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#155075 - 09/26/11 04:50 AM A few quick fundamental questions
Samual Miller Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/26/11
Posts: 2
Hello everyone, as implied, my name is Samual Miller

This will require a bit of background to support my questions ;p bare with me here

I have backpacked a bit before, and hiked as well, I have never quote on quote been a "backpacker" but I do enjoy it. I did some backpacking on the continental divide (before I got struck with mono which was NO fun, let me tell you, having to hike back like that)

But what I have in mind for what I'm planning is quite different, and was wondering if this is the right forum to be in.

Taking a look at my life, and realizing I'm young with no obligations or bills to tie me down, that the time to travel is now, do some things that I will remember for the rest of my life, and after some thinking, I'm considering a cross country trip, starting on the east coast, ending up somewhere in the midwest or even west coast. Time is not an issue in the least, I have a job right now, and all my money is going into saving (for this kind of thing exactly). I was thinking of spending months and months planning this out, buying maps, looking up hostels and places to go, now, at this point, this trip is still just an idea.

I plan on staying away from greyhound for the most part, and absolutely no planes, and going mostly walking and and hitchhiking (is hitchhiking even done a lot anymore?)

I was hoping to see "must see" places in the USA, as well as some local secrets, and definitely some beautiful mountain scenery, and at this point I'm at a complete loss at where to start planning this cross country escapade. What shoes are good for this, how much money should I have with me? What websites could I visit to look up some good places to see on the way, etc etc

I've done film school in the past, and hope to chronologue my adventure the whole time, along with keeping written thoughts.

Again, am I even in the right place for this kind of trip? Some input would be incredibly appreciated! Thank you in advance

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#155077 - 09/26/11 06:51 AM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: Samual Miller]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
You'll get some folks on this website who will try to help you however they can, but the website purpose is more in the nature of backcountry hiking and camping rather than rambling across the country.

You might want to take a look at this website: www.theworldwalker.com

Back in the 80's he walked "around the world" and wrote a couple of books about it; I think he's done some additional trips since. He blended some camping with other types of travel, hitting cities and rural areas (though not really much time in backcountry settings.)

I met him once, in the late 80's or early 90's, when I hired him to speak at the local high school. He impressed me as a very approachable person, so you might try contacting him through his website. I know he's busy, but if you could establish a connection, he would be a marvelous source of information for the kind of trip you're toying with.

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#155079 - 09/26/11 09:52 AM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: Samual Miller]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Samual,

Welcome to the forum. Sounds like you have a great dream.

For your initial plan, I'd suggest just drawing a line from the east coast to the west coast and leaving it as a dream before spending months of preparation. Detailed preparation will likely be wasted without experience.

I'd suggest doing small legs of the type of travel you want to do and learn from them. This can be as simple as walking to work and school everyday, even in bad weather. Or it can be learning about one facet of travel, such as cooking all your meals on your camp stove.

Before you plan the time for that epic journey across the country, I'd suggest several of a week or two in order to learn what you don't know.

Since you mentioned shoes, I'll address that. Good socks can overcome many of the deficiencies of not so good shoes. I like SmartWool. There are other good brands, also. After you wear out a few pairs of shoes in preparation, you will learn what works best for you.

Money is largely dependent on what food you eat and where you sleep. Whatever you plan, double it.

If you can answer the question "Why do you want to do this?" your reasons probably aren't good enough to finish. I'd suggest planning a trip you HAVE to do.

Have a great trip.
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#155081 - 09/26/11 12:35 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: Samual Miller]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1108
Loc: Madison, AL
unfortunately hitch hiking is pretty much dead. Done in by freeway's and serial killers frown

I think to start a trip like this, you should make a list of the places you are dying to see. Put them on a map and see if any route jumps out at you. You'll have to find routes that stay off freeways which is becoming more and more difficult to do.

Comfortable low-top running/hiking would be best. Plan on buying new pairs in your budget. And like Gershon said, plan your budget and double it.

