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lifestyle choices
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Slugsworth .
lifestyle choices on 06/02/2013 13:01:33 MDT Print View

I don't think that the life style choices that thru hikers, and generally people who have prioritized the outdoors is really discussed too often. I'm curious about how people have engineered their lives to do what they want to do. While I've never done a thru hike I do my best to get out as often as possible and decided to do more 5+ day hikes this summer. To that end I turned down a job offer that wouldn't match my vacation time (which is still meager by euro standards).

How is your life organized to facilitate your outdoor pursuits?

darrell johnson
(bombay) - MLife

Locale: in the woods
HYOH or LYOL on 06/02/2013 14:12:19 MDT Print View

Just turned down a long awaited promotion and pay rise in favour of time off for thruhiking the PCT in 2014, many at work think I've made a huge mistake, but recently my wife and I have let go of the accepted markers of success, and find ourselves more and more out of step with most people over here in the UK.
We are not suggesting we know any better than everyone else, just that we have chosen different priorities,
Maybe an application of HYOH or live your own life

choice on 06/02/2013 22:04:23 MDT Print View

Titles and numbers are for those that choose to keep a scorecard in life.

That aint what its about.

Sadly, most will never realize that.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"lifestyle choices" on 06/03/2013 10:51:35 MDT Print View

Well, I'm no through-hiker but I hike in the evenings and on weekends and my vacations are generally "stay-cations" where I do the whole Alaska adventure thing right here in my own state. The best thing I've done is I changed jobs several years ago, knocking hours off my daily commute. I now have an 8 minute commute. I took a pay hit to do that, but it was so worth it. I go home at lunch, and it gives me a lot more time in the evenings for hiking. Instead of spending 2 hours on the road, I can spend 2 hours in the mountains. I live just outside the boundary for Chugach State Park, so it's pretty quick to get up into the park.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: lifestyle choices on 06/03/2013 12:57:13 MDT Print View

My Formula --

Since most of us need jobs to support ourselves, priority one should be to find a job you love. That may take training, skills, and education to find the ideal job.

Next step is to live somewhere close to lots of hiking opportunities so it is easy to get out into the wilderness.

Don't let "life" get in the way of "living." Most of us have an inventory of two days off each week and 14 days of vacation -- that's 118 days of potential outdoor activities. And if you have been on a job for a long time, it can be even more.

Go camping, hiking, or backpacking almost every weekend and vacation. These are great family pursuits. And if your family doesn't like backpacking, they'll love it when you go out by yourself so they can spend a few weekends or vacation days doing something else while you are backpacking. This has worked for me since 1977 when I first got married.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: lifestyle choices on 06/03/2013 13:04:13 MDT Print View

I hate having to go back to work right after backpacking.
One time I hiked like a zillion miles and I got back at 3 a.m. Monday morning and woke up at 6 a.m. to work a physical job outside in 110 degree weather.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: lifestyle choices on 06/03/2013 13:26:21 MDT Print View

"I hate having to go back to work right after backpacking.'

Ah... sounds like it is time to find a new job. I like my job and look forward to going back after a trip. The job is exciting, fun, and personally satisfying.

Jason Mahler
(jrmahler) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Work / Life Balance on 06/03/2013 15:32:09 MDT Print View

From 16 to 32 I focused on work. In high school it was 40 hours per week plus school. After high school it was 55-65 hours per week plus school at night. This balance (or lack of) helped me to be decently successful.

Having a child made me realize that I needed more balance and resulted in me changing jobs to be near family and working less hours. I now work 40-45 hours a week and commute 8 minutes each way (was 30-40) in a small town with not much to do other than have hobbies for the first time in my adult life, which is how I got into backpacking.

Overall, I think I have better balance now and still feel successful, just in a different way.

Edited by jrmahler on 06/03/2013 16:43:57 MDT.

