Mar 26, 2013 at 10:35 am #1300917
So I have a plan that would allow me to do the PCT next year (mind you, I'm 42 with a dog and a mortgage and bills and no one to help pay them…), and when I'm finished I'd just stay in the PNW to settle down (which was my original plan).
Here is my question: has anyone gone through the trouble of putting life on hold to do a thru, then regret it??Mar 26, 2013 at 11:11 am #1969745
"Here is my question: has anyone gone through the trouble of putting life on hold to do a thru, then regret it??"
Never done a thru, but I'd recommend also asking the question: has anyone ever decided not to put life on hold to do a thru, then regretted it?Mar 26, 2013 at 11:15 am #1969747
Because I AM the one who has been putting it off and regretting it; I have a plan and the pragmatist in me is looking for good reasons why it's not a good idea.
It's sort of how scientific research works: try to prove the null hypothesis. Basically you look for reasons why you are wrong, then when you can't you know you're right. And right now, other than my poor CharlieDog, I can't find a good reason not to do it.Mar 26, 2013 at 11:35 am #1969754
I know 3 through hikers and none have regrets. I had a free month to do an AT section and no regrets. However, all were pre-career. Seems like you have thought this through … sounds like you need to try this. I read that about 1/2 who start, fail to complete. Are you prepared to accept something less than completion if snow, injury or the will to finish get in the way?
I highly recommend reading WILD, by Cheryl Strayed. The full title is a little longer. It comes from the perpective of a solo female PCT through-hiker. The book is a very well written, very personal account of her hike and the events leading up to it.
Best wishesMar 26, 2013 at 11:46 am #1969756
W I S N E R !Participant
"And right now, other than my poor CharlieDog, I can't find a good reason not to do it."
Why should you give any credibility to someone else's reason not to do it?Mar 26, 2013 at 12:01 pm #1969764
If you have the chance, why not?
CharlieDog will be fine.
Life is what you make it, right?
Same ol- same ol, or experience? Your choice.Mar 26, 2013 at 12:27 pm #1969773
I'd stay away from Wild. Book was bad. Lots of better out there. Go read a few blogs as they r better. Wireds was good
You can learn from others.
Do it. I'm waiting for my chance. Married. Job. Kid. But I'm not waiting till the kids 18. Life is too short.Mar 26, 2013 at 2:01 pm #1969808
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
When I was 22 to 24 years old, I worked in a backpack/ski shop in the burbs. We had our regular customers and because we led 8-day backpacking trips in the Sierra in the summer, we'd get to know many of them pretty well. They were all middle aged (like you and I are now) and financially successful enough to live in the burbs and shop locally.
NONE of them said, "Get back to school, start a real job, get a mortgage, and settle down real soon."
MANY of them said things like, "I went right to work after school, got married, bought a house. Now I have the bank account, gear, and the shop full of tools I wanted when I was younger, but no time to use them. Keep doing what you're doing for a few more years." because we'd chat about trips and twice a month I'd jiggle my schedule for a week here and 5 days there and take a backpacking or road trip somewhere new. Whereas they'd dedicate one of their few weeks of vacation to go backpacking with the groups we'd put together and look forward to all year.
You say you have a plan and but it is unclear to me if you are selling the house before or after the thru hike. I'd suggest selling it before. Reduce the mementos to a few boxes in Mom's basement, loan the few sentimental pieces of furniture to friends and family. Craigslist or Goodwill the rest. The freedom to have an open-ended agenda is remarkable. The housing market is once again quite hot so it is a good time to sell. If you sell before you are ready to start your hike, then coach-surf if you have some weeks on the job left or do a road trip with the dog until it's time to start hiking. Get a minimal cell phone plan and imagine life without mortgage, home insurance, electric, gas, water, sewer, and cable bills.
Having done this a few times, (admittedly only once involved selling a house), I found the freedom invigorating and all sorts of opportunities for trips, friends and temporary employment popped up that I never would have imagined (i.e. had blinders on to) while in town, at work, in my regular routine.
You'll bug the hell out of people when they ask you when are "coming back" or "getting on with your life" if you say "I don't know" or "when I'm ready" or "I think this IS part of my life.", but, hey, maybe it will put a bug in one or two of them to do likewise someday.Mar 26, 2013 at 2:06 pm #1969814
@paulmagsLocale: People's Republic of Boulder
I regret not being in the postion to thru-hike right now. :)
All the hiking I've done from my early 20s – 35 yo has made me the person I am right now (Turning 39 this May)
Currently I am in career building mode (as opposed to job-building mode that paid for my thru-hikes). Within 2-3 yrs, I hope to put my hat in the contractor ring and structure my life around having more time off in between gigs.
