Sleeping Well

Kenyon Sayler

ONE OF MY DREAMS for retirement was to take four months and hike the Continental Divide Trail. It runs along the backbone of our country, from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. It’s 3,028 miles of beautiful scenery.

Alas, my wonderful wife worries about me hiking alone for months. What if I got hurt? What if I got sick? Our son uses a satellite phone on his treks to keep us up-to-date on his location. I reason that I’d be safe using a satellite phone as well. She isn’t buying that argument.

Simply put, my wife can’t sleep well at night, not knowing how I’m doing.

Which got us to our current compromise. She lets me go on longer hikes with a guide. That way, if I get hurt or sick, there’s somebody to make sure I get the care and attention I need.

We first tried this compromise in 2018, when I joined a group walking the West Highland Way in Scotland. And, to be honest, I really enjoyed it. Instead of sleeping in a tent every night, we walked from guesthouse to guesthouse. Our baggage was ferried between our lodgings. I slept in a real bed every night. I ate a hot pub meal every evening. It really was the best of all worlds.

I enjoyed it so much that I recently hiked the Coast to Coast Walk in England. It’s 192-miles long and passes through three national parks. Apart from the wonderful scenery, the camaraderie, the beds and pub grub, I enjoyed disconnecting from “the real world” for two weeks. No Wall Street Journal. No closing bell update. Not caring what the Fed is signaling.

I’m able to unplug because I’ve heeded Warren Buffett’s advice to “only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.” Our investments are almost exclusively comprised of index funds. I know that we’ll achieve returns remarkably close to the benchmark, regardless of how the markets perform. On top of that, our allocation between stocks and more conservative investments means we should fare just fine, whether the next decade brings the best-case scenario or the worst.

I’m free to pretend the market is shut down for the two weeks of my holiday. It doesn’t matter what happens. I’d hold those same assets regardless of how they perform while I’m away.

So, my wife gets to sleep well knowing that I’m with a group whose leader will look after me should I turn an ankle. And I sleep well knowing that I don’t have to worry about our investments while I enjoy the beauty of the English lakes, moors and dales.

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