Michael Wainfeld
(Adox) - M

Locale: EastCoast
Livin' the Dream on 06/03/2013 18:24:14 MDT Print View

How can we do it? There was an Atomic Ski ad from a few years ago that went something like-Good Job,Big House, Fancy Car-We all make mistakes. Or the Talking Heads line-"My God-What have I done!" But I think you can find the middle ground between ski bum-90 hr/week corporate or whatever. And though I live in the suburbs (LI, NY), I've been able to muddle through, with a 12 min commute, and enough time off for 20 ski days/yr, couple of dayhikes or overnights a month, and a week out west in the summer. As noted above, you just have to want to get out there.

Edited by Adox on 06/03/2013 18:25:31 MDT.

Slugsworth .
mistakes on 06/04/2013 16:26:10 MDT Print View

Michael, I really like that ad! Yeah, I remember being glad that in beyond backpacking Ray J. mentioned that you can't carry debt and do big exciting adventures. I've made a punt of living below my means, keeping overhead low and vacation time as high as possible.

I'm curious how many seasonal workers are in the long distance backpacking world and how many people just saved their pennies and don't work any more.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Work / Life Balance on 06/04/2013 17:07:57 MDT Print View

Whether you save your pennies and retire early, or trade future freedom for lots of vacation time now, just keep this in mind....

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Freedom on 06/04/2013 21:31:21 MDT Print View

Here are some sure fire ways to get more of your bag nights---
** Never reproduce. This one simple act complicates a life and requires humans to renounce long-term living in the woods.
** Work minimally and follow this policy---see how little money you can make and still be happy. The first rule works well with this.

** If you are committed to the backpacking lifestyle, buy an acre or find someone with land and set up a primitive shelter without electricity (ergo w/o mortgage) and chop wood and haul water, etc. Find a 10-15 hour a week job to provide cash for food, etc. Make sure you cannot drive to your shelter and cut a simple foot trail to the thing, thereby backpacking all your stuff in, preferably on top of a ridge.

** Shelter choices are many---yurt, tipi, hogan, witu, permanent outfitting tent, canvas wall tent, etc.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
schedules on 06/05/2013 06:09:35 MDT Print View

When our schedules get tight, we make sure that we schedule in some time in the mountains. Otherwise, we find that it gets overwhelmed by the other stuff in our lives...

But that works. And it makes work a lot more bearable to know we have a trip coming up.

Michael Wainfeld
(Adox) - M

Locale: EastCoast
Livin' the Dream II on 06/05/2013 08:59:26 MDT Print View

I have been thinking alot about this recently; being gainfully employed, 40+ week, taxpayer etc etc.And I did reproduce X2. I remember talking to one of my partners at the time of the Unabomber case. Here we were with mortgages, car payments, credit cards, and it was reported that Ted Kazcinsky only spent $20/yr. That was his whole nut-4 $5 bills. He lived in a little shack in the woods, vegetable garden, snared a few squirrels, rode a rusty old bicycle into town, whittled the bomb parts from wood. The only money he spent was on stamps. Wow. Well, I made my choices, and didn't do any real backpacking for about 25yrs. We car camped a bit when the kids were little, and I have been able to do quite a bit of bicycling, skiing, sailing in the interim.But no backcountry. And I do have 2 real nice offspring. Who knows where I'd be now if I had moved to Truckee, or Carbondale, or Bozeman when I was 20? There are folks too, who go out with toddlers, it is possible. I just couldn't do it.
Anyway, I've been backpacking more the past few years, and really enjoying it.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
Re: lifestyle choices on 06/05/2013 09:20:16 MDT Print View

"** Never reproduce. This one simple act complicates a life and requires humans to renounce long-term living in the woods.
** Work minimally and follow this policy---see how little money you can make and still be happy. The first rule works well with this."

yes, and yes.

i make about nothing (for what i do) and am in my mind "wealthy".
great trade to work in. lovely women. good freinds. decent health. to want more would be greed.

there are sometimes questions as to "how much it costs to take summers off and wander the north". the answer is "it depends". because if you look at it in dollars, that makes sense to some folks, but actually, you can look at it as "it costs me 9 months of walking to keep my job". it all rests on whatever your "coin of the realm" is.

