i’ve always wondered how it felt, those people who have always known what they wanted to do when they grew up. i have never known that feeling. the closest i have ever gotten to that was when i would go out to where i could see the huge horizon of kansas and just want to start walking. that is almost all i ever want to do actually is walk. i love riding my bike. i’ve enjoyed skateboarding, scooters, motorcycles, cars and trucks. i also really enjoy sitting, laying down, running (sometimes)… but the one thing you can almost always get me to do anytime, anywhere, is go for a walk. a short walk. a long walk. walk to a cup of coffee. walk to dinner. an after dinner walk. doesn’t matter. i just love to walk. and then sometime in june, it hit me, when i grow up i am supposed to walk.
but when should i start? it’s not like i have a date to register for the fall term or something. and i will need to prepare, and rid myself of a few possessions. so sometime after i turn 50 (jan of 2018), when i feel that the weather will be mostly in my favor, i will put on my pack and start walking around the country. not across on the roads most people take, but around and through on the trail systems. sure i’ll have to use real roads sometimes for resupply and see friends and share beers…[this timeline has been moved up to may/june of 2017 see why wait for more information]
i think my plan will most likely take me 5 years or more, but i am going to start with a two-year plan. i don’t want to be in a rush. i want to stop and really get to know an area when i feel like it. i don’t want to have to make a certain set mileage to achieve every day… of course weather and winter will come into play and i’m still trying to figure that one out. maybe i’ll try to be in the south by the time the cold hits, or maybe hole up in a ski town and work for the season before heading back out. we’ll see how things go and which directions i feel like going in.
i do have some basic ideas on routes i want to take and how i want to do them. i have a giant map on our wall with outlines of where some major thru hikes run and seeing where some of the big ones connect. i will probably start marking where the co-ops are in relation to the trails and work on how to get food when i’m out and about.
one big thought i’ve had is that i want to work with smaller cottage companies that make gear in the regions i’ll be exploring that season. i figure i’ll be going through things since i’ll be living in a tent, sleeping bag and out of a back pack. so maybe i can work with some companies doing good work and interesting designs…and shoes.
i also need to get back in shape, learn some new skills, talk to people about good medicine to have on hand, how i want to share these adventures, what kind of technology will i need, how will i get maps (are there map exchanges), and food.
so i have a year and a half to prepare, a little more actually, but anytime after jan 2018 it could begin. so i will be keeping people updated on my progress, things i learn, epic failures as i learn is inevitable, and i will spend this time getting rid of pretty much everything in my life.
i am kicking around the idea of some kind of social funding project. some folks have already asked how they can help facilitate this venture, but i would like to also be creative in this area. i would very much like people to join me for a bit somewhere… buy me a beer and walk with me for a couple of days… send me your favorite vegan trail food when i am in the next town, or just contribute some bucks to keep me going. i figure i will have to stop and work from time to time, but hopefully not that first year or two. also, maybe i can make a few buck with the telling of some stories… we’ll see. i’ve got some time to figure it out, and then so much will be changed and shifted i’m sure as i go along.
there are many thoughts that have come up for me since i starting thinking about this and talking to people about it, and i hope to be writing about them more. like why i love being outside, and how much i love to explore places and get to know the people who know those places. and as i was thinking and talking and reading, i came across a chapter in the book Children of the Days by Eduardo Galeano (one of my super favorite poetic historians). the story is called The Pleasure of Going. it is set in 1887 in Salta and tells of “Juan Carlos Dàvalos, founder of a dynasty of musicians and poets.” the story goes like this:
…he was the first to drive a Model T, the “Ford with a moustache,” in those parts of northern Argentina.
His Model T snorted and smoked as its wheels rolled forward.
It moseyed down the road. Turtles stopped to wait for it.
A neighbor came up to him, greeted him with a worried face, commented, “But Mr. Dàvalos…at this pace, you’ll never get there.”
The driver responded, “I don’t travel to get. I travel to go”
and so shall i.