Taking Six Months Off Work
After deciding to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (AT), one of the bigger steps I had to take was telling my boss I would need 6-7 months off work.
My parents instilled a strong work ethic upon me. I have lived my entire life with my father’s voice in my head saying to “Take Care of Your Shit”. In our household, that meant maintain a job, pay your bills, and basically be a productive member of society. (For reference, he had me applying to businesses weeks before I was legal to employ, so I would have a job as soon as I was of age.)
Since entering the workforce at 16, I have never been unemployed longer than three weeks. So, this time off work is a BIG deal.
Striving to live by my new standards of not living in fear, I decided to tell my boss in December 2021, that I needed time off to hike the AT starting March 2023. Knowing it was risky, it was something I had to do. There were many sleepless nights and days of ‘chickening out’ leading up to this day.
My Current Employer
As previously mentioned, I am the Office Manager of a specialty trade construction company. The company consists of three people: the owner (my boss), the superintendent, and myself. When any of us are absent due to illness or vacation, it’s felt!
We’re not going to talk about the full inbox upon return from a break! Wait, I digress a bit…
Easily, this is the best job and boss I have ever had. Taking that into consideration, I knew I needed to give him ample time to either replace me temporarily or permanently. Hoping it would only be temporary, but I was willing to risk it so my absence would be covered.
Today Was the Day
I woke up determined that today was the day. I went into the office, (I work remotely from home) to chat with my boss. With sweaty palms and a shaky voice, I told him I wanted to hike the AT in 2023. We chatted a few minutes about that, then it was realized that I would need the time off to actually do it.
At first, he wanted me to work while on trail. For the next few weeks, I honestly considered it. I researched, purchased, and replaced some of my heavier gear. Lightening my load to allow for the weight of my laptop and supplies needed to effectively do my job.
During those few weeks was a huge billing cycle. One of our submitted commercial invoices invoked a lot of back and forth conversation with the general contractor. I knew if this occurred while I was on trail, there would be no way I could resolve it timely, resulting in being excluded from that month’s draw and a big hit to the company’s cash flow.
Eventually, I told him I needed to take the time off instead of working from trail. I explained my reasoning, and he reluctantly agreed. Most importantly, I am still employed and have a job waiting for me once I return!
My Cash Flow Freeze
Unquestionably growing up with a strong work ethic has proven to also be financially beneficial. For example, I am debt free! Allowing me to save wherever possible to self finance the entire duration of this hike and all bills while I am on trail without bringing in a paycheck.
In truth, saving and having strong work ethics have allowed me to do something most people aren’t able to do. I am fully aware of that, and truly grateful for this opportunity. It is not taken lightly.
I can’t wait to begin my adventure!
Until next time…go get some dirt on your shoes!
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New meaning for “Take Care of Your Shit”
Bring a pooper scooper 🤣
Myself and my dog Cain are also planning to thru hike AT NOBO. However our start date will be after Valentine’s Day 2023. I wish you safe travels and happy trails.