Monday, April 7, 2014

Appalachian Trail Expense Breakdown preliminary

I think one of the best ways to show we're serious about this hike will be to chronicle everything that goes into planning the journey. One of the biggest things, for me, is finances. Every month, or every major marker in donation/savings process, I'll make an expense report with gear bought and maybe findings on how much other hikers have spent on resupplies and the like.

I'm going to be completely up-front and honest here and it may get a little heavy, so bear with me. I'm pretty open about my struggle with mental illness, and the past 3 years I've been waging all out war with debilitating clinical depression. It's robbed me of a good chunk of my 20s, a decade that I'm under the impression is supposed to be filled with adventure and self-discovery. I spent most of my mid 20s tucked away under covers, wondering if it was really worth it getting through the day. (More on this when I write my "why I hike" post for the AT). It also left me stagnant in my career goals and now I'm left financially in a rut. However, if I'm going to do this hike and move on with my life, the time is now. It's next year or bust.*

That's why I'm calling on family and friends to help me hike this hike not just for myself but for a cause I care deeply about. Hiking for BECA will be a great way to get my life back on track. But I can't do it alone.

The 20,000 I plan to raise for BECA is intentionally hefty. Under everything else, I'm a bit of an optimist and I believe that if you're going to strive for something, shoot for the stars. I'll also be contacting philanthropic outdoors companies (mostly retail in nature) to help raise money and possibly donate. Each donation, no matter how small, goes towards improving the lives immeasurably for children in Honduras through a comprehensive education. Even if I only make $100, or $1500, or go above and beyond my goal, each and every dollar is important.

Now to the nitty gritty expenses for myself. It usually costs $1000/mo to hike the Appalachian Trail. These expenses go towards food, resupplying, and a night or two in town. Hot showers, hot meals, and clean laundry don't come cheap. However, I'm a master of living on a budget; the only thing that concerns me is dietary needs. Should resupplying food get to be too expensive, then there's an issue. As it stands, I'm shooting to raise $5000 to cover the bulk of expenses. Yes, I WILL be saving up my own money in the meantime as well, and update the money raised as "offline donation". I do not expect others to carry this financial burden for me completely, but the truth is I can't hike for BECA if I can't even  hike for myself. 

Then there's the matter of student loans. I'm very lucky that the only major bills coming out of my pocket is my student loan debt. I could apply for economic hardship deferment, but this may prove detrimental should I pursue applying for the Peace Corps in the future (another dream I put on hold due to my health). My student loan payments as of now are $241/mo. Hiking for 7 months (the absolute maximum I see us out on trail), that means it will  cost me (7x241) $1687. 

Therefore, $1000/mo (assuming a setback and we take 7 months to complete the trail) + $1687 to cover student loans means I'll need, at minimum, $8687. This doesn't even include the cost of gear I don't yet own (the two major expenses I forsee being trekking poles and a cold-weather sleeping bag since my 30 degree bag isn't cutting it for anything colder than 45 F). I'm only looking to raise $7000 for myself at the absolute most - if I can save up through my jobs more, great, and anything else donated will go to BECA (or possibly one of the other causes we considered). I'm not being quite as optimistic here that people will help me meet this goal if only because I realize the reality of what I'm asking. In the meantime, I'm already framing out ideas for our book (maybe putting the cart before the horse - we have to start and finish the hike first, I know!) and will be putting up prints of my photography for sale.

For those of you who have donated, thank you so much! You guys will keep me going out on the trail, literally and figuratively. For those of you who plan to donate to either myself or BECA once you see we're sticking with it, you're awesome and I thank you for following our progress. And even if you don't donate, I understand! Thank you for being a part of our journey as well. Please, pass on the word to family and friends.

No comments :

Post a Comment