Monday, December 09, 2013

How to Walk Across America

Apparently, walking across America is a thing people do. Sort of like the hiking the Appalachian Trail, but through cities and towns. I like pretty much any endurance challenge, so color me impressed. I found Nate Damm's guide to be an impressive one in that it gave a surprisingly practical amount of information for a ridiculously large challenge.

Some of my favorite bits of advice:

How many people have walked across America?

A lot. Don’t do this because you want to try to be in a super elite group of people. Do it because you just want to do it. It’s certainly not an everyday thing, but it’s not as special as you may be thinking. ...
Use what you have!

This is a weird motto I came up with on the walk, which is kind of hard to explain: Use what you have. But it makes sense in my weird brain. Anyway, basically, if someone offers you a candy bar, take the damn candy bar. Don’t think ‘oh, there’s a store up ahead, I’ll want a candy bar more then and I’m kind of full from breakfast’ and then get there and see the store doesn’t exist. ...
Where do you sleep?

This for me was without question the most stressful part of the walk at the beginning. With that being said, as the days went on, I gained knowledge and confidence and things got much easier. Not knowing where you’re going to sleep every night is something that you will get used to, believe it or not.

For the most part, I did what is called stealth camping off the side of the road. I’d find a hidden place in the woods or over a hill and set up my tent. It made me nervous at first, but I got used to it. Your skills at doing this will get better each time you do it. The key is just doing it over and over again.
When heading into a town, or if you know what town you’re going to be ending your day in, call the local police dispatch. This will either be a local police department number or a county sheriff dispatch. Having a smart phone comes in really handy here so you can Google this information. If you don’t have a smart phone, just ask someone where the police station is and show up there in person. That works too.

So, you call them. They answer. Say exactly this:

Hey (operators name if they say it), just have a quick question for you. My name is (your name) and I’m walking across America. I’m planning on finishing my day of walking today in (town name) and was wondering if there is anywhere that I might be able to set up my tent and get some sleep for the night, like a town park or a place like that?
How much does it cost?

Quite frankly, I’m embarrassed that it cost me so much do to my trip. I view $4,500 as a pretty high amount. If I did the same walk today, I could do it for much less because of what I learned along the way and the fact that I’m now well seasoned to the road and traveling with very little money as a permanent nomad. People such as Hobo Nick have done a walk across the country with NO MONEY at all. In other words, you shouldn’t view money as a huge obstacle, there is always a way to make your walk happen if you want it bad enough and are willing to make sacrifices.

Some adventures I hear about and think, "Man! I've got to do that!" This isn't one of them. But, I'm impressed with the anyone who pulls this off.

Go read all of Nate's advice.

And if reading isn't your thing, here's a video of Nate talking about his walk:

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