Because in the end…

…you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain. -Jack Kerouac

I miss being this person.
Benton MacKaye Trail, 2012
My last day, with Alan the Alien

On December 3, 2021, on my 11-year Springerversary (the day I completed the Appalachian Trail), I left what had long been my dream job. Basing my life out of Two Harbors was a joy – I found it possible to camp out 52-70 nights per year. This year I completed a goal to camp at every Superior National Forest campground. I’ve had many journeys like this, all of which enriched my life since 2015.

Although the work I did was fulfilling and I truly believed in the mission, I found myself becoming more unhealthy as the years went on. I could no longer quickly rebound with a short vacation like I could during my first years. I was grateful for the opportunities I was given, but I knew it was time to focus on my mental and physical health.

For years, I worked hard at my position and I lived frugally. I was able to pay off my student loans and save enough to take a year off of work, so I am creating a sabbatical to meet my needs. This is only possible because of the support and help of my family and the many privileges I’ve had in my life and I’m very grateful. I look forward to feeling like a human again soon.

What am I going to do with a year off of work?

  • Sell my house, Little Villekulla
  • Renovate a new space to live in near Willow River
  • Sleep. A lot. My first two days off, I slept a cumulative 21 hours
  • Spend time with family and be present for various health situations
  • Participate in events I have always wanted to attend but have never been able to, such as Book Across the Bay
  • Work on creative projects I have not had time for, including a project I call “CLOP”
  • Read books. I’ve barely read since 2017. I miss reading…
  • Hike. A lot.

What trails are on the horizon? Well, I am 100% open to my plans changing, but here is what I am thinking about:

  • Foothills Trail (SC-NC)
  • Bartram Trail (GA-NC)
  • Smokies (TN-NC)
  • Continental Divide Trail (MT-NM) – if not all of it, at least Montana.

I also plan to visit as many wilderness areas as possible.

2021 was hard. I lost my two pets, including Mitsie, the best pet I ever had. I lost the stability of a job and I am in process of saying goodbye to my house. I lost a few friends — to old age, COVID, and white supremacy. I sprained an ankle and lost some mobility. I lost faith in the place where I lived, as I watched the town make some terrible decisions. I even lost the only online video series I watched! Yes, it’s a tiny thing, but man. It’s been a lot.

I will believe that 2022 must be better. We could all use a win.