Human Powered Travel

During my 4,800 mile thru hike of the Eastern Continental Trail, I don’t want to get in a vehicle for the duration of the trip. More importantly I don’t want to hitchhike, and I don’t want to use shuttle services along the trail.

I’d like for this to be a style I adhere to for most future long distance hikes as well, where it is applicable, with a few exceptions.

What happens when I need more food and I’m stuck on trail? I’ll walk! It is what I came out there to do after all. Most hikers on long distance trails will either arrange a shuttle or hitchhike into town when they need more food, or want a nights rest in the bunk of some hostel. I don’t think many folks think not hitchhiking is even a possibility, but it is! My obsessive planning has made this possible, but also the trail guides tend to all say how far off trail any given town is. That’s right you barely even have to plan for this style of hike, it’s all right there in your guide book. Some cities are 10 miles off trail, some are less than a mile away. You can guess which ones I’ll be going to.

This trend for me begins once I fly into Gaspé, Canada. I’ll be situated 32 miles from the actual trailhead of the International Appalachian Trail, the beginning of my journey. Those 32 miles will be walked on roads. Maybe because I’m stubborn, maybe because I don’t wish to get a ride in a place where everyone’s native language is French, maybe because I came out here to walk.

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Judging from the map, these miles aren’t exactly through the fires of hell. They’re along the coast, down two lane back roads, through small neighborhoods, all the way to a small lighthouse on the water with plaques commemorating the Appalachian Trail, and it’s international extension.

Not hitchhiking at all during this type of endeavor is pretty unheard of, only a few hikers out of thousands do things like this, and maybe that’s something that attracts me to it. That hitchhiking on long trails has become such a norm, people are often ostracized for even bringing up not wanting to beg for rides. I’m not worried about who might be picking me up or anything, often the locals near the trail are very used to backpackers looking for a ride to town. I just want to walk.

When it comes to these long distance trails, I understand you’re already walking 2,000 miles or something, you don’t want to add an extra however many, but get this, on the Appalachian Trail for all of my resupplies combined I’m only adding a total of 12 miles to get to and from towns! For the whole thing, Maine to Georgia.

From Quebec to Key west, my entire trip, I’m only adding a total of ~22 miles. Not including the roadwalk to the trailhead.

I may be biased as I’ve always somewhat enjoyed roadwalks. Although tough on your feet pounding them against asphalt, or hard packed gravel. I get the opportunity to see things you’d never notice driving in your car. It may not be some single track trail through wild areas, but it’s still ground under my feet, and things to look at. It’s still human powedered travel, and it’s still part of my journey. A different kind of trail, and a different kind of experience.

I guess it should also go without saying I won’t be skipping any sections of trail.

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And seriously? I think people of the world rely on vehicles far to much.

So here we go. Quebec to Key west via my own two damn feet.

Jupiter

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6 thoughts on “Human Powered Travel

  1. Really looking forward to following your journey! Thanks for daring to do something different, and for sharing. Wishing you safe and exciting travels! TH

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  2. Wow, that’s really hard core. Respect! Don’t beat yourself up though if one day you do take a ride.
    Lorraine (Tenderfoot)

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  3. I love this philosophy! Crazy how few miles you will have to add to your trip. I suppose this sort of thing would be possible on more remote trails as well (such as the CDT) as long as you are planning for it.

    One potential conflict arises in my mind:

    One of my favorite parts about long distance hiking is the people I meet along the way. If one refuses rides to and from the trail, one could possibly be refusing the chance to meet those decent minded people, share stories with them, and even learn from them and their way of life. Just a thought . . .

    I wish hikers talked about hiking ethics more. One ethic I’ve been pondering is the idea of an “unbroken march”. Is it still an “unbroken march” if one takes a ride to town and back and then continues hiking exactly where they left off? What about if they fly home for a week, then fly back and continue from where they left off? As far as I can tell, these things are seen as acceptable for thru-hikers and even for the Guinness Book of World Records. What’s your take?

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    • To be fair, I started by reviewing Matt Kirk’s AT FKT resupply sheet, which turned into John Z giving me some advice on how I could do it even better, always with Krud and Binks PCT methodology(no vehicles) on my mind. Very much so… I am standing on the shoulders of those before me. Inspiring me to be a little different than the crowed. Especially not someone to beg for rides on the internet…. or help… or all the trash you see……

      I do very much agree, you/I would be missing out on a lot of cool people by doing this. Although I have had some really great people stop and talk to me, ride or not. As well as folks in the towns, or on the trail you naturally run into.

      In regards to your unbroken chain… there’s this one really well known thru hiker, he mentioned that if he has to flip, his hike is over, if he has to take a week off, etc. Very much as stubborn as they come / pure / Tru to his thru. I feel the same way as you. Personally not something I’m into, but ultimately I don’t really care what others do(for the most part.) It’s their hike, and things do come up. Going home in the middle for me woukd be similar to death haha but you do what ya gotta do? The aim is of course, an unbroken chain of footsteps from one point to another.

      Thanks for stopping by Mike!!

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