Despite its title, Hike Your Own Hike, is not just another Appalachian Trail memoir. It’s a book about applying the lessons of the trail to everyday life and giving yourself the freedom to be happy.
Anyone who’s backpacked for a few hundred miles comes to realize that you can get by, quite happily, without a lot of stuff. The truth is, you don’t need a Range Rover or an Escalade, you don’t need a TV set in every room of your house, and you don’t need a cabin cruiser or a ski house in the mountains. A lot of us get caught up in making enough money to buy these things, raise a family, or put our kids through college, but become miserable wrecks in the process. Is that happiness?
Francis is a triple crown backpacker, who’s hiked the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail (the last twice, back to back). He’s a vegetarian and a super ultralight backpacker. He’s got an ivy league education, a Harvard MBA, and had a successful business career before chucking it all to travel, hike, and write full time.
Francis figured out that he wasn’t happy with his job and his life. He’d walk down the halls at work and ask himself, is this really what I want to do the rest of my life? So he minimized his expenses and his material possessions, applying the lessons he learned as an ultralight thru-hiker to his every day life.
What about you?
By hiking the Appalachian Trail, Francis gave himself 4 months to find out if he could get more out of life. This became his inflection point, where he let himself pursue a radically different direction in life. In doing so, Francis discovered his true passion is to be a travel writer, book author, and backpacker.
Understandably, Francis’ new, itinerant lifestyle is not for everyone, and hiking the AT might not be your inflection point. Francis gets that.
But what Hike Your Own Hike is about, is giving yourself permission to take a break from the everyday groove that you’ve worked yourself into, to try something different that might make you a lot more happy. It’s about reducing the level of fear we all experience when we question our life-course and consider alternative options.
Just weeks before I read Hike Your Own Hike, I decided to create an inflection point in my own life and career, in an astoundingly similar manner to the path that Francis recommends in his book. I came to the conclusion that there were things more important to me than making money and the accumulation of material possessions. So, I’ve gone out on a limb and taken a 3 month leave of absence from my job to pursue a simpler lifestyle, with more time for me and my family.
There’s no doubt in my mind that lightweight backpacking and the freedom and self-reliance that it’s built in me, helped me see another path for my life. So it was uncanny to read Hike Your Own Hike, which comes to the same conclusion and recommended course of action.
If you want a taste of Hike Your Own Hike, you can down load the first chapter of the book from Francis’ web site. Autographed copies are available. Francis donates 50% of the proceeds from the book to help maintain the AT, the PCT, and the CDT.
Disclosure: Sectionhiker received a complementary electronic copy of this book from the author.