Trip Log: How I Camp So Often While Working Full Time

Woman backpacking Pine Ridge Trail to Pine Valley and Pine Falls in Big Sur

Trip Log is a blog series where I rip a metaphorical page out of my trip journal and get a little personal. I’m answering your questions, sharing stories and voicing opinions about the great outdoors. You can subscribe to Trip Log by filling out the form at the bottom of the page. Have a question? Send me a message.

It’s Saturday morning and I’m up at the crack of dawn. I’ve got a three hour ride to the trailhead and a whole lot of distance to cover this weekend.

My destination is the Ohlone Wilderness Trail, a 28 mile (42 km) backpacking trail east of San Francisco. (It isn’t actually that far away from where I live, but it’s a thru-hike so I’m taking snail-paced public transit to the trailhead).

The recommended duration for the Ohlone is three days / two nights, but when I’d booked my permit I suspected I’d be working late on Friday. So instead, I’m hiking the whole thing over two days.

For the first day, I hike 11 miles to Rose Peak, reaching my campsite as the sun is setting. The elevation gain is a tad aggressive, but I’ve got a light pack and an easy-to-follow trail so I move swiftly.

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On the second day, I’m packed up and on the trail by 7:30 am. Today I’ve got 17 miles and even more elevation gain. Plus, I want to get back to my apartment by 5:00 pm so I can prepare for the next day.

Such a schedule leaves little time for breaks, but I still manage to take in the surroundings and take a break here and there. Exhausted and sore, I reach the exit trailhead at 3:45 pm and catch a ride home, arriving at 4:30 pm. Right on schedule. By 5:30 pm, I’ve showered and unpacked my gear. While my photos upload to my laptop, I scan through my schedule for the week and do a little prep for the meetings ahead.

Woman posing at the top of Mission Peak along the Ohlone Wilderness Trail

How do you camp so often while working full time?

When people start reading Voyageur Tripper or following me on Instagram, they quickly assume I work in the outdoor industry. Even the people I went to university with believe I left the corporate world to work as an outdoor educator or wilderness guide.

Not quite.

To their surprise, I say that I still have my traditional office job. I craft PowerPoint slides and I make Excel models (you won’t see me in a blazer though – that’s a line I seldom cross). I also camp… a lot.

The reason for the misinformation is that I don’t talk about my job online. I like to keep those things separate. Plus, I doubt my readers are interested in the flawless pricing model I made or the strategy presentation I’ve sprinkled with perfect icons… they just want to see hiking and canoeing photos.

So once I reveal that I have a full time office job, the natural follow up question is how I’m out camping so often.

And the story I shared at the start of this trip log is essentially the answer. I fit it in wherever and whenever I can. This means a lot of short weekend trips and, occasionally, something a little longer.

A huge part of the reason why I can accommodate a schedule like the above is that I live alone. I don’t have kids to take care of, my partner still lives in Canada and I don’t have any pets.

And if I’m being totally honest, I moved to California during the pandemic, so I haven’t made a lot of friends yet. Those friends that I have made are also into camping, so even my social life revolves around camping.

Sometimes I take it a little too far. I was camping for three of the last five weekends, and I saw my family for the other two. I’m tired and definitely need to catch up on some household chores (and a mountain of blogging work, sorry!).

But being outside is what recharges me and I’m extremely grateful to have the flexibility to camp most weekends.

I also think balancing the outdoors with a career helps me create the resources on this website. Most of the people who read my blog aren’t working in the outdoors. Since I started my career in 2018, every trip and destination I’ve written about could easily be done by someone else with a regular job. I’d eventually love to go back to the longer trips, but for now, I’m content balancing work with frequent, short trips.

Do I have plans to return to the outdoors full time, ever? We’ll save that question for another trip log…


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