For now? I relished the fact that I spent my formative adult years being a hiking bum.
I also relish that fact that my current self still gets out every weekend and a fair amount of longer trips every year.
If I had not spent my earlier adult years doing the thru-hiking thing, I probably would not have moved to Colorado, have my current circle of friends and not have met my wife.
SO, no regrets.Mar 26, 2013 at 2:16 pm #1969821
You know I love you guys, right?
You are all telling me the things I want to hear. I own a condo in Chicago so selling is out of the question…but renting it out is a perfectly plausible solution (I even have some possible renters and a friend to manage the place for me while I'm gone). But I've been dying to jump off the treadmill for a few years now, and actually it's this site and all the blogs and whatnot that is convincing me how badly I want to do this.
I had a nasty health scare earlier this year that made me think about what would I want my life to be if I had 3-5 good years left…and – surprise! – none of those years involved work and mortgage and bills and commuting.
So…I came up with a solid, do-able plan that lets me hike the JMT in August, live with my brother and 13-month old niece in Austin until April (paying off bills and saving cash) then pct here I come.
Nothing quite like middle age hiker trash, eh?Mar 26, 2013 at 2:27 pm #1969824
What David said, all of it. Sell the house if it fits the plan and is at all financially feasible. And go. And when you're back, whether a month later, or two or hopefully four, by all means let us know if it was worth it.
This is a unique opportunity. If you "knew" it was going to be worth it, it wouldn't be an adventure.
And pick up WILD. A terrific bio written by a woman who did many things the "wrong" way, both before and during the hike. As a how-to hiking book, nah. As a woman's account about her trials, tribulations, courage, perserverence, frustration, friendships, kindness, dangers, beauty and salvation – very very good. At least this husband, father, and now grandfather saw it that way. Besides, Michael only only likes car repair books (juuuust kidding). Enough of the review.
Yes, it's possible you will regret it, but stands of chance of being a fantastic adventure.
PaulMar 26, 2013 at 2:36 pm #1969827
And remember, in the words of the delightful Lucille Ball: I'd rather regret the things I've done than regret the things I haven't done.Mar 26, 2013 at 2:45 pm #1969829
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
Like some of the other post-ers, I haven't done a thru-hike. I'm now in my early 40s, with 2 kids. I'm struggling with this issue. Only when you have kids do you realize how commanding the school-year schedule is and how short the summer vacation really is, when you factor in the weekends with obligations. I just don't get out enough. I have the gear. I'm constantly organizing the gear, thinking about the gear, tinkering with the gear, which just don't see enough use. I just don't get on a trail enough.
I was lucky enough to get a 3-week vacation to visit a friend in Bolivia last year. It was hard leaving the kids. But, it was incredible to have few obligations and an open schedule. I felt . . . lighter. We hiked, toured around. It felt life-altering (for about a month after I got back. Then back to the real-world).
Take the time if you can.
In the words of Frank Drebin: "Go for it, Stephanie."Mar 26, 2013 at 2:56 pm #1969835
@lotuseaterLocale: Colorado Foothills
A couple of comments:
(1) Pick up a copy of Justin Lichter's book Trail Tested. He has some great comments about long distance hiking with dogs, and specifically addresses the question of what to do when you're hiking those sections where dogs are verboten.
(2) As a landlord, I'd suggest against having a friend act as your property manager. It can be extremely hard work, or at the very least time consuming, and the last thing you need is to have to come off the trail to deal with a major issue because it's too much for your well-meaning friend to deal with.
I'm not sure what the going rate is in Chicago, but outside the ski resorts here in Colorado, property managers tend to charge ~8-10% of the gross rent. (In the ski resorts it's closer to 35%, but that's a totally different market.) That would be money well spent if, once you've run the numbers, you can factor that into the cost of having your condo turned into a rental.
Those numbers should also include the cost of vacancies, which depends on how desirable your condo is as well as the tightness of the local rental market, and the cost of maintenance. There are other considerations, too, including depreciation and tax write-offs, that may influence your decision. Feel free to PM me with any questions.Mar 26, 2013 at 3:28 pm #1969843
@cfrey-0Locale: US East Coast
I have a regret.
I completed a thru-hiked last year.
