As it turned out, procedures had changed a bit. It used to be at this job, job R let's call it, that you fill out a form asking for time off. It's reviewed over a couple of days and then approved or not. The verdict is delivered to your little "mail box."
I filled out the time off form and then went weeks without hearing anything. And hell, I asked for a month off. That's a bit of time. I figured it was a no and never wanted to get that news for sure so I never made it a pressing point to inquire.
And I figured I didn't know what I was going to do. Things were in motion in and of themselves now; the event horizon had been reached. We were going to attempt the JMT. By this point in time, August's infancy, I had most of the gear we needed. The packing and food planning was set. My mind started churning out plans of how to take off a shorter time, how to hike faster, and that my default plan would be to vacate my job position.
The day came when I could wait no longer and I asked. I found out that the procedure for taking time off had changed. Instead of getting a hard copy of your approval, the paperwork just went in a file cabinet. You check your file to see if you are approved.
I learned this.
I checked my file.
Sitting in there was the original form I'd submitted with a couple of scribbles on it. They were signatures of approval.
I don't think I'll ever forget that moment. It was succinctly happy. True happiness. Relief, joy, responsibility, freedom all rolled into one emotion.
Though we were planning on going and getting everything ready, the last potential barricade was out of the way. It was smooth sailing to California from here. After seeing the approval signatures penned in red ink, it was a clear shot. Nothing was standing between my wheels on the ground in Texas and my feet on the ground in California except 1200 miles of road and some days.
The preparation continued. Gear getting, item testing, meal planning, logistics. Anticipation continued to build.
We were planning on leaving August 24th or so. This gave Lindsey time to wrap up her final days working her internship, it gave us time to pack our lives and our house and move them all into limbo in San Marcos while we cleaned, turned in keys, and said goodbye to the best neighborhood in Austin. Our plan- We'd move everything into temporary storage at her parent's house. We'd pack. We'd leave on the 24th. We'd be hiking on the 27th.
A wise old man I met in Maine once told me: "The best of plans are always subject to failure."
I had an interview for a job at Job R. A new position doing something a little more exciting than what I'd been doing. I was offered the job a couple weeks into August and I accepted.
THe new position required special training would be in Early September…It couldn't be any other time because the trainer was flying in from far away. So instead of leaving the 24th of August, my training would be over on September 2nd.
Which pushes us back to a really late start date. Weather in the Sierra Nevadas in September…unpredictable. In October- cold, snow, winds, and outside of prime hiking season. More importantly, as we'd learn, this shoulder season where most folks are back to their fake american lives sees many services like shuttles, resupplies, stores, and hiker amenities shut down.
I did the math: training was scheduled for the 3rd and 4th of September which would put as on the trail on the 6th at the absolute earliest with direct travel via Honda Fit. 7th would be more realistic. Plus 21 days of hiking…and we're at the highest point of the lower 48 right around October 1st with gear that we'd purchased without the harsh Sierra seasonality in mind.
Wrench --> plans.