Spoiler alert: I am not sacrificing much
I have read many books and trail journals of AT thru-hikers who have had to sacrifice a lot. Most even have to plan years ahead of time to accommodate their career and family.
I feel that I am in a unique situation that I am able to do this. My life won’t be impacted that much by taking off 6 or so months. There are only two things that I am a little apprehensive about.
One is my apartment. Right now I am living my most favorite area I have lived in since adulthood. I live in a small neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. There is a large park 1 block west of me and some nice stores and restaurants 2 blocks east of me. There is a bike path less than a half mile away and a short hiking trail even closer. Portland has some of the lowest vacancy rates in the nation so it would be difficult to find a place when I got back, not to mention how difficult it would be in Sellwood (my neighborhood).
The other concern I have is my career. I am already having a problem with getting out of desktop support and specializing in something more challenging. If I didn’t choose to hike the AT maybe I would be in a much better place career-wise a year from now. Also, what will a future prospective employer think about me pausing my life for this length of time? The way I am justifying this is that I would probably regret not hiking the AT a year from now and that maybe a future employer will see my hike as a positive, not a negative.
It turns out my landlord is willing to work with me on sub-letting my apartment while I am gone. It will be hard to find someone to fit this role but at least there is hope in keeping my place.
I am also quite confident in finding at least temporary work when I get off the trail. Besides, who knows what my desires will be when I get back? Maybe I’ll want to find temporary employment again and then do something similar the following summer.
There are of course other obvious people and things I will miss while I’m gone. I will miss the majority of the Portland Timbers season to which I have 2 season tickets for. I will miss my friends and family. And I will miss Oregon. Compared to others planning to thru-hike the AT I don’t think I have much to worry about.