’s primary sponsor for the final two races of her career).
I’ve been staring at a screen for the past five years, designing virtual ads to sell virtual products. Before that, I designed signage and environmental graphics. Before that, T-shirts. Behold! Years spent digitally creating aesthetically pleasing things, while I long for something simple. Like taking dog pics. Or taking dog pics while hiking. And so, I’ve begun the ritual of every thru-hiker before me: say it out loud; compile gear; make necessary plans.
Say It Out Loud
For me, this is the hardest part. As I write this, I’ve told maybe a dozen people about my plans to attempt a SOBO AT thru-hike, starting July 2018. Apprehension abounds as I write stories in my head about potentially negative reactions to my bold declaration. Not one to draw attention to myself, my biggest fear is that people will think I’m bragging. Must be nice to walk away from your nine to five in order to follow your dream, right? And who has the means to do so? More on that later, but learning to focus less on what I imagine to be the opinions of others is a burden I hope to leave somewhere on the trail. My family believes in me, and that’s all I need for now.
I’m no stranger to gear, having once prepared for — then immediately abandoned — a NOBO AT thru-hike attempt in 2013. I’ll be carrying the same pack; leaning on the same trekking poles; sleeping under the same quilt. My gear, nestled somewhere between ultralight and lightweight, has been put to test a grand total of 78 miles on-trail — a fairly liberal shakedown distance. I have everything I need, in theory, to be successful.
Make Necessary Plans
This is where it gets real. I’ve given extremely advanced notice to my employer, begun the process of listing my house on the market, and started paring down years of possessions. That’s right — my husband and I are going to sell our home, climb into a van with our two dogs, and head east to Maine. From Baxter State Park, Jeff and the dogs will start their own adventure, while I set foot — quite literally — 2,190 miles toward Springer Mountain in Georgia. Yikes. That requires a certain level of commitment, to be sure, with no guarantee for success.
Until we meet again, I leave you with a quote from Fred Rogers:
It’s really easy to fall into the trap of believing that what we do is more important than what we are. Of course, it’s the opposite that’s true: What we are ultimately determines what we do!
While what I am and what I do are in varying states of evolution, I believe I have the tools to release the trap keeping me from a deep and simple life. Thru-hiking the AT is probably just the beginning. Oh, and I’m way better at taking dog pics than designing a logo for Danica Patrick.
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