i can assure all that taking 22 summers off in a row will trash your career and retirement account. but, if you have looked at what is obviously coming, any retirement account is valueless that end, not to be one who fails to put their money where their mouth is, i cashed out my accounts, and have enjoyed glorious DECADES of trekking.
decades people.
not two weeks on a cruise ship.
not a trip with overpriced "activities" to yellowstone with the kids .. and wife.
but 2 decades ... of wandering about.

that's it. the time for such luxury allowed the proles is soon enough to be history. and if one can fit in one last romp before only the extremely rich are allowed to roam freely, go for it.

that's it. i gott'a go fix a motor generator, file some warrenty claims, and perhaps toss a box or two of treasured caca archived by my less gifted workmates.


Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Livin' the Dream II on 06/05/2013 09:22:35 MDT Print View

If I could sell my house for what I paid for it 7 years I would quit my job and work part time and hiek the rest of the time, but as the prooperty market in Europe is screwed I got to keep working.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
lifestyle choices on 06/05/2013 09:28:39 MDT Print View

I feel like I have engineered my life to do what I want. I wanted to have kids. I have sired 3 of the best human beings I know. I've worked regularly and have not regretted the sacrifice of time. It's not been a burden. Its given much more meaning and satisfaction to my life than any backpacking trip could do for me. If I'm going backpacking, there is no person I would rather have on the trip.

I have passed up many backpacking trips for coaching their basketball teams and bottle feeding them. And my best trips have all been with them. There's probably a lot I could change for the better in hindsight, but my time with my kids is not one of them.

My youngest will leave in about 3 years. It will be a change for me, no doubt. I'll need to play with grown ups a little more. I hope they are half as much fun.

I don't plan to live like Ted Kazcinsky. It didn't seem to work out that well for him. I think we humans are social beasts. I'm not sure its psychologically healthy for most of us to be loners. I love to get away from everything in the backcountry, but I'm always happy to see friends again too.

Ryan Bressler
(ryanbressler) - F
Working From Home on 06/05/2013 10:17:00 MDT Print View

I was drawn to the dirtbag/fulltime outdoors person lifestyle but as a Diabetic I never quite figured out how to make it work without good health insurance.

I started working right after collage but as I became a better and more qualified software engineer options started to open up. I spent some fun road trips where I would work from cafe's and with cellular internet in between climbs and hikes. Last fall I cleared it with my boss to work full time remote and now my wife and I live a few minutes from some amazing trailheads *and* I'm more productive then I ever was in the middle of the distractions of the office and city.

I think that finding a job I legitimately enjoy is key as it would be hard to self motivate without that and I certainly could make more money working for a large company instead of a more flexible small academic institution but an added benefit of working remotely is that the cost of living is much less here which helps balance things out.

choices on 06/05/2013 22:53:42 MDT Print View

A person can get by on very little.
As liberating as backpacking with a minimal kit is, so is living that way.
You are owned by your possessions, not the other way around.
This is why people like to "get away', vacation, camp, etc.

The problem with people, is they always want what someone else has.
Whether it be a fancy house, fancy car, designer clothing, or a cow skull on a stick.
Matters not if they need it.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Re: lifestyle choices on 06/06/2013 01:30:33 MDT Print View

Peter said; i can assure all that taking 22 summers off in a row will trash your career and retirement account. but, if you have looked at what is obviously coming, any retirement account is valueless that end, not to be one who fails to put their money where their mouth is, i cashed out my accounts

Think it was Warren Buffett who said saving money for old age was like saving sex for old age. Anyways with 3 jobs (1full time, 2 part time), I could always find many weekends to backpack or hang out in town with the old girlfriend - quite a few week-long trips too. In the paper calendar days, I just color coded each job day and looked at the white areas. Even had some weeklong trips but never made it to two weeks, ... Might be something to try.

Edited by hknewman on 06/06/2013 07:24:47 MDT.