You Stepped Away from Your Life for Weeks—What Did You Expect?
Up and Leave Your Life.
Last year, I was walking solo into Johnson, VT on the Long Trail and we had just received news that one of Tarzan’s AT tramily members passed unexpectedly. I needed someone to talk to and had a few miles along the logging road to get through and happened to have cell service, so I called my favorite Aunt.
We talked for a good long while. I caught her up on what was happening on trail and she caught me up on what was happening at home. One of the updates came as a shock to me—she said “You stepped away from your life for weeks—what did you expect? That was a few weeks ago!” I felt a bit shocked, but it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the world I left was still running at full speed without me. The only difference is I was immersed in trail life and green tunnels instead of the hustle and bustle and struggle of town life. I felt a little shameful too, maybe embarrassed to have missed such a pivotal, yet unexpected update from my family.
My aunt wasn’t trying to make me feel badly for setting off on a great adventure. I know she is proud of my journeys… Fear of missing out or losing opportunities are probably the number one reason people never execute their plans to backpack/thru-hike. Fear ensures that there is never a “right time.”
One of the top questions backpackers get asked when they tell people in their life that they’re leaving for a few weeks or longer to wander into the wilderness with minimal access to the internet and the speedy means of communications our modern society is so accustomed to is; “How can you just up and leave your life for that long?” followed by the “I could never—I need to shower daily and I couldn’t sleep outside” or “You’re crazy. Aren’t you afraid of the bears?”
If it’s not your first rodeo… I mean trip, you’ve also heard the “What about _____”
- Your bills
- Your rent
- Your job/business/clients
- Your spouse/your kids
- Your pets
- Friends and family
When is “The Right Time” to Section/Thru-Hike?
It can be difficult to cancel out all the well-intentioned or not-so-well-intentioned chatter you get when announcing something like a multi-week or multi-month backpacking trip. It can make you want to second-guess your trip altogether, especially when those closest to you ask if proposed time is “the right time”. The truth is there is no “right” time—just time and it’s your decision on how you spend it because your time is finite. Some of us will have more time than others and some of us will have more sacrifices than others that may or may not dictate how we choose to spend it, but the important thing to remember is that it’s our responsibility to spend it in a way that is most meaningful and impactful to us.
As soon as I got off of the Long Trail last year, within a month, I was flipping forward to August 2023 and marking the Northville Placid Trail in. I ordered the maps and guides. I told my friends and put my nose to the grindstone to start stashing money away for this two-week trek that is now just 20ish days away.
This week, I sent an eblast to my client base letting them know I’d be OOO from August 23-September 5th. I informed them that here would be limited staff available to fill in. That’s it. I’ve done that in 2019, again in 2021, and in 2022. Last year I took five weeks to complete the Long Trail and guess what? My business is fine. It’s stronger than ever. I still have my office and my apartment too. My cat is alive and I’m not dead yet! Why? Because I did what I had to do to prepare for the time off. Made the arrangements, communicated, and put in the long hours.
Am I financially, physically, and emotionally stressed when I return? Yes! Am I spiritually renewed with new perspective on what matters and what doesn’t? Every time.
Planning a long-distance backpacking trip requires you to pick a date on the calendar and write it in permanent marker. Plan ahead, identify what needs to be done in advance, and get it done. Get out there! You can’t pencil in these types of adventures because you’ll never go. You’ll never be “ready.”
Ready to bring out your permanent marker? Where will you go?
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