|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
A bum economy and a dearth of jobs drives more hikers to tackle the Appalachian TrailIf life gets crappy, it's difficult to stay in a bad mood if you're on a trail. It's a credo that serves BACKPACKER readers well, but folks hit hard by the recession are discovering it, too: A crippled economy is driving more and more people to give the Appalachian Trail a shot.
For Rusty Towery, taking this much time away isn't difficult at all. Nicknamed "Wheeler," he was laid off in November from construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar. He sees this as an amazing opportunity.Finally, some good press for the Appalachian Trail after a week of titillating scandal. Now, if your significant other learns you're hiking the AT, it doesn't necessarily mean you're cheating. You could be looking for a new job.
One unexpected perk of his trip has been the chance to do a little networking. He might even have a job when he reaches Maine in September.
"I had a few things come about from the trail," he says. "Oddly enough, it's been pretty productive in that regard."