John, Good Badger readers. Shake hands, grab a beer, and tell one funny story about yourselves.
Because I’ll be spending all day, every day, for approximately 180 straight days with the same person, it’s important to me that you too become friends with my travel companion, John Guiney.
And because I’ll be keeping you guys abreast to the greatest of my capacity, it’s inevitable that you’re going to get to know him. Probably more intimately than either of you would ever like. The Good Badger Appalachian Trail of Chronicling Heroism (GBATCH) will be a lot of things. Censored is not one of them. When John signed up to do this 2,179 mile trek with yours truly, in no way did he realize what he was getting himself into. John, you are at the mercy of my brain, mountain air, dirt, whiskey, and my glass case of emotion. Deal with it.
But in all sincerity, without John, I would not be doing this trek. This is true for a couple of reasons:
1) Doing this by myself would assure death faster than jumping from the top floor of the Sears Tower and
2) For the longest time, this was his journey. He’s been planning this for years. I just so happened to invite myself along.
And for this, I sincerely thank him. I’m a firm believer that the universe conspires to put opportunities and events in front of us to help maximize our potential. I took the cosmos’ bait.
I asked John to write a little bit about himself, his background, why he’s doing the AT, and of course, to draw a cat (threats were involved) (as it turns out, my scanning skills aren’t what they used to be. John’s cat gets cut off a bit, but the original reads “I can haz typo”. Now you see why I feel comfortable with my life in his hands.)
Meet John Guiney
So this is me…
2010 was a big year for me, John A Guiney. Aside from reinventing myself in San Diego, 2010 brought surprises.
And not just the kind where your mother contacts a TV show because “she cares about you” and no longer wants you to look like “Urban Decay” (yeah she said that). But instead would like you “to look more presentable”. But the kind that comes with the anxiety and excitement of writing a thesis and finishing Grad School.
The one constant throughout 2010 was my job.
Though I knew that my career as a “web designer” had not panned out exactly as I wanted, it was steady, and secure, but it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t love staring at a backlit screen all day, or sitting in an 8 X 8 beige cube; but with increasing bills I couldn’t very well just get up and walk out. Instead I began living my life on autopilot, dreaming of being outdoors and on vacation.
In October, as talk around the office refocussed on “The Fall Classic” (office code for yearly layoffs), my mind began to wander. I saw a blirb about the Appalachian Trail, the longest footpath on the East Coast, it stuck with me and the AT started popping up everywhere. It began to engulf me (on Thanksgiving, I even passed out only to wake up to an Appalachian Trail special).
I became infatuated with the trail, and the idea of living like a nomad. For some time I had joked about buying an island and leaving technology behind. I did not have the finances to even attempt this societal exodus, but on the trail I could at least taste this lifestyle. I could spend 4 – 6 months withdrawn from all the creature comforts of modern society.
The plan started to take shape. I spent hours researching and reading about the AT. I found a hiking partner and began to plan for an April 1st, 2012 departure. Ideally I would have liked to hike he entire AT before turning 30, but work and life were not going to allow for it. So instead I would plan on spending my 30th on the trail; no “Dirty 30”, no “Mustache Party”, just Zach and I hiking (maybe I would do 30 miles on my 30th).
October came and went, as did November. Talk of the “Fall Classic” subsided and I settled in for another year of loathing my beige walls, while dreaming of days and nights under the open sky. I redecorated my cube to resemble the outdoors and read Bill Bryson’s a “Walk in the Woods” and How to Hike the AT to keep the idea fresh in my mind. I told a few close friends and family. I couldn’t wait 2012 was going to be a BIG year.
Early December crept in and the office was officially back to business as usual. On Dec. 6th, I was notified by SDSU that my thesis had been accepted; I was an MBA. That same day I decided to make moves. Coincidentally, the internal job postings, for the first time, had listed a job that I was not only qualified for, but interested in. I immediately grabbed the post and went to talk with my boss. I spent the next two days talking to everyone about this promotion, revamping my resume, practicing interview questions, and on Dec. 8th I got a text from my boss…
“Hey missed you before you left, Let’s meet tomorrow morning”. There it was, tomorrow I would get my chance.
On December 9th, 2010, I walked into work, wearing the company dress, company laptop under my arm, ready to take on any new challenge that they wanted to throw in my direction.
By 9 AM, I was informed that my “positions was eliminated”; By 10 AM, I was being escorted out of my old office with my belongings packed into 2 1/2 boxes. As I walked out, I glanced back at my desk to catch one final glimpse of my computer and the life I had compiled over the previous five years. There I was an ex-web designer, with no job, and no computer. I was free of the technology and over-connectedness that I had grown to despise, but I was also lost. That same technology that I had hated had helped define me, sup[port me, and now I had nothing. Well nothing except a dream… to thru-hike the AT.
The next nine days were a blur, a mix of spliffs, whiskey, and beer. On the tenth day I made a decision. I was not going to let other people determine my worth. Being “Eliminated” was a blessing in disguise, if I was being forced to wander in 2011, I would do it on my own terms. I had found my drive once before and I would find my path again. If I was going to wander, I was going to wander with a purpose. I was going to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 2011.