Thru-Hiking Away The Recession

A bum economy and a dearth of jobs drives more hikers to tackle the Appalachian Trail

If 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.

Spending $3,000 of your own money and abandoning the job search might seem like horrible idea right now, but for some, it even turns into a positive career move. Thru-hikers and section hikers alike sometimes find broad networking opportunities through the people they meet on the Appalachian Trail.

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.

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."

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.

—Ted Alvarez

On the Appalachian, some hike off the recession (NPR)