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.
You may not be aware of another famous walker, Art Garfunkel, who after his fame dimmed decided to walk across the US
Yes, my sister-in-law mentioned this to me but I hadn’t checked it out yet. That was a SLOW walk — average about 1/50th of a mile per hour over 14 years!
We were talking with Fiona this morning about it . Sounds exciting! Will you be walking there and then “hitching” a ride, so to speak, for the return trip?
Fiona will drive to Toronto in early November and then we will drive home together.
Looking forward to following along with you!
One step at a time!
Very cool, Uncle Allan! I’ve got a question for you – what’s the process for crossing the border? Are you allowed to walk across?
I can walk across the border at the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls. I must remember my passport, of course!
Bon voyage! I trust you’ll be wearing an AT&T (DOESN’T) Care shirt along the way. Strong winds at your back and great weather for the walk!
Thanks Elaine! I chose this time of year because the temperatures should be perfect for walking. It might get a wee bit chilly at night but I have a warm sleeping bag. And I have rain gear so that I can continue to walk when it’s raining.
I’ve told my class of grade 7/8 students that you are embarking on your journey tomorrow. They are very excited to follow your progress, and I have told them that if they are lucky, you’ll come in and regale them with some tales from the road once you make it to Tdot.
I can probably easily make my route pass near your school!
Hi Allan, I recall Fiona telling us about this potential trip back at the block party this summer. May sunny skies warm you and may you have a strong wind at your back. I am very much looking forward to your blog and have sent the link to a few family members and friends.
Thanks Mary Beth!
I too live in Canada and drive back and forth to Church st. Scotch Plains..my hometown!..Curious, what kind of roads under your feet..hwys or rural-ish? Good luck!
I will try to be on rural roads as much as possible. There may be occasional stretches on smaller highways.
Go Allan go!! This is very exciting and I’m pretty pumped for you. We will be praying for your feet, legs, joints, spirits, etc. Patrick would like to know how many shoes you have for the trip, and I’m curious about your food and drink intake along the way.
You can do it!
I have two pairs of shoes. I figure one would do (it’s rated for 500 miles — did you know that running and walking shoes are rated for distance now?) but I brought a second pair in case the first gets wet. One person suggested using them on alternate days as a help for the feet.
I have a bag of food that Diana prepared (mostly bought) for me and I’m slowly making my way through that. So far I haven’t had to touch it very much as I’ve been staying with generous people or in hotels (hotel). I will be glad to get through it, though, as it adds considerable weight to the cart. I’m passing places to eat or buy groceries all the time, so I won’t starve.
If you follow the link to Gary’s Hause’s page that I give in my first post (Day Minus 17) you can see what he eventually settled on. It was a fixed diet of 9000 calories per day that cost him $4.29 if I remember correctly. Both of those numbers are amazing.
I also have a water pack on my back and take sips all day to keep hydrated — this works beautifully.