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.

Compile Gear

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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Comments 14

  • Ryan : Mar 25th

    Thanks, inspiring. I’ve just started putting a shuttle bus together to live in the road. I’m a programmer, similar situation. Will work remote for a little while until I can be totally free. It has been quite a challenge to get my state of mind ready with regards to current relationships and the paradigms of our societal existences. Hearing stories like this gives me hope, and while I might not have a lot of support from my family, hope is all I need. Thank you. I hope your travels are fruitful and fun.

    Reply
    • Christy Kintzel : Mar 26th

      Hey Ryan! Thank you so much for your kind words. I hope you find a way to break the mold that holds you.

      Reply
  • Anna : Mar 25th

    I can so empathize with feeling like your job has hit the shelf life and longing for something more simple! My husband and I are in the final stages of selling our house, gathering our gear, downsizing years of belongings, and putting in notice at our jobs so we can hike the AT SOBO starting late June for all the same reasons! It’s a wild adventure, but I hope your preparations over the next few months go well. We will be following your journey eagerly (and hoping you stay sane during the house selling process. It’s definitely not the most fun we’ve had in our lives, haha).

    Reply
    • Christy Kintzel : Mar 26th

      Hey Anna! What a small world we live in—it’s like you’re in a parallel universe. I’ll keep an eye out for you on the trail. Maybe leave me an occasional sign from up ahead. Best wishes to you!

      Reply
  • Renee Hoffman : Mar 26th

    So much love and admiration for you, Sissy! We got you back here, go do what you need to do. You got this!

    Much love,

    Rudy and Stacey

    Reply
    • Christy Kintzel : Mar 26th

      Thank you, Rudy!

      Reply
  • Rudolph Rowell : Mar 26th

    Flat rocks, up hill sucks, and down hill sucks; but flat rocks! If you can deny yourself of creature comforts, this is do-able. One thing that got me thru many a ruck march… mind over matter if I don’t mind it doesn’t matter! Enjoy the solitude when you can get it and take in the trail, walk a blue blaze or two to some beautiful places. Enjoy the people you meet and the towns that you visit. But most importantly, hike your hike. That is what it is your hike!

    Reply
    • Christy Kintzel : Mar 26th

      Hey Rudolph! Thank you so much for your great advice. I’ll look back on this as a reminder (as I’m sure to forget, especially when things get tough).

      Reply
  • Pete : Mar 27th

    “The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands (and feet), and then work outward from there.” -Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (I added the feet part)

    Reply
    • Christy Kintzel : Mar 27th

      Thank you for this, Pete.

      Reply
  • Noah : Apr 16th

    Go get ’em, Christy

    Reply
    • Christy Kintzel : Apr 17th

      Thank you, Noah. You know it!

      Reply
  • Natalie : Apr 18th

    Way to make your own way, Christy! Super happy and proud to see you following your passions.

    Reply
    • Christy Kintzel : Apr 19th

      Thank you, Natalie, for seeing that I’m practicing what we preach.

      Reply

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