Walk Across America
It is so nice to be home! Yes, I am currently posting from the comfort of my own bedroom in Maryland after finishing my walk across America. I am very tempted to jump right to recalling my last day of walking, but I will resist the urge. There were 12 epic days of walking in California before I reached the beach, so let me begin with the first day.
I could practically smell the saltwater and I was itching to get to it as fast as possible. I caught my first glimpse of California as I walked up the windy road to Spooner Pass, leaving the desert, and entering lush, elevated wilderness.… Read more
My first night in Nevada was spent under a full “Strawberry” moon, laying less than a mile from the “Welcome to Nevada” sign under the soft silver-pink light of the moon and the Milky Way-no tent, just my thin blue sleeping mat and my sleeping bag. I could see the treeless mountains surrounding the valley and imagined what could be over that first ridge: sand dunes, vultures circling over, dry mouth and chapped lips and sunburn and blinded eyes, all with Chopin’s Funeral March as the soundtrack. The thought kept me awake for a little while, but the wind kept me awake for longer.… Read more
As I walked into Utah, it looked like I was entering some strange post-apocalyptic world where the weeds have grown through pavement, the sky is dark and ominous, and the only traces of human life look decades old. I was on Old Route 6 & 50, what used to be a major travel route across the US before I-70 was made. It was stormy and grey, and instead of a shiny “Welcome to Utah” sign, there was a stone obelisk bearing the remnants of the letters “UT”, graffitied and chipped away by vandals and hooligans like myself. It was fitting to my mood.… Read more
Yet another post with a John Denver song title. Last time was for West Virginia, nicknamed “The Mountain State”. No offense to the folks from Appalachia, but those “mountains” are anthills compared to the majesties of the Rockies. At some point in western Kansas, surrounded by long rolling hills and farmland, I reached 3000 feet in elevation- the same height above sea level as the higher mountains in West Virginia. It was hard to tell, but throughout Kansas, I was slowly and gradually walking uphill. As I crossed into Colorado, setting my watch back an hour for mountain time, I expected to see the Rockies at the top of each hill.… Read more
For a long time, Kansas had been the thorn in my side. From what I had been told, Kansas was nothing more than a flat-as-a-pancake, farming no-mans-land, where the high winds blow the smell of manure right up your nose and even driving across makes some people go crazy. I was worried about the monotony, the increasing distances between civilization, and also the complete lack of natural shelter from the elements. I received a warm welcome in Kansas from my own dad, who happened to have a business trip in Kansas City around the same time I would be there. Initially, Kansas surprised me in that it was much more hilly than expected
There are very few trees
The people are much more friendly than some folks in Missouri think they are
The towns got smaller and smaller, and the distance between them got farther and farther.… Read more
From May 1804 to September 1806, Meriwhether Lewis and William Clark led the Corps of Discovery into the West on an expedition that would change the course of history. They left in the pursuit of knowledge, and for the sake of documenting the adventure. In some ways, what I am doing is similar; I am embarking on a long journey into unseen lands, exposed to experiences that harden the spirit and open the mind. I am forced to learn as I go just like they were.
For the most part, however, our journeys are drastically different. They often had to fight to survive and possessed little to no knowledge of what was around the corner; their supply of resources was determined almost exclusively by the time of year and the land that surrounded them.… Read more
Illinois didn’t take long compared to the other states I’ve walked through, yet I saw some of the most amazing things I’ve seen so far while passing through the Shawnee National Forest. Namely, I got to see the Garden of the Gods. I had heard about the epicness of the bluffs and giant sandstone rock structures in the Shawnee National Forest, but it was grander than i could have possibly imagined. Coupled with the breathtaking views, I rarely had to sleep outside while walking in Illinois. This must be the famous Midwestern hospitality I’ve heard so much about. Way back in 1994, I was born in Lombard, Illinois- much farther north from where i was hiking- on the west side of Chicago.… Read more
Indiana’s state nickname is “The Crossroads of America”. What an appropriate name for such a diverse and interesting state. In my mind, Indiana represents a great transition. I no longer feel close to home, yet i feel so far from California. Thankfully, it wasn’t hard to stay motivated with such generous hospitality pushing me forward. I was surprised by how vigorous some of the terrain in Southern Indiana could be, but walking through the hills of the Ohio River Valley only strengthened my willpower. The greatest challenges were often mental rather than physical: learning to cope with the cold, rerouting on a moments notice, homesickness, etc.… Read more
In a single day, I managed to experience more comfort, fear, thrill, and awe than I have within any given week of Dudetrek, perhaps since I began.
Hurricane Sandy began wreaking havoc on the East Coast sometime on the 29th of October, showing her full force throughout the night and into the 30th. I could hardly believe the stories I heard, and the pictures I saw. I was just in Ocean City, Maryland for “Senior Week“- where Maryland high school Seniors take over the entire city in massive numbers to party nonstop for an entire week at the beach.… Read more
Well, here I am. After crossing the Ohio River, I’ve left Mountaineer country and entered the Buckeye state. While I’m certainly glad that I’ve made it over the Appalachians, I will miss them dearly. Some of my first glimpses of unmanned wilderness took place back in Cub Scouts: hiking the Appalachian Trail and learning the basics of survival, gaining an appreciation for nature, and generally utilizing the outdoors for everything they have to offer. Within the past few years I gained a newfound love for these same mountains, and they are symbolic of the general terrain that I’m used to and have hiked most often.… Read more