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Hiking My Own Hike – A One Year Reprospective

Zealand Mountain, New Hampshire
Zealand Mountain, New Hampshire

I quit my corporate job, a year ago this week, to go my own way. After 20+ years of work in the software and internet industries, I was bored with what I was doing and I couldn’t see that my work was having any positive impacts on society at large. See my post Hiking My Own Hike from last year for the nitty gritty.

I decided that I needed to do something pretty radical to add some spice back into my life. Outdoor recreation and blogging about it on Section Hiker had become a refuge, so I decided I’d have a go at making a living as an outdoor writer and educator. I was ready to trade income for the ability to have a direct and positive impact on other peoples lives. That may sound hopelessly romantic, but I was raised in an era and a home where service to others was encouraged and I married into a family with the same values.

Having more time and greater freedom to do what I want (as long as I get a note from my wife) has made all the difference. In addition to my writing here, I’ve been able to do more public speaking about hiking and become much more active as a leader and instructor with several hiking clubs and organizations. These activities are especially rewarding to me because they¬† help me see what people want or need to learn to become more self-sufficient and confident in their outdoor skills. It’s too easy to lose touch with the beginner’s mind when you become a pundit and don’t have regular one-on-one contact with your audience.

Zeacliff and the Pemigewasset Wilderness
Zeacliff and the Pemigewasset Wilderness

On the business end, I’ve been more successful this first year than I could have expected. I’m definitely hustling to make ends meet, but there is a certain satisfaction in building a business and good business relationships from the ground up. On the flip side, my wife and I have made substantial changes to our spending habits and lead a much simpler and frugal life, like going to the art museum on the weekday nights when it’s free and stopping our cable TV service. I even worked out a work-study deal with my yoga studio, providing maintenance work in exchange for unlimited yoga.

With all of this free time on my hands, you’d think that I’d be spending even more time hiking each year. Surprisingly, that hasn’t happened because I am married to the same woman and maintaining that relationship takes as much work and attention as it ever did.

What has changed is the quality and duration of my trips. Instead of hiking every weekend to get away from work stress, I’m taking fewer but much longer trips and spending more time savoring destinations than blowing on through. That means stopping earlier in the day to camp at a picturesque location or practicing my fly fishing when I come across a nice stream. I never would have expected that last year, but not having to rush through a hike, or life, is a great thing.


  1. Phil, you're one of the best role models I can think of. I absolutely love your idea, and I aspire to that kind of life in general. I know it takes a lot more work than it looks like, which I guess must mean you're doing it well. I think it also helps that you laid some very important groundwork for this kind of life before starting it. A few of my hiking friends did the same– quitting their "real" jobs while they were ahead so they could focus on living their dreams.

    Having just moved in with my girlfriend and started trying to live a "normal" life after several years of adventuring, I'm feeling a bit of a shock from going in the other direction that you have, but I didn't have any direction in the past few years aside from wanting to keep away from normal society. You seem to have a much smarter approach (age and wisdom help, of course!), blogging and teaching with purpose. It should go without saying, but I've enjoyed your blog immensely in the past few years since discovering it, and I think you deserve all the success that your hard work has earned.

  2. Any article that starts with, "I quit my corporate job…" is worth reading — thx for sharing

  3. Glad it continues to work for you. Good job.


  4. Role Model? Dude, I'm not that old!

  5. Role model doesn't mean old. It just means you seem to have a good handle on life.

  6. New dawn and a new day. Glad its starting to work for you.

  7. I intend to do much the same but I have a year or two to build up the base towards quitting my government job. I wish you all the best and applaud both your decision, your guts and your perseverance.

  8. It feels like more and more of us are going that route. I often refer to my business as a lifestyle designed company, but we still have some very traditional roots. We are working at blending elements of our lives (kids, sports, practices) into the work schedule blurring the lines between what is work and what is play.

    I'm very glad to see that you are finding success with your transition.

  9. Thanks guys – I am enjoying myself. Ryan – just pulling your leg a little.

  10. Enjoying yourself??? This is supposed to be work, isn't it?

    If you do not enjoy what you are doing then there is something wrong. Do the things you like to do and you will always be good at it. You certainly have your priorities straight. Making money, well…that's another problem…

  11. I really enjoyed meeting you at OR this summer Philip – it is great to hear that things are working out for you.

    @Tim: Rather than think of a work/play separation I like to think of life as a long string of activities. Some earn income, others don't. Either way we should be living life following our passions.

  12. That's okay, Phil. I wasn't pulling your leg too much, either :)

    I'm still looking forward to a weekend or day-hike with you one of these days. Who knows when, but it looks like the foliage is pretty nice right now in some places.

  13. Congrats Phil! Keep up the great work, love reading the posts and seeing your adventures.

  14. Congrats, a big landmark for sure. Livin' the dream is hard work! :)

  15. i'm in the IT world and understand your plight. i am in state government and support the park service and used to be on the road much more and got to enjoy the parks. 5 years ago i was promoted and now i don't have that outlet and this has become just like any other soul crushing office job :)

    i wish you a very positive and successfully 2nd, 3rd, and 17th year!

  16. soul crushing – ah yes, an apt description. All too common I'm afraid.

  17. I know how you feel Phil and I am glad to see you took the steps to make yourself happy! They say doing what you like to do removes 90% of life's stress and leads to a long life, So maybe like your Dad you'll reach 90..After 38 years of basically doing what I didn't want to do I also had the oppurtunity to dump the Suit, the Meetings, and the stress of working with selfish, self absorbed people and retired. That was 9 years ago and I haven't missed it at all… I hope you'll feel the same in two or three years like I have after 9 years…

  18. eddie – it took about 1 year for me to get back down to a normal stress level. It's amazing the difference. I am actually calm again. I've broken the multi-tasking addiction that that I so wanted to get away from, the interruptions, etc. Is this normal? I think so.

  19. One Sunday afternoon while hiking a short section of the PCT, climbing that section from Scissors Crossing and up the hill and winding through the little in's and outs I had this "driven" feeling with me and when I reached the Cattle Guard and had just finished drinking some water a Trail Angel left, I suddenly felt this huge sense of relief as if something ugly and evil had just left my body and since that day I was a free man…It was amazing!

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