Over the years I've had many people ask me for advice or tips. Since I've done a 5,000-mile and a 2,000-mile hike. Here are some tips and advice. Gear I took, route planning, and what I did to prepare.
How To Walk Across America
Some people like to travel ultra lite, and I wasn't one of those people. On both of my hikes, I had about 45-50 pounds of gear.
- A Baltoro Gregory Backpack
- REI two-person half dome tent
- Hiking Sticks
- MRS Cooking Stove
- One pan
- Rain Poncho
- Mummy Sleeping bag (20 degree)
- Sleeping bag liner
- Small Towel
- Business Cards
- Laminated News Articles (Helps with places to stay)
- First Aid Kit
- 2 or 3 water bladders depending on my location
- Video Camera
- Digital Camera
- Plastic bags to stick items in when it rains
- Water Bottle
- Bear Spray
- Toilet Paper
- Lightweight camera tripod
- A few sets of clothes. In the beginning, they were clothes that could dry out quickly. In hot humid weather, I changed to more cotton clothing that would stay wet and keep me cool.
The first thing I had was my finishing location. Florida. Next I picked a day I was going to take off. September 1st. Then I had to pick my route, and I didn't want to walk across the Rockies in the winter. So I decided to walk along the west coast until I was south of Los Angeles and then turn east across the desert and the southern part of the country. That made for a pleasant winter and a more direct route would have put me in the Rockies. I did hit the south and Florida when it was a hundred degrees, but I just slowed down a little, and everything worked out and I made it to Key West in one piece.
Like I said, I didn't really know what I was doing, since I left 30 days after I got the idea. Along the way I realized since I was trying to raise money for cancer research in my mother's memory, it was worth it to reach out to the local media as I went. It wasn't a magical recipe.
Some of it was the further I went, the more serious people took the hike, but I did get some press on the west coast. It felt like once I got to Texas, people were taking the hike more serious.
I just called all the TV stations and newspapers along the way. Sometimes radio stations too. That was one facet I didn't reach out to as much. I found that big town newspapers tend to not care, but a big town TV station will usually pick it up, or at least one of their TV stations will.
I was in good shape and did a little walking with my pack before I left. I had a job that was very physical and I was on my feet and moving. If that isn't the case for you, then you need to start walking.
For the most part, I always walked against traffic so I could see what was coming. I only broke that rule if there was no where to walk and it was the inside of a corner. That happened on the west coast quite a bit. I liked to take the outside of the corner because cars would have more visibility of me.
You'll end up camping most of the time. You'll find campgrounds, but a hiker can slip into many locations and camp. You'll need to get comfortable just walking off the road and finding a spot to camp. I usually tried to find a spot to stay in daylight. Every time I found a spot to camp at night, I woke up and it was never as good of a spot as it looked the night before.
You'll also run into kindness of strangers. I stayed with nearly a hundred stranger on my hike to Key West. Just be careful and you'll meet a lot of good people.
The last thing is, if you are serious, just start the hike. Don't have it turn into one of those things that you never do.