Category Archives: Getting Ready

Day Zero

For better or worse I’m leaving tomorrow for my tramp to Toronto!

I am jet lagged, having arrived in from England in the wee hours this morning. My luggage didn’t arrive and it has some of the clothing I was hoping to take with me. Hopefully I can retrieve it by the end of the day. The weather forecast is not great. But I’m very excited!

A colleague of mine pointed me to the book A Walk to New York by Charles Wilkins, recounting his walking trip from Thunder Bay, Ontario to New York City in 2002. This little extract echoes at least somewhat my own thoughts:

I walked to New York because I felt like it-which is not an explanation people find easy to accept in this age of business plans, mission statements, five-point programs, and endless career or project objectives. I was fifty-three years old, had gotten myself into a rut, and needed a journey, the oldest and still perhaps the best way of resetting one’s compass and reintroducing the possibility of surprise.

As to why I went on foot, the idea was not to move as slowly as possible but merely at the pace of a more observant chapter in human history-to slow things down to where noticing becomes not just possible but unavoidable.

I’ll post photos, starting tomorrow.

Day Minus 17

In April of 1977 I was 23 years old when I read a National Geographic article by Peter Jenkins detailing the first half of his walk across America.  I remember being captivated by the idea of a long walk and have often thought back to that article in subsequent years, wondering whether I could do something like it.  A few years ago I started thinking the time may have come to fulfill that dream.

Just eight months before that National Geographic article appeared, I had moved with my wife from Toronto to the USA to pursue graduate studies, fully intending to return to my beloved Canada after four years.  Thirty-six years later, we are still here, living in Scotch Plains, New Jersey and we have driven the roads between Scotch Plains and Toronto countless times. What would it be like to walk it, I asked myself.

As I researched the possibility, I became aware of legendary walkers like  Jean Beliveau, Gary Hause and Matt Green, and became increasingly confident that by drawing on their experiences I could actually execute my own long-distance walk, modest in comparison to theirs.

So after months of preparation, the time is finally drawing near. Just 18 days from now, on Wednesday, October 9th, I plan to leave my home in Scotch Plains and walk to my grandchildren’s home in Toronto.  According to google, the journey is about 430 miles.  If I can average around 15 miles per day, the trip will take about one month.

I will be pushing a slightly modified jogging stroller with all my gear in it, including camping equipment. As I go, I will update this blog, mostly with pictures, I expect. There are numerous logistics to a trip like this that I get asked about frequently. I expect the answers to those questions to appear over time in the blog, but if you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments section.

I am very excited, but also apprehensive.  One can only do so much planning for a trip like this, and there remain many unknowns, or opportunities for serendipity, as a friend of mine likes to remind me.  I will be alone in this endeavor, so I’m sure that an occasional comment on the blog will buoy my spirits.