Frequently Asked Questions
What is Dudetrek?
Why Walk Across America?
Where Did You Go?
How Did You Prepare?
What Did Your Parents Think?
What Gear Did You Use?
What Did You Eat?
Where Did You Sleep Each Night?
What Are You Doing Now?
My name is Jonah Boyer, I am 20 years old, and I walked across America. I started on August 31st, 2012 in Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware, and ended in Point Reyes National Seashore on July 25th 2013. At first, I followed a very specific route without deviating from my plan. Over time, I learned to just go with the flow and see where the wind takes me. I met so many amazing people and saw many amazing things over those 11 months. Be sure to read my blog and check out some of the pictures and videos I took to share my experience!
The simple answer is “For Fun!”. Truly though, there were many reasons for embarking on this quest. The idea crossed my mind during my senior year of High School. I felt pressured to decide what I was going to do with the rest of my life, and I didn’t feel ready to make the decision. I have always loved the outdoors, staying in shape, meeting new people, and trying new things. The choice seemed natural. While I had (and still have) many passions and many goals, I simply decided to pursue them in an alternative direction. This does not mean I am never going to college, this just means my craving for adventure comes first. I often consider the comparison between knowledge and wisdom. In my mind, college offers greater knowledge while walking across America offers greater wisdom. Nevertheless, it is mainly about having fun and learning along the way.
I walked through Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California. I walked through the flat farm lands of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern shore, through the marshland near the Chesapeake Bay, along the rocky Potomac River, up and over the remote Appalachian Mountains, through the hills of Eastern Ohio, into the sandstone cliffs and caves in the Ohio River valley, over the surprisingly rolling hills of Indiana, past the massive bluffs and open farmland in Illinois, up the Mississippi during a time of drastically low water levels, through the forested Northern Ozarks of Missouri, across the great plains of Kansas, up and over the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, in and out of the canyons in Utah, through the sweltering desert heat of Nevada, and amongst the lush greenery and seaside cliffs of California. Not only did I see hundreds of state parks and forests, and dozens of national parks and forests, but I walked through the downtown areas of Washington DC, Morgantown (WV), Columbus (OH), Cincinnati (OH), Louisville (KY), Bloomington (IN), Evansville (IN), and St. Louis (IL, MO), Kansas City (MO, KS), Colorado Springs (CO), Denver (CO), Provo (UT), Reno (NV), Sacramento (CA), and San Fransisco (CA). It’s was a wild ride and I can’t wait to try the Pacific Crest Trail in April 2014!.
My planning and preparation began around October of 2011. At that time, I was just toying with the idea of forgoing my college experience for a year, to do something unconventional and exciting. I thought about sailing around the world with a fishing crew, or hiking the Appalachian Trail before deciding that walking across America was what I truly wanted to do. I began reading about others that had done this cross-country walk and also did a lot of research about how to be most efficient with my gear. I spent hours and days and weeks with various maps- both online and on paper. I cross-referenced as many as I could and put all the information on Google Maps so I could show it to anyone that wanted to see. I also kicked my fitness into overdrive. I would run on the roads and trails around my house, play ultimate frisbee with my friends every single day, do pushups and sit-ups, and go on practice hikes with my backpack as often as possible. I sent emails to potential sponsors to try to get deals on gear. Less than 1% replied positively, but those few companies saved me hundreds of dollars in equipment costs. Meanwhile, I was still trying to get through my last year of high school on a high note- balancing my school activities with the seemingly short amount of time I had to chill with my friends before we all went separate ways. I graduated and before I knew it summer was almost over. I was as ready as I could be, but I was stressing out because I wasn’t sure if I was ready, even up to the day I left. My parents drove me to the beach on the morning of August 31st, and from then on, life has been surreal.
When I first told my parents, they were worried that I was making the wrong decision. I didn’t apply to college anywhere and they worried about how this may impact my future, especially if I wasn’t able to make it past the first week of walking. As I made more and more progress towards preparing for my departure, their questions changed from “What if…” to “How can I help?”. Now that I’ve made it this far, they have embraced the idea and support me 100%. Ultimately, they still worry about me constantly, whether I’m on the trail or not but that’s their job. It took time to show them that I was serious and very dedicated, but now they are my biggest supporters and I find great motivation from that.
Check out my Gear Page to see everything I used while walking Across America.
My diet was anything but consistent. I used military MRE’s and dehydrated Mountain House food that I ordered online, had my dad ship to a post office, and picked up whenever I get there. Most of the time however, I just ate whatever was available at the stores in the towns I pass through. Usually, this meant Pop-tarts, bread (I’ll squash it down into a ball so it saves space), dry cereal, trail mix, occasional fruit, and sometimes a can of soup. In towns with a population of a few hundred people and one general store, I just ate whatever they had. I also loved stopping in Mom and Pop diners because the food is always cheap and plentiful..
I am honestly not sure what the true proportion of outside to inside sleeping was, but I’d say it’s close to 50-50. On the nights I slept outside, I most often stealth camped. The sun would set and I would be nowhere near a town, so I had to find an inconspicuous spot where I could avoid being seen or found. This meant ditches next to railroads, sections of dense forest between farmland, under bridges, etc. When there was public land to sleep in, I would always go there first. If I could make it to a town by the time it gets dark, I would usually head to the local police station, fire department, or church to see if there was a safe place for me to get some shelter. Usually, they would help me find somewhere out of the cold to sleep for a night. I slept in churches, under pavilions, in sheds, fire halls, public parks; anywhere I can lay down without being disturbed or feeling in danger. Other times, I would meet people and they would open up their homes to me, letting me crash on an extra bed, on their couch, or even just on their floor. Those were my favorite nights because I get to meet awesome, friendly people, eat home cooked meals, and get a good night’s sleep.
I am currently hiking Pacific Crest Trail between April and August of 2014. It is a 2650 mile trail in that stretches from southern California to northern Washington. Unlike the American Discovery Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail is a single footpath way up in the mountains with little immediate access to towns. I have been really enjoying my time out West so far and will continue to update Dudetrek.com as I get closer and closer to the Canadian border.