My job is to help folks find a path to happiness in retirement. Time, experience, and curiosity have accumulated into knowledge that I try to impart to my firm’s financial clients, radio and podcast listeners, and readers. One of my rewards is hearing the stories told by the people who take this advice to the next level.
Pat and Paula Roberts live in a small town in Florida. One might think their idea of adventure would include the sun, the sand, and an ocean view. Not for these two. This year they decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, a two-thousand-mile public footpath along the Appalachian Mountains that spans from Georgia to Maine.
Pat and Paula at the start of their journey
“What we lack in experience, we make up for in enthusiasm and tenacity,” they said. And they weren’t kidding.
Starting in Georgia, they’ve been to North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont. And they aren’t stopping there!
They’ve seen bears in the Smoky Mountains and somewhere in New Jersey. They’ve been chased off their path by a rattlesnake, created their own trail names (Paula is YOLO, Pat is Santa), survived a bout of pneumonia, and walked across the Hudson River. I’m not sure who’s been feeding their cats, but knowing Pat and Paula, it’s all covered.
Bear sighting in the Smoky Mountains
Rattlesnake sighting in TN
Pat and Paula’s ‘deluxe apartment in the sky’ in Asheville, NC. courtesy of REI
Pat and Paula reach the 1000-mile mark in Connecticut
Their trip has been about physical goals but also about a yearning for human interaction. “An interesting phenomenon happens on the trail. People sometimes come into your hike, you strike up some form of trailship with them and you will either continue to run into them from time to time, or they may just be gone.” They mention other hikers with equally inventive trail names. “The D’s, White Socks, Sam, Love Bug, and Turbo seem to just always be around. We may lose sight of them for a few days, but then bam, there they are, either at a shelter or at a resupply town. We hope this trend continues.”
I have faith that this trend will, indeed, continue.
Pat and Paula with a few members of their hiking community
In the Southern Appalachian, Pat and Paula came across a Spruce-fir Forest covering an area known as “Clingmans Dome.” They described it as a fairyland. That’s the way happy retirement works. If you’re willing to take the steps along the trail, you’ll have the chance to see your own fairyland.
Clingman’s Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The happiest retirees are eager to explore the world. Passion and curiosity keep us young and vibrant. Do you know what your core pursuits are? It’s time to begin your journey.
If you want to stay up to date on the rest of their journey, follow Pat and Paula here: https://thetrek.co/author/patpaularoberts/
Please note, Pat and Paula have given us permission to share their story and photos.