I have taken a big decision a couple of months ago: Quit my job and hike the world for one year.
I heard about through-hikes for the first time about 2 years ago. I felt immediately intrigued by the idea of hiking over thousands of kilometers for a couple of months. Living, breathing and feeling the nature, become a part of it, sleeping outside, challenging myself and overcome my fears and limits. I started reading plenty of books by hikers who have done the big through hikes in the US (Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail). I searched the internet and joined Facebook groups, reading everything I could about through-hikes. The idea of a through-hike grew on me.
I am attracted to certain challenges. After starting to run, I wanted to run 10km. After running twice a 10km race, I wanted more and started training for longer distances and ran half-marathons. After doing my first (very light) hiking vacation a couple of years ago in Madeira, I started hiking more and more. Loving the mountains, I wanted to get higher and higher. So I went to Tanzania to climb Mount Meru and the Kilimanjaro. It was tough for me, I wasn’t yet really used to hiking, nor could I train for the mountains in Berlin. I had one of the best moments of my life on top of Mount Meru, crying because I was so happy about my achievement and the whole experience including this incredible sunrise. I had a very bad time on top of the Kilimanjaro. I had made it but I was completely beside myself, crying because of the altitude effects, the effort, not able to stop myself. I didn’t enjoy the moment at the very top. But the next day, I couldn’t feel happier about my achievement. Having continued and pushed myself beyond my limits to reach my objective. Proud of having made it to 5895m altitude. I did more hikes at lower altitude, in the Alps and in Nepal and just love being in the mountains and feeling an incredible freedom. I still dream of making it to more than 6000m altitude one day. But I also have to admit that my body isn’t made for the altitude. I feel the effects early and even with a lot of training, I have difficulties catching my breath hiking uphill. So why not hiking rather a long distance instead of trying to get higher and higher?
What is more, I realized that I am not happy with my work any longer. I started my current work as marketing manager at a global management and IT company just after my studies, more than 9 years ago. I really enjoyed working in a global environment with people from all over the world and the diversity of my tasks. Then last year I had health issues and had quite a difficult year. 9 years is a lot and I felt that it is time for a change. And if I want to make a change anyway, why not grasp the moment and take a year off before heading into the next job. Finding out what I really want to do next, finding myself again and soothing my immense longing for travelling and hiking.
I started looking into concrete ideas for a through-hike. The thousands of hikers at the big trails like the PCT and the bad timing for me (having to start in April) put me off. I had the idea of doing the Great Himalaya Trail, but after my first Nepal experience, I wasn’t ready for spending a lot of time with a guide (mandatory in parts of the trail). I wanted to do something on my own or. But hadn’t I met a couple in Nepal who had hiked a trail in New Zealand? Bingo, the Te Araroa has a perfect timing, perfect place and seems not yet crowded. I started planning, first “warming up” in the Alps, then New Zealand and other adventures in Argentina and Patagonia afterwards. Finally, after many months of reflection, I actually handed in my notice at work. I started detailed planning, booked flights, bought gear, …
I now have 2 months left at my current work and am incredibly busy at preparing my time-off, or my off-time in the nature.