Well, we have been officially out of the summer months for a week now. The hiking window has been closing for many long distance trails. If the hiking window was not already closed with the current conditions. So, as everyone is preparing for the leaves falling, the cool air, and the change in seasons what comes along with this, what happens in the fall?
For many of our compatriots in the thru hiking community this means it is work season! Time to reset the legs, reset the mind, and reset the bank account. To experience this wonderful life of long distance hiking, there is a lot of work that goes behind it. You do not just snap your fingers and you are out thru hiking on a trail. There is sacrifice, long days, longer months, and work becomes what you eat, sleep and breath to be able to get ready for next season. People always ask how thru-hikers can take so much time off and not have to work when out hiking. There are so many ways that hikers go about this, but the easiest explanation is we consolidate a year of working into a 5-6 month window. We thought we would help explain this question:
Here is a pretty simple math equation that can explain this better:
Let us average out a few numbers and working hours. Let us say that the average full-time employee will work 50 weeks out of the year, and will average 40 hours a week. This would mean out of their calendar year they would be working 2,000 hours.
50 (WEEKS) X 40 (HRS/WEEK) = 2,000 WORKING HOURS / YR
Now let us average out a few numbers and working hours for a thru-hikers working season. Let us say that the "part-time" employee that is a hiker will work 25 weeks out of the year, and this is where it gets different. Instead of averaging 40 hour work weeks, we will average 60, 70, and 80 hour work weeks. This means out of their "calendar" year for working season they would get anywhere from 1500, 1750, or 2,000 hours.
**25 (WEEKS) X 70 (HRS/WEEK) = 1,750 WORKING HOURS / YR
I took the middle average of 70 hours, but we have had many a week that it can be 80 hours plus.
So, even using an average busy week, the hiker will work only 250~ hours less than a "full-time" employee that works all year. They just consolidate and condense all these working hours into their "off-season"
We personally at ElevenSkys have always worked at-least 2 full-time jobs each year to be prepared for the next hiking season. We even worked 2 full time jobs last season as we created this business. Life off trail can be busy so that we can be on trail. As our work continues to grow around trail, our work never stops, on trail, off trail, anywhere you find us we will continue to pursue being the strongest gear company we can be for you!
Enough about us though, what we were talking about was the thought around how someone can take so much time off to go hike long distance trails. How you have to be independently wealthy, have sponsorships, have rich relatives, have stumbled across the lost city of El Dorado at some point along your hikes... But in fact it tends to be pretty straight forward. If you are passionate enough about something you will make it work. Hikers are strong and usually quite stubborn to do what we do, so hey if we have to grind out non-stop for months at a time, so be it.
When looking at the above math equations, it really boils it down to how this is feasible. What those math equations do not tell you as well though is, the individual sacrifices each hiker makes on top of overloading their work schedules.
Next becomes being concise about each action or purchase that can take away from your thru-hiking budget. We have heard so many stories about how and what others have done to accomplish this. Many of these examples can be pretty standard such as; avoiding eating out to much, avoiding frivolous spending on the new "toy" or new gadget, cancelling your cable, and only buying necessities. Yet we have also heard extreme ways people have gone about saving for the next hiking season as well, such as; eating only rice and beans for weeks (too extreme! that is already a thru hikers diet!) cutting off the running water for a few weeks, we have even heard of someone that will not be mentioned not paying for electric for a full month. Yet, for some these might also not be extreme in their eyes. This might just be what is necessary and makes their life more fulfilling and enriching knowing they then can go spend next season on trail somewhere.
So, hiking season is coming to a close, (did it every truly open?!?!) and for many that means back to work. For us at ElevenSkys that only means to continue our work, it never stops, but this is where it has changed for us. We do not see it as work, and we know this is going to be cliche, but when you truly love something you never have to work a day in your life. We are truly honored and so thankful for all the support we have continued to receive as we grow, and follow our life passion, our life work, continuing to be a better and stronger company. A company that can provide each of you with gear that will not need to be replaced, will outlast any adventure, will uphold our and your sustainability values. Take that item off your list for next year's budget, and the year after that, and the year after that...you get the idea. That huge expense that keeps showing up in your budget each year, the gear budget! Well let us help, with the below the waist gear (for now), to help take away that year after year expense. Shorts do not have to be a recurring purchase when choosing gear that will last. Grab a pair of our ElevenSkys shorts today, and then maybe tomorrow who knows, turn the lights back on????
COMING SOON: THE FALL LINE, WE CALL IT THE TURTLE SHELL, SO MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE THAN JUST ONE PACK, IT FEELS LIKE YOUR ENTIRE BODY IS BEING HUGGED EVERY STEP. CURRENT PRODUCTION TIME MAY VARY DUE TO HIGH DEMAND.
(just in case anyone was wondering, we are NOT actually producing a two-pack pack.)
A little laugh for those in need that are picturing those long work week hours again. Don't worry the trail will be there again next year, and hopefully we will have a new product for you by then too!