I disagree with Gershon about preparing and planning. You'll never get out the door if you over-think this. This is a young, stupid decision that should be made while you are young and stupid. Plan what you can and make sure you have an escape plan, then get out there and have an adventure. Best of luck!


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#155082 - 09/26/11 12:59 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: Samual Miller]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
If I only had a dollar for every time this sort of post shows up on a backpacking forum, I could fund one of you guys with a dream and some wanderlust!

It's natural to want to go and explore, I think. What is not immediately apparent to you is the scope of what you are proposing.

You think it's going to be some romantic wonderful adventure. Somewhere around the time you're fined for being somewhere too long, or thrown out of the park, or are patching up your blistered feet for the 18th time, it'll set in that walking paved roads is hell on the feet, and home isn't such a bad place to be. Or about 1 am when you're wandering around looking for a place to stay, and all the good nooks and crannies are taken... the hotels and motels are full, so are the campgrounds, the hostels and the front step of the Y...

The suggestion has been made before to just get a cheap vehicle, throw in camping gear, and make that a mobile base of operations. That's probably going to be the best option for roaming the US, particularly if you are thinking of heading west into those states where it can be more than 100 miles of road without so much as a gas station - no water sources, no public lands, no campgrounds, no shade... Not safe for walking or hitchhiking.

You should rethink the hitchhiking. I don't know of a major highway in my state where it's legal. Would not surprise me in the least if the majority of the interstates forbid it, and in some states that's the only route to take.

If I were in your shoes, I'd go to Europe, where trains and public transit will get you everywhere. The US is just not conducive to that sort of backpacking.
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"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

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#155085 - 09/26/11 01:52 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: lori]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
"This is a young, stupid decision that should be made while you are young and stupid."

BZH, this really made me laugh. A lot of fun I've had in my life was because I was too stupid to know any better.

Lori, you show your lack of experience. I've been told never to sleep in parks or golf courses. The guy who told me that leaned over and whispered "They have sprinklers" as if it were a big homeless secret.

Guys need this sort of thing. Sometimes it never happens, sometimes it turns out badly. Sometimes they end up being the next Buddha, Moses or Jesus.

I hope the day never comes when guys stop being stupid.
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#155086 - 09/26/11 01:54 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: lori]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
My reaction to this kind of post is to consider bike touring because although I have enjoyed hiking and backpacking for many years, walking along a road is just plain boring and insufferable.

I think a trip of this scope is nicely suited to bike touring, and bike touring is quite compatible with backpacking - much of the gear is identical. When you arrive at a backpacking venue, simply stash the bike securely and head for the woods. I usually hike in low cut shoes, the very same ones in which I backpack.

Your daily travel on a fully loaded touring bike is easily 70 miles or so. When in shape, daily averages of 100 miles are quite achievable. This is a much better way to deal with some of the waterless stretches you will encounter.

Traveling by bike really puts you in contact with the country you are traversing - quite different than traveling by car.

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#155087 - 09/26/11 02:00 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: lori]
Steadman Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 514
Loc: Virginia
Samuel

Folks on this forum have been hard on this sort of thing for a variety of good reasons; lori just very neatly summarized those reasons for you, and you should think very hard about what she's saying. I've found here to be very wise.

That said, the Lewis and Clark trail (google it) covers a good part of the country. And I recently saw something about an E-W trail under construction from New York's Finger Lakes area to North Dakota. Sections of it intrigued me for my own (much more limited) desires. I doubt I'll ever get the time to be a thru hiker.

Obviously, a lot more research and PLANNING lay ahead of you if you want to pursue this successfully. I have absolutely no idea what the land use provisions are for either of these trails, nor what access to water or towns for food looks like.

If I had known what I know now, I would have much more seriously considered thru hiking when I was just out of college. Now that I am married, have a career, house, and children this sort of thing is much less possible for the next 20-30 years.

