A few weeks ago we shared four of our top goals for the new year. I thought this week I’d talk a little about one of those goals – our main goal for the year.
As I mentioned, Shari and I have been planning to thru hike the Appalachian Trail for over six years. This planning took on many forms, from researching the best gear to take and how to resupply while on trail to making sure we could afford a six-month long trip and what to do with our dog.
The research part of the process ended up being the easiest. We spent many, many hours reading gear reviews, watching YouTube videos, and buying and testing different items for ourselves. We had a lot of fun figuring out things like which stove would be best for us and do we really want to carry the extra 1-pound to have a chair (a big YES on that one!!) These things had an impact on our trail life and it was exciting and enjoyable to spend the time and effort getting them right.
It was the things that wouldn’t matter to us while we were on trail that were tedious and stressful. Our long term, big-picture plan from the very beginning has always been to get out of debt and save money, sell everything, hike the AT, buy a van, convert it to a home and travel. Getting some of these things in order seemed to take the most effort.
The first and most important step was to get out of debt and save money. We didn’t have a “mountain” of debt to pay off but looking at all of it combined into one big number was intimidating.
We followed the Dave Ramsey baby step program and were debt free within a year and well on our way to saving money for ourselves, for our future, and for our planned trip.
Downsizing our lives so that everything we own is useful, multifunctional, and will fit into an 84 square foot home is not an easy task. Having the right mindset is key to being successful here and for us, keeping the end goal in mind made a huge difference in what we decided to keep and what we let go. We knew that in the end, our lives would be crammed into a very tiny space that we would be occupying 24/7.
Keeping twenty-six t-shirts and five pairs of shoes EACH wouldn’t do. We whittled down our clothing to the things that we wear over a normal 10 day period and donated the rest.
Getting rid of furniture was easy because we knew we would not be using any of it in our van – not even our bed! Our kitchen items were taken down to the basics that we knew we would be using up until we moved into the van, but most of those items will be donated at that point.
Letting go of personal items that have sentimental meaning was the most difficult. I had 10 quilts that my grandmother made (and that I had had for over 30 years).
All of those found good, loving homes and I have pictures to remember them.
Selling the house was the biggest step in the “sell everything you own” category. You’re homeless! Now what? We are in a very fortunate position to have family in the area who offered us a spare room in their home. We are able to live there until we leave for the trail in mid March and will live there again for a few months when we return while we build out our van. We are so thankful for that!
This is where we are. No debt. Not much stuff. No house. Ready to hike the AT in two months. It feels good to be here, at this point on the timeline of our dreams. We feel free. We feel excited to get back on the trail and continue that journey.
Hiking the Appalachian Trail is a huge goal for us and, thanks to years of planning, we have our lives in order here at home. We are in a great place financially to make this trip and have a strong support system in place with family and friends willing to help in any way needed. This will make our time on the trail so much more enjoyable!
Our friends and family are also extremely excited to follow our journey on our YouTube channel and I can’t wait to start uploading daily trail videos for them to “walk along with us” and see the amazing things we will be seeing.
We have the summit of Katahdin in our sights and are counting down the days until we set foot on Wayah Bald again and start walking north.
Thoughts shared by Kris