About the Author, Jen Beck Seymour: Defying the mantra “work more, spend more”, Jen stepped off the corporate treadmill in 2013 and moved with her husband to Costa Rica, where she lived for 4 years and came to appreciate a more minimalistic and meaningful life. She thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2017 and in 2018 completed the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain. She is the author of six books, including her latest best-seller Chicas on the Appalachian Trail, all of which can be found on Amazon under “Jen Beck Seymour.” When she’s not hiking or writing, she enjoys playing the piano, reading, and making jewelry (check out her line of hiking and AT jewelry!). Find her on her blog, or on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook under “Chica and Sunsets”.
In 2013 I quit my corporate job, and along with my husband, sold almost everything we owned and moved abroad to Costa Rica. It was one of the best decisions of my life!
Kind of crazy for someone like me – I’m obsessed with being on time, organized and having a well-planned out life. Giving up a good income and moving to a foreign country without a full time job didn’t quite fit in my notion of how life was supposed to go.
Of course, I did not make this decision lightly. My husband, Greg, is totally different than me, and this is one of the reasons we work so well together. While he adds spice to my routine way-of-life, I in turn, add sometimes much-needed structure to his. Greg has always been a dreamer, and frequently starts sentences with “You know, I’ve been thinking…” I always listen to him (at least with one ear), and usually respond with something like, “That sounds nice honey. Something to think about…” (and hope he soon forgets all about it).
One Adventure Leads to Another
After four years of living in Costa Rica, we started feeling like we wanted a new adventure; and thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail sounded intriguing to us both. Neither of us can remember who first brought this up, but amazingly enough, I think it was me! I constantly vacillated between thinking who was this new person? and I’m an adventure badass now!
On March 22, 2017 we started our hike of the Appalachian Trail and began living in the woods. It took us six months to thru-hike northbound from Amicalola Falls, GA, through 14 states and covering 2,189.8 miles, to Mt. Katahdin, Maine.
We had heard from previous hikers that PTD (post trail depression) was a problem. Living in the woods for 5-7 months where basics like sleeping, food and water trump “normal” things like work and the buzz of typical life – can make you want to run back to the woods. Returning to your previous life after a thru-hike is shocking and can be very difficult for many.
-Writing a book together. This was fun, challenging, and kept us focused and occupied. We are both authors, but had never written a book together before (which soon presented its own set of difficulties). We liked to go to the public library and sit at separate tables to write, then have a weekly “book club” where we’d look over and edit each other’s chapters and exchange advice.
-Focusing on joy and comfort in small things – a sofa to sit on, ice cubes and water already filtered for us, a hot shower, a comfortable bed to sleep in, hot coffee each morning (we had given this up on the trail), etc.
-Making a photo book of our AT journey (through Shutterfly). This took a lot of work, but my finished product is something I’m quite proud of. I included tons of pictures, but also a small snippet from my journal for each day we were on the trail.
-Traveling to Michigan to housesit for friends (who hiked the AT the year after us) for several months, and fully embracing the Traverse City area – hiking, wineries, music, breweries, and more hiking!
-Having our book edited, working on the edits and then publishing our book!
-Dreaming, planning, and then getting ready for our next hike, the Camino de Santiago in Spain (which we did in the fall of 2018!).
-Keeping in contact with trail family, helping future thru-hikers with questions on Facebook groups and following future thru-hikers on social media.
I guess you could say, being a quitter has lead to the most amazing “winning moments” of my life!
What an amazing, inspiring story! Loved reading this.
Thank you so much, Sierra! — Chica