I went alone and my fiance stayed at home. I did an extended trip, so I was gone for 7 months. She lovingly supported my every step, but work didn't afford her the opportunity to come meet me out on the trail. She isn't much of an outdoor gal anyway. But now, at home, every time I tell a story or an anecdote or share a photo or get caught staring dreamily off into the bright blue sky I feel like I am cheating. After 8 years together it is the first thing to ever stand between us. She cannot relate.
So yes I have a regret. I regret not hitting her over the head to be awoken at the monument in Campo. Oh well, there is always next year!
(And if things go terribly wrong, Mexico is right there after all.)Mar 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm #1969848
"Like some of the other post-ers, I haven't done a thru-hike. I'm now in my early 40s, with 2 kids. I'm struggling with this issue. Only when you have kids do you realize how commanding the school-year schedule is and how short the summer vacation really is, when you factor in the weekends with obligations. I just don't get out enough. I have the gear. I'm constantly organizing the gear, thinking about the gear, tinkering with the gear, which just don't see enough use. I just don't get on a trail enough."
Couldn't have said it any better Steven. I've struggled with this a lot in the last few months.
My advice (which is worth little) – Go for it. I highly doubt you would have much to regret. I've had the opportunity to hike and socialize with folks who are in their 60-70's quite a bit. I've asked many of them, "Looking back, what things would you have done differently in your life?". Granted, kind of a heavy question, but they are always willing to share. You know, not one of them has ever said they would work more, earn more money, or buy more things. It was always things like, "Drive across the country". "I would have hugged my kids every day & told them I loved them." "Hike the whole AT."…They all looked back and wanted more experiences instead of more things. I think hiking the PCT would be one heck of an experience for you.
RyanMar 26, 2013 at 4:02 pm #1969851
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: thru hikes and kids.
Okay, I'll grant that the school year and soccer schedules seem to leave no time for a thru hike.
BUT, Are your kids really going to be damaged by an absence of the last 3 weeks of school in May/June?
I'm 51, and my son at 11 didn't slow me down at all on serious day hikes (Half Dome, GCNP Colorado River) or backpacking trips. My daughter at 7 needs more handholding and day hikes under 15 miles and BPing under 10 miles a day. BTW, UL backpacking technique and gear REALLY help on a whole-family trip.
So my thought, and to some extent my practice, has been to do those trips as they present themselves and figure "screw the school schedule" – a day in the outdoors with a physician and an engineer can pretty educational, too.
I've long had a practice of "father-son road trips" which have recently featured more hiking and backpacking. I'm seriously considering starting to section hike either the PCT or the AT, probably those sections where I could enlist friends or family for the shuttles to the trailhead. The "father-daughter road trips" are now in their second year and are also getting more outdoorsy.
If the kids are old enough (over 6?), I'd say to plan your thru hike as a family event – maybe not a full PCT, but there's always next year to finish it. If they aren't all old enough, use it as motivation to plan family car-camping trips, hikes, outdoor cookouts, short backpacking trips, and such to build their skills and interest now.Mar 26, 2013 at 4:50 pm #1969859
@sarbarLocale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Plan, plan and plan, then go for it – but also have a real plan for when you are done. Yes moving here is nice – but will you have work lined up? Do you have a savings cushion for 6 months of being out of work after you re-enter life? Can you find good dog care? To me a dog is no different than a child – it needs to be thought out, with someone loving.
But also….do you have a plan if your thru hike flops? It does happen, more often than realized…that a week or a month into it you peter out and quit, or have an injury. All things to think out.
As for those talking about kids, being in 40's and all that….it is all about looking over the fence and seeing green grass. I'd rather have security in my 40's than not, but that is me. I wandered in my early 20's, had a kid at 24 and wandered with a child. I turned 40 this month and now have 2 more children – and I just can't imagine wandering like I did with my oldest. They deserve more from me I guess. But…these things are a PERSONAL decision.Mar 26, 2013 at 6:26 pm #1969886
For me, if I lost my job today I would have another one before the sun set. As a physical therapist there are so many jobs all over – maybe not in the practice or setting that I want – but I will have absolutely no problem finding a job ASAP. Ideally ill have something lined up before I leave, but if not its not the end of the world.
