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How To Walk Across America

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How To Walk Across America:

Currently, I am walking across America.

UPDATE: I have completed my journey, where I ended in New Orleans and flew back home to return to graduate school.  The following was written during the second month of my journey.

END UPDATE

I would like to provide any future walkers with the resources and advice to set out on their own journey across the country.  Much of what I have written is culled from experience, some comes from advice given to me from other travelers on the road.

So take a look around and explore the contents.  I hope that my journey will inspire you to take on your own challenge.

For the EXTREME! Challenge:

So what makes walking across America EXTREME!?

For one, the distance of a transcontinental walk at 2,500+ miles can be physically challenging.  Whether you're pushing a cart or carrying a backpack, the strain and stress of continuous sojourns at 15 - 30 miles per day can quickly deplete your physical resources if you're not prepared.  Weather and conditions can quickly wear you down, ranging from scorching heat, to bitter snow, to high-velocity winds.

The duration of the walk itself can push your emotional and spiritual limits.  Most of the time, you'll be out by yourself in the scorching Southwestern deserts or endless fields of corn in the Midwest with little more to do than keep walking, anywhere from 4 to 12 months.  I met a man who was walking from Maine down to Florida, across to California, then north into Washington; he'd been walking for more than 7 years coast to coast.

And finally, if your finances are thin like myself, you can expect to be camping off the highway, under bridges, or in an abandoned house.  Occasionally, I've met kind-hearted people who've helped me with a place to stay and a good meal to eat.  But the majority of the experience teeters on the edge of terror during lonely nights beside the road.


Outline:

I'll break down this manual on how to walk across the country with four major sections:

1.) Preparation

In the Preparation section, we'll discuss the training, materials, and equipment that you'll need to get yourself in shape and ready to step out the door into the wide, open world of the road.

2.) Walking

The Walking section will involve the actual mechanics of day-to-day walking, from nutrition to stretching.  I'll go over some of my own challenges I've had to face from my current walk.

3.) Journey

For the Journey section, I included an in depth discussion of the emotional and spiritual elements of walking for long periods of time.  For me, these pieces are the flesh and bones of my purpose for walking.  If you're not inclined towards what I will introduce in this section, feel free to skip over them.  They are not necessary for an actual journey, but I believe they make a journey far more rich and alive.

4.) Appendix

I've placed any files and external resources here for your reference.  Also, I will be adding other resources that I wasn't able to include in other sections.  In addition, I'll have added a few personal pieces here for sharing with the world.


About Me:

My name is Bryan.  I've taken a one-year deferral from graduate school at Stanford to walk across America, soaking in the moments each step of the way.  I recently lost my father from a stroke, which spurred me to take action in my own life.  I've always wanted to see the world up-close and meet the lovely characters that make up humanity, and so I figured I'd do it the most intimate way I could.

Walking is my way of getting to know myself and others.  I grew up walking to most places in my neighborhood, and every evening, I'd take a walk with my mom beside the beach.  In college, if I had an intricate chemical problem I was trying to solve, I'd go take a walk and break apart the problem under the trees of Aldrich Park.  So I have had good memories of walking in my life.

I've walked about 500 miles east from The Shire in University of California, Irvine and currently resting in the city of Globe, AZ.  My journey will take me through Las Cruces, NM; El Paso, TX; Austin, TX; New Orleans, LA; parts of Mississippi; parts of Alabama; and finally, Florida.  My plan is to walk into Jacksonville, FL by August 2012, just before I head back to school.

The journey has taught me many lessons, and I hope I can share some of my experience to someone who would want to walk a journey for themselves.

So far, so good.
 
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bryanquocle (author)  CatTrampoline2 years ago
Excellent to hear that Austin is as I imagine it to be. My hope is that I'll be lucky and spend more time sipping tea than eating asphalt as I trek through Texas to get there.
Klappstuhl2 years ago
What if your cart gets stolen? D:
bryanquocle (author)  Klappstuhl2 years ago
I build a new one :P
jarabito2 years ago
Amazing experience. In Argentina we call this kind of life "crotos" and love this thought...
Viva Che !
alexsparrow2 years ago
i found a baby cat during my walk around america and also encountered the ocean, I swam across using a raft i brought
onemoroni12 years ago
Good luck and God bless you in your travels. Thanks for sharing your experience. you have touched many lives.
This is without question the best 'ible I've read in a long time. You have a gift for writing; I am so grateful to you for sharing them with us! I wish you the best of journeys....
tqwerty2 years ago
This is an amazing story.
Very, very inspiring.
Thank you so much.
micbike2 years ago
I have been thiniking of doing this all of my life. I have been a walker since I was very young. I thank you very much for this, and I plan to read it and study it carefully. I plan to take a week long walk this spring in Nebraska (my home state) as a little experiment. Thanks again!
pixman552 years ago
on our small island called waiheke near auckland in new zealand we have two remarkable women who walked across america as part of a "peace" walk. one celebrated her 93rd birthday on sat 3rd of march.they were part of a big group and im not sure what year they did the walk.in nz a movie/doco was made called "kit and maynie,tea,scones,and nuclear disarmament" by susi newborn and claudia pond eyley. the doco was released in 2010
jolshefsky2 years ago
I loved hearing your stories so much that I almost forgot to mention my take on water storage!

