|The end of the Appalachian Trail|
2007: Appalachian Trail
2008: Maine Appalachian Trail
2009: New England Trail
2010: Pacific Crest Trail (and southern AT)
For the past five years I’ve structured my life so that I can consider myself a full-time backpacker. One long-distance hike per year has kept me in practice as a hiker, along with keeping me out of the normal workforce. I’ve been comfortable enough with my lifestyle, although each season seems to wear me out a little more than the last. The 2009-2010 season seemed like a nail in the coffin at the time. Maybe I had a little bit too much on my plate that year.
The New England Trail through-hike happened in October, and then I went off to start my pre-PCT hiking in March. From September 26, 2009, through September 25, 2010, I was on the trail for seven months, hiking a total of 3500 miles. The few months between the NET and PCT were filled with preparations for the Pacific Crest, writing about the New England Trail, and traveling to see friends and family. I worked a part-time job to save up a bit more money for the PCT, but otherwise it was basically an entire year of being a backpacking vagabond.
It’s been a year since I walked into Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail– a year filled with dead ends and false starts. Two jobs that I thought would turn into longer careers both bombed (pretty hard). Two ideas I had for non-standard employment ran into long-term setbacks. The one long-distance backpacking trip I planned for the spring (the Long Trail) was derailed by flooding rains, so I rescheduled it for the fall, when it was derailed by even worse flooding.
|One year ago, today.|
Along with trying to keep the long-distance backpacking part of my life going, I’ve also been trying to find a home. Having a permanent residence and being a full-time traveler seem like mutually exclusive ideas. I haven’t found a way to have it both ways yet. I hope I will eventually.
This will be the first year since 2006 that I haven’t hiked a long-distance trail. Instead I’ve settled into a pretty comfortable living situation in southern New Hampshire with my girlfriend. I have yet to find a job that will stick, as my inner backpacker keeps holding me back from dedicating myself to a career. On a related note, I’ll probably be adding some ads to the blog soon, in an attempt to scrape in a tiny bit of cash from time to time. I try to live a pretty cheap life, but gas and food costs add up on all those drives to the Green and White Mountains.
The lack of a big adventure this year scares me on some level, as if I’ve lost some of what defines me as a hiker and as a person. But maybe I just need to redefine the adventures I’ll have in 2012. I’ve got some ideas, and I’m excited to be living somewhat closer to the mountains than I usually do. I guess I can call myself a weekend warrior now, and maybe the adventures will be even crazier now. Only time will tell.