Skipping Vacation: A Trip Heavy With Purpose

Explaining a Strange Decision

First, you have to understand it yourself.

I’m going to start with the age-old question:

“Why you doing that?”

It’s the unavoidable question that I’ve heard over and over again. I’ve heard it from family, from friends, from coworkers, from myself. A million times from myself.

“You’re going to do what? You want to live in the woods for six months?”

“You know it’s going to be cold out there, right?”

Why in the world would someone want to walk away from modern amenities? To make matters worse, you’re using up your savings to do so. You’re letting go of your income. The decision doesn’t seem to make sense when it’s framed like this.

When my understanding finally came, it came in the form of contrast to a friend’s remark.

“Dude, you’re nuts. You’re taking months off of work and spending thousands of dollars to live in the woods. You could travel Europe instead. Or anywhere. You could see so much of the world that most people don’t have the chance to. What kind of vacation is that?”

Ahh, There It Is. This Is Not a Vacation

My name is Luke Howard. All you really need to know about me is that I’m a twentysomething who has lost his vision. Not my eyesight, thankfully; my vision of the future. I found myself in a place where life had boiled down to today, tomorrow, maybe next week, but no further. I found that I was unhappy, with seemingly little right to be.

I had re-imagined my career a few years out of school, successfully landed the job that I wanted, and was thriving in it. I had checked off most of the boxes: trust from my employers, working when and where I wanted. I had a creative outlet in my work. I was challenged with a near-endless learning curve. But still I woke up unhappy. That was the catalyst for change: subsisting between cups of coffee, pints of beer. Something was definitely wrong, even though I had filled out the framework I created for myself.

I don’t know what it is that’s wrong. That’s why I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail. I’ve left the fold of the normal American working life and I’m going to work for myself. To re-examine my personal philosophies. To have a chance to cultivate a new perspective on life and reconsider the path that I’ll follow.

For the Reader

If you keep reading this blog, this is what you can expect: Inner dialogue, mildly coherent ramblings, and hopefully some epiphanies from a young man in a transitive period of his life. I’m also a lifelong people-watcher and armchair shrink, so I’ll be writing about and showing people I meet along the way. That may be to describe their stories or to tell you how they’ve impacted mine.

Until I get started (which happens on March 7), I’ll write about this pre-launch stage. I’ll share some things about my shakedown hikes, and some things about packaging up my life. I’ll share a bit more about my background and my family, which I consider one of my greatest influences.

To wrap up this first post, let me introduce the cast: my tramily for the next few months. From the left, we’ve got the rugged and quirky Jack; the enthusiastic and thoughtful Alyssa; me; and finally, the effervescent and unshakeable: my girlfriend Natalie.

A selfie of my Tramily

We’re very excited to drop the formal names and earn our trail names!


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Comments 6

  • Avatar
    Jason : Feb 27th

    Sounds like we’ve got similar reasons for being on trail. I start 3 days after you, maybe I’ll catch up and see you on trail!

    • Avatar
      Luke Howard : Mar 1st

      Hey Jason, I like to hear it. Here’s to time well spent on the trail. I’ll be on the lookout for you!

  • Avatar
    Eia : Mar 1st

    Thank you for sharing! I am so elated for you and your “tramily” as you Renaissance your way toward your North Star. Godspeed and Happy Trails to you all. I look forward to following the adventures of the Windsor Furnace Four. May the Trail Magic always be with you!

    • Avatar
      Luke Howard : Mar 1st

      Hey Eia, happy to hear this from you. Your group really embodied the joy that brings us out to the trail.

      Windsor Furnace Four – that’s got a good ring to it. I’ll try to remember to credit you when I re-use it! Happy Trails

  • Avatar
    Kim : Mar 1st

    Hi Luke,
    I hope you & your tramily have the time of your lives. Our paths crossed at Windsor
    Furnace shelter I thought for sure we would be the only ones there. That’s when we had the pleasure of meeting you four. I hope all of you happy trails & hope our paths cross again.
    I cant wait to watch your progress. Good Luck & happy trails.

    • Avatar
      Luke Howard : Mar 1st

      Kim –

      It was great meeting you three! Very fun to compare gear with your relatively luxurious kits… we will definitely remember your tips for the fire and the fireball! Looking forward to keeping you updated.

      Happy Trails!


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