Three months ago I was sitting on a bench in Lincoln City, Oregon staring at the Pacific Ocean and thinking about my future. I had just said goodbye to my coworkers at Outdoor School and was thinking ahead to my plans for hiking the Appalachian Trail in the spring. The plan: go home, visit my family for the holidays, find a part time job, save a little money for food and supplies, and then go hike the A.T. in March with a friend from Colorado. You know what they say about “the best laid plans”? You do, and so do I. The friend that was to be my hiking partner on the AT bailed on the trip in December due to a gross lack of planning even though we’d been discussing this trip for nearly 7 months. If anyone wants to know why I have trust issues, this is why. Despite my frustration, I think I’ve dodged a bullet. You don’t want to be out in the backcountry with someone that can’t stick to a plan, that’s how you die. So, I stopped reading about bear attacks and water purifiers and starting reading my “Washington State Handbook for Unemployed Workers.”
I was (as much as a person can be) prepared for the physical and mental stress of hiking 2,200 miles, sleeping on the ground, cooking all my meals on an MSR stove, and pooping in the woods for 5 months, but I was not prepared for the soul-sucking task of trying to get approved for unemployment benefits. If you ever want to test your patience and will, try calling unemployment every day for two months and being told by a robot that: “the call volume is too high, please try again later.” I can deal with hours of terrible hold music, but I can’t deal with being told by a bunch of ones and zeros that I have to try again later, every single time I call. I think this was mostly a result of trying to call during the holidays (just don’t ever do this to yourself). Without any other options, I kept calling and in January I finally got a human on the phone to help me.
Don’t worry you guys; this is not a sob story. This is a story with a happy ending. While I was dealing with all the unemployment nonsense, I was also applying for jobs left and right. And guess what? I actually got too many job offers.
As of March 4th, I will officially stop being an unemployed worker and will be returning to Orcas Island to hang out with kids at Camp Orkila. I am so excited to board that Ferry in Anacortes and go back to paradise.
And the best part of this tale? In June I will be going to Maine to work as a Wilderness Trip Leader where I will get to, wait for it….get paid to hike sections of the Appalachian trail with kids, including Mount Katahdin, the final peak and finish line for Northbound thru-hikers of the A.T.
Pretty cool right? I think so. It’s been a tough couple of months, but soon I will be back to doing what I love and my adventures in unemployment will be a distant memory.
I leave you with this: