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[at-l] postponing a hike

Rick Mann wrote:

>For those that are not sure if you can 'afford' a thru-hike:
>Finishing a thru-hike is not the thing, starting it is.  If you have
>$2000, then hike that much.  If you have $1000, then hike that much.  The
>is not a casual experience that presents itself year after year.  This
>experience does not wait for you to get the money.  If you don't do it
>now, the chance may never be there again.  School, marraige, kids, career,
>health, etc.  Any of these can kill your dream.
>This experience will change your life.  Don't wait.

I'm gonna agree with Rick - then I'm gonna disagree with him - kinda
confusing, isnt it?

First - he's right - none of us have forever.   One of the things
I have tacked on the wall at work says "Enjoy the breath you just
took - the next one could be in the next world".  Nobody knows
what next year will bring, nobody has any assurance that if they
wait for retirement they'll be physically able to do a thruhike.
That's why Ginny and I won't wait that long for our next long trail.

But there's also the question - What do you want?  If what you want
is a week or a month on the Trail - or a summer adventure, that's cool.
And Rick's advice is good - go for it.

But if what you want is a "thruhike" - specifically meaning
end-to-end in one season, then I'm gonna disagree.

For most people an AT thruhike is a once in a lifetime experience.
Why not make it the best, most memorable experience possible?
Pinching pennies, mooching off those who planned ahead, constantly
raiding the hiker boxes (and in some cases, dumpster diving),
not being able to enjoy all the experiences available along the
Trail because of lack of funds - is no fun.  And it could get you
an unwanted and unenviable reputation.

If you WANT a thruhike, and the money isn't there right now - then
plan for it.  You may have to wait until the time is right - and if
you have to wait, there's usually a good reason.  One of my Trail
lessons was that God knows what He's doing.  And for me, that
means that whatever happens in my life, happens for a reason,
that if what I want is delayed - there's a reason.  And it's always
been a good reason.  It works for me.

BTW, this stuff isn't just theory for me.  We're planning another
long trail - in 2 years.  Would we rather go in 2 months? - absolutely.
Would we rather go in 98?  You can bet the farm on that.  But the
optimum time for us to go, to do a thruhike - from a financial
viewpoint - is 99.  So that's when we'll go.

When I did the AT I went through the same kind of process - before
I decided I wanted to go, I had made a work commitment that
delayed my starting the Trail for a year.  In order to make it
work financially, I had to refinance and then rent my house,
figure out what to do with my cars, store - or sell - everything
I owned, pay off the debt (there was a LOT of that), make
arrangements for the bills to be paid (including my daughters
college bills), etc, etc, ad nauseum.  The list went on for
nearly 100 pages of a notebook.  I just found that notebook
last week - and I'll be using it to help plan the next hike.  For
me it wasn't a simple process - it took over a year and I had
to uproot and bulldoze 30 years of my life.

If you REALLY WANT an AT thruhike - are you willing to do
what it takes to make it happen?  Or do you want it RIGHT
NOW - with a high probability that you might not be able to
finish because of finances?   Do you have the self discipline
to wait a year, to get totally singleminded about paying off
the debt, to save money, to  NOT spend money on ANYTHING
that's not directly related to the hike,  to train physically
to minimize your probability of injury and maximize your
probability of finishing?  If you've got that kind of discipline
and that level of commitment - then it'll happen for you.
The Trail is there - it's not going anyplace ( except for a
few relocations).  It'll be there until you're ready for it,
whether that's this year or next year - or 10 years from

Tumbleweed asked -

>Curious:  Have others experienced on the lists here stating, " I wait till
>next year " and then had it turn out to be longer before the chance came

Yeah - we were supposed to be out there again long ago.
But as the saying goes - Life is what happens while you're
making plans.     So what?   If you'd gone 10 years ago,
maybe you'd have blown out your knees and done permanent
damage because you were young and strong and pushed for
too many miles in Georgia - and maybe you'd never have finished.
Maybe you're a little older and smarter now - and you'll finish
because of what you've learned in those 10 years.  I know
that's true in my case.

Ginny and I have talked about having children - and decided not to,
at least in part because of our plans for the future.  So what would
happen if we were suddenly confronted by a pregnancy?   Would it
shut down our plans to walk the CDT and the PCT?  We've talked
about that, too.  And the answer is - No way - it might delay us
for a year - but we'd still go do it, we'd just do it a different way.
And it would be just as good - and possibly even better.

A lot of people would like to go on the Trail - but how
many are willing to voluntarily  uproot their lives, cut the ties
with everything they've built, interrupt their careers, jeopardize
their pensions, etc.  The AT sounds so good - but when the rubber
meets the road, a lot of people back out cause the price is too high.
And I'm not talking about the $3000 or so that it costs to actually
do the AT.

What do YOU want?  How do you want it to be?  And what are
you willing to give up to get it?  Thank God I don't have to
answer those questions for you - that's YOUR problem.
Have fun with it - it's your life.

Walk softly,

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