Thoughts on being wealthy

Joan worked as a research scientist in a past life in the sprawling Atlanta metro area. Weekends ended up being a polite fiction and most Sunday’s saw her in a lab rather than in the mountains.

Me? For nearly twenty years, I worked in the technology field. I dreaded my on-call weeks and even during my so-called free time, I’d often be too tired to enjoy time in the mountains.

We both made career changes. Joan works for the park service; I’m making a go of writing, guiding, and an odd job or two to supplement the income.

Our combined household income is not even half of we used to make. Our cars are both 2005 vintage. And our home in Moab gets described as “cozy” by most.

But we feel so much wealthier than we did in the past.

We have the gift of time. A precious gift that is the most valuable asset for any outdoors person.

Joan is on furlough and about to hike roughly 500-miles on the Pacific Crest Trail before her job starts up again in August. And I have the privilege of driving her out to her California start before I start a guiding gig in Yosemite.

Our choices don’t work for everyone but they do work for us.

I am sitting by a stream near a trailhead in eastern Nevada and sipping a beer. Tomorrow morning we will backpack up to a high plateau of over 10k ft and plan on going to a summit of over 11k ft.

We have no real agenda and our time frame is loose. Maybe we will spend a night there; maybe two.

But we can make that choice.

And we are much happier for it.


5 Replies to “Thoughts on being wealthy”

  1. I’m happy for you both! I think the lack of time to get outdoors due to work schedules, children, etc, is one of the reasons so many folks are obsessed with gear. It often gives people a sense that they are buying the outdoors- a passport to adventure. In reality, gear is useless without time and time can’t be bought.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about how my career choice is affecting my essential time in the backcountry. I don’t think I’ll be quitting my job anytime soon but I found a nice option for now. I recently started working a new schedule that gives me a three day weekend every other weekend and it has been great. If I want to do a longer trip, I can add a day or two of vacation to that and then have a good chunk of time. Right now, it is working well.

  2. I admire your outlook. I imagine it takes some planning skills to find just the right balance. A meaningful job, and a way to make a living wage, AND the time to enjoy what you love doing and not feel rushed or pressured to fit it into a tight time frame. Good for you.

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