Steadman

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#155090 - 09/26/11 03:14 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: Samual Miller]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
The American Discovery Trail runs just a couple miles from my house. So I downloaded the waypoints and data guide for Colorado.

I'm very familiar with the towns on the southern route east of Pueblo. It's very doable by foot. Just carry lots of water. There are a lot of places one could spend the night without being bothered by anyone.

It's quite a planning process for the part that runs along the Colorado/Continental trail and you will need other data books. Or you can just stick to the roads. Whatever is your ting.
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#155096 - 09/26/11 05:21 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: Gershon]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6764
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
The American Discovery Trail, a coast-to-coast trail (although there's a lot of walking on back roads) is a distinct possibility. Certainly better than 100% road-walking and hitchhiking. Samuel, you might want to read the online journal of "Lion King" who hiked it in 2007-2008.


Edited by OregonMouse (09/26/11 05:34 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#155105 - 09/26/11 08:43 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: Gershon]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By Gershon


Lori, you show your lack of experience. I've been told never to sleep in parks or golf courses. The guy who told me that leaned over and whispered "They have sprinklers" as if it were a big homeless secret.

Guys need this sort of thing. Sometimes it never happens, sometimes it turns out badly. Sometimes they end up being the next Buddha, Moses or Jesus.

I hope the day never comes when guys stop being stupid.


Lack of experience at being a guy? sure. Despite the fact that I am accused of it on a regular basis, I'm not one. But I was a stupid kid once.

It's not the same world it was just a generation ago. And it is in fact dangerous to travel the roadways on foot, and illegal to boot in some places.

I don't anticipate being able to talk anyone out of stupidity, despite the fact that I do try on a daily basis.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#155110 - 09/26/11 10:45 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: lori]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2095
Loc: Napa, CA
I think Lori is pretty spot on with her advice...

Although I also subscribe to the Old Ranger philosophy. As someone who rides a bike 6,000 miles a year, they are great ways to get around: cheap, low maintenance, and easy. And if your goal is to take your time and cover 30 miles a day, you could see a whole lot of country.

But if I did that, at my age, I would take along very few things....and a well-stocked credit card!
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Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/

Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963

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#155127 - 09/27/11 11:32 AM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: lori]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Lori,

You mentioned sleeping in parks. That was where you showed your lack of experience. I recently asked a homeless guy where he slept and he was the one who told me not to sleep in parks or golf courses because of the sprinklers. Sorry about the dry humor.

If I were doing a trip like this, I'd consider a bicycle as it does shorten the time between water and food. But bicycles also have their own dangers a person needs to learn about. There are long stretches of the ADT that are impassible to bikes from forums I've read.

But the question was about walking, and this is a backpacking forum. People are right to be concerned about the safety issues which is why I recommended preparation. I'm not one to avoid activities because they are perceived as dangerous. But I am one to find safe ways to do these activities.

If I were to do this trip, I'd experiment with a baby jogging stroller. It would solve the problem of carrying enough water. It would also allow for carrying 2 or 3 types of shoes and more variety in clothes and other gear.

I'd also really look at the routes through big cities. On the southern route, Kansas City, St. Louis and Washington are potential trouble spots.

In spite of the humor about going for it now, it's really the wrong time of year to leave for a very long hike. So, I go by my original recommendation to do short hikes in your area to find out the things you don't know.
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#155128 - 09/27/11 11:47 AM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: Gershon]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
People who have no idea about the stretches of road through the desert states should do a lot of research and choose a different mode of transportation there. It's not a pleasant way to die. Bicycles not recommended either. You just can't backpack there without water caches, lots of resources and preplanning, and going out there for weeks? uh uh. Without the desert rat experience it's like winter camping - not much margin for error with that extreme environment.

I do have experience with sleeping in parks - with people who do it, at least. At any given time I have two or three homeless people on my case load. Your Parks May Vary.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#155134 - 09/27/11 12:31 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: BZH]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Originally Posted By BZH
hitch hiking is pretty much dead