Quitting my Job to Thru-Hike the Appalachian Trail
The idea to thru hike the Appalachian Trail idea sparked my interest while ago. At that time, a thru-hike seemed more beautiful than challenging; more ethereal than rugged. My partner, Henri, had done a section (NY state) of the AT when we first started dating and after that, his dream of thru hiking was amplified. The more I learned about hiking, camping, and survival, the more interested I became. On one hand, I could easily say, “I wanted to do it because Henri wanted to do it” but that’s simply not true. I don’t think anyone could want to do something as wild as thru hike just for another person. At least not me. But when I think about why I personally want to do it, there is a laundry list of reasons.
Stick with me, guys. Other than this post being a wildly annoying brief on my hiking and relationship history, it is also very new in the way that it is being written. I can unapologetically scream the decision to thru hike on the top of my lungs now (and being a New Yorker, most people would likely just ignore me and walk on by). What makes it so much more liberating this time is that I took the one step that I needed to in order to make this truly happen. I quit my job.
Now, everyone has been asking the same thing. How did it go? Well, let’s start with how I thought it would go. I was terrified. I work in a corporate setting (digital advertising) and I was to write a post analyzing the unfortunate situation of being told I’m making a poor decision. I was prepared to feel terribly guilty or told that this was a poor choice. I anticipated that my boss’s reaction would leave me feeling misunderstood. Actually, I WAS a little misunderstood. I said “Appalachian Trail” and he asked “So how long do you need? A long weekend or more?” Other than that, though, that anticipatory anxiety vanished as we discussed more. In short, the whole situation went better than I could have ever expected. I gave over a months notice, which I highly recommend since most thru hikers know of their plans more than a month in advance. My boss made an announcement to the employees, and the rest of the afternoon was spent answering data analyst’s questions about the Appalachian Trail.
My jobs in digital advertising were something I feel into after college, but it’s never been something I’ve felt passionate about. My passions are scattered. It’s in clay and illustration and writing and fitness and mental health advocacy. It’s not in one place but instead forever moving, so for the time being, my goal is to live that way. Because that’s where there’s alignment. Because that’s what is most true for me. I am leaving without anything back here waiting for me, which is terrifying, but I trust that it’s the right move. And I’m excited for a change. Perhaps I’ll find myself back in the same industry. Maybe I’ll go back to school. Maybe I’ll work in the service industry. So, I wouldn’t change my decision to quit my job for anything, and that’s the only one true way that I know it’s the right move.
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