Admittedly, 2018 will go down as one of my favorite years. I knew that hiking across New Zealand followed by an awesome summer job working in three national parks followed by a European adventure would be a hard act to follow.
In December, we got back to our house in Asheville and started applying for jobs. Luckily, we were distracted from our situation by training for a race: John was training for the 40 mile Mount Mitchell Challenge and I was training for the 26 mile Black Mountain Marathon (same day, same course, John just had to run further- to the top of Mount Mitchell). I was annoyed at the time that we had these races to train for because I was tired of running and sick of trying to train in the winter. But looking back, it was good for us because we still had a goal to strive for, and we were also able to stay physically active. This has always helped with anxiety and the winter blues which always ensue at the end of a long hike or adventure.
We applied for the Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers position thinking we had a good shot this year having worked for them over the summer. Unfortunately, their hiring process took several months which did not help with the aforementioned anxiety.
Luckily, we still had connections in Asheville, and we started working again with Blue Ridge Hiking Company. I also started applying for engineering jobs again, and John started applying for environmental jobs. To cut a long story short, we were not offered the Leave No Trace position, but we both were offered jobs in our respective fields. I decided to turn down a promising sales engineering job in favor of a part-time job working for Jennifer Pharr Davis (owner of Blue Ridge Hiking Company) as her Director of Corporate Sales. Who knows if that was the right decision, but I’m pretty happy with it. The fancy title means that I’ll be helping her to book talks at businesses. She’s an amazing speaker and author, and if you don’t know who she is, you should look her up – she shattered the gender gap in hiking by being the first female hiker to break the overall record on the Appalachian Trail. Pretty impressive. Knowing she hiked 46 or 47 miles per day for a month and a half has given me a lot of inspiration over the years.
Meanwhile, John accepted a job working part-time with some old colleagues as an Environmental Scientist. With both of us working part time, we have been able to also start guiding again with Blue Ridge Hiking Company. In fact I just guided the first backpacking trip of the season, and it reminded me how much I love guiding hikes.
Although we’re going to be hustling a lot this year, we do have the flexibility to do some personal hiking, and while the guiding season is still young, we thought we’d take advantage of some extra time by hiking the Bartram and Foothills Trails.
The Bartram Trail is about 115 miles long and runs through North Carolina and Georgia. We’re going to hike it southbound (NC to GA). The trail roughly follows the route that William Bartram, a botanist from the 18th century, took . He must have covered many more miles, however, as he traveled for several years all over the southeast taking notes on the local flora and fauna. The Bartram Trail connects to the Foothills Trail, which is a 76-mile trail in South and North Carolina, and apparently has some amazing wildflowers in late March, which we hope to encounter.
As usual, I welcome you to join us on this roughly two-week adventure! More blog posts to follow!