I've attended Burning Man for a few years and you have to have your own water. I disliked a lot of the features of the 5-gallon collapsible containers: they are moderately easy to puncture, hold a large amount of one's water supply (so if one leaks, you lose a lot), are hard to dispense from, and heavy to move around. I went with 1/2-gallon containers, and settled specifically on Ocean Spray juice jugs as they are rectangular. They have none of the complaints for the collapsible containers, and I got them free by picking them up from recycle bins in the neighborhood.
mblack32 years ago
Excellent and inspirational. Want to try this some day.
Nannerman2 years ago
Have you ever considered writing a book about this? I thought this was pretty entertaining and informative. Looking back at how long that instructible was I can't beleive it held my attention for so long, but I enjoyed it and learned alot.
bryanquocle (author)  Nannerman2 years ago
I have! I haven't completed the full stretch across the country yet, but I would love to put together a nice piece when I return to school. Thank you for letting me know it was captivating; I was worried I had written too much :)
For me I think you could have written five times more and I would have been just as rivited.
I lost my Internet connection and went crazy trying to re-connect and find you a second time.
bryanquocle you have the gift of being able to captivate your reader, maybe your future lies in story telling....

5 Stars and Kudos
Do it! I loved the article and would be eager to read a summary on it.

I had a teacher who had a brother that walked the entire Appalachian mountains. The stories she told were pretty epic. I would love to hear more stories of this.
Metafire2 years ago
Wow, this is more than an instructable, it could be an entire book!

Great read, I hope to someday have an similar adventures of my own.
assassin8672 years ago
You know what, after reading this huge ible' I think that I'm going to do this as well, in time atleast, maybe in a couple years as I get older and am ready financial-wise. I can see that you enjoyed it despite all the troubles you had along the way, and that it really taught you a lot of valuable lessons in life. I think that i'd enjoy this as well, it really seems fun to me. Good luck with your journey.
Jayefuu2 years ago
Wow. This is comprehensive! Congrats on your journey!
There is a book that's been written, though I'm sure yours will have a different perspective, that I thought I should point you towards:

http://www.amazon.com/Walk-Across-America-Peter-Jenkins/dp/006095955X

I received this as a gift many years ago and have longed to do the very same thing.

Good luck on your journey, and keep us informed as you progress....
Yes, I read that one about 20 years ago and really liked it. I am sure that a current experience would make a compelling read as well.
Cpt. Caleb2 years ago
very inspiring stuff, I've also heard from survivalists that singing or just talking can scare away predators so 2 thumbs up
WYE_Lance2 years ago
What an amazing piece of writing! Wonderful balance of practical advice from hard-earn experience and quite reflection on the subtleties of life. It is rare for me to read through each word of an entire Instructable, especially one of this magnitude, but you kept me spellbound. All in all this is a very comprehensive guide to walking across America. You definitely earned my vote in the Extreme challenge :) Safe travels!
Artlynk2 years ago
Have to agree with Nannerman, and all the others above - yes, I thought I;'d have a bit of a look, maybe learn some things, and just kept coming back to it, and read ALL of it..... and I am in Australia - so different from there anyway, but still held my interest all the way through.... and well written, and entertaining, and informative, all at once!.... enjoyable..... thanks
jongscx2 years ago
I was expecting it to be a "Left foot... right foot... " instructable, but I like it.

So much great information!
zomfibame2 years ago
Very very cool.
pfred22 years ago
You've had an amazing journey so far. What an experience. Thanks for taking the time to write about it. It sounds to me like you're accumulating riches you won't run out of for the rest of your life along the way.
katvanlew2 years ago
Well thought out, so very inspiring! Thanks for sharing your advice. Good luck and God speed!
Hoopajoo2 years ago
Truly inspiring! Thank you for sharing your resources, experiences and knowledge.
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