Leaving the dog bothers me, he'll be miserable, but I have a very good friend who loves him a lot, and CharlieDog likes him (he dog-sat while I was in Patagonia for a month last year) so that will be ok…just really, really sad :(Mar 26, 2013 at 6:29 pm #1969890
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
Nice thing, though, it's so easy now to get photos and updates about CharlieDog while you would be away. : )Mar 26, 2013 at 6:36 pm #1969893
@fluffinreach-comLocale: no. california
it depends upon you "coin of the realm".
if you look at a decent trek as "how much did it cost", that is fine (and you will earn no-place special doing that dogma).
if you look at a work as "it cost me 14 eff'n months not walking to afford this ridiculous condo: .. thee may well be better served.
it just depends upon what is your particular currency. money ? or time ? or miles ? or in my case .. views, solitude, fear, and ice.
at the present time, one value can be reasonably traded for another. coming pretty soon, you may not be able to where you want.
i started too late. 20 years perhaps.
i have a career, and in the last 10 days two previous employers have called trying to lure me back. that is very nice a feeling, to have a good rep. it is also a nice feeling to have a long red line on the map on the wall.
it is your life, the decision can not be taken back once the time is spent.
consider carefully that careers these days are more about sucking butt than competency.
and make your choice.
why would you listen to somebody telling you Not to go ?
why would you not listen to somebody telling you how to properly wire your garage ?
because if you can not listen to others, then your ears and the space between them is most likely a wasted thing, eh.
v.Mar 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm #1969906
Like other posters have mentioned, I have a gorgeous wife and kids I love dearly so most of my personal adventures are a group project. I've put my wife on notice that I will be PCT class of 2022 (she's already given me a hell no for joining me.) Honestly, the thought of leaving her for 6+ months leaves a knife in my heart. I've already deployed away from her for a couple years combined so I'm not excited about doing it on a voluntary basis. The reality is that this is at the very tiptop of my bucket list and no one (at least very few) can step on that trail as a through hiker without making some form of a personal sacrifice. If it was easy then everyone would do it.
I'm grateful for the few years I worked on an ambulance as an EMT to teach me how finite and precious life is. I've seen enough tragedy to know that I'm not guaranteed a damn thing so I try to do my living now. I'm fortunate to have a job which will allow me to retire when I'm 51 so I'll be plenty young enough to give the triple crown a go if I have it in me. Until then I'm satisfying my backpacking needs with weekend hikes and the occasional intermediate length hike.
Go so I can live vicariously though you!Mar 26, 2013 at 7:14 pm #1969911
@sarbarLocale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Yeah, if you are a PT you won't have an issue. One of my friends who did a PCT hike in '09 is one…….Mar 26, 2013 at 7:28 pm #1969918
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
"NONE of them said, "Get back to school, start a real job, get a mortgage, and settle down real soon."
Well, I took the opposite tack and I am really happy that I did…
I got my MBA when I was 25 – finished on a Friday and started work the following Monday — and I made a conscious effort to save up. I retired at the end of 2003 when I was 42 — and took up backpacking in 2004. My "virgin" multi-day trip was at Wind Rivers, and I loved it!! I also travel abroad for 2 months (sometimes more) each year — hosteling — picking whichever countries I fancy at the particular moment. While I haven't worked a day or earned a dime — my stock portfolio is still just about the same as it was back in 2004 — even with the recession. Yes, the cup of plenty that replenishes itself can be a reality — but you have to lay down the ground work first. Pay your dues, then kick back and have fun.
Financial success comes in all shapes and sizes. But in my case, I was ALWAYS just a salary man — so I think I can say that it is (1) do-able if you are married with children and (2) pretty easy actually if you are single — like me — with a fraction of the expenses of most families — unless you unwisely choose to live beyond your means.
So, I DO advise younger adults to get serious about their careers and their savings/investments. America has one of the highest incomes in the entire world. There is NO earthly reason why we can't enjoy a little AND save up as well. Do y'all really need to have a new iPhone every time Apple comes out with one? Rhetoric, of course, but y'all know what I mean…
But back to OP's question. As a single woman with responsibility mostly or only to yourself — I say GO FOR IT. Why not? When I was in-between jobs back in 1999, I took off for a month, traveling in India and Uzbekistan. Loved it!! And given that you like hiking — you likely will too. And what's the worst outcome anyway? You start the hike, you hate it — all you have to do is drop out and fly on to PNW — given yourself more time to settle down and look for a new job. And how is that bad?Mar 26, 2013 at 8:30 pm #1969959
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
1. I didn't do a through hike, but I did drop out of my university and spend five years living in Europe. It was considerably more educational than my years in school (I never did get a degree), and way more important for who I turned out to be. Not a single regret.
2. I have just been invited to speak at a major national conference in my profession. It would be a real feather in my cap—but I've already got a backpacking permit for those dates in SEKI…and I am not giving that up. I told them I'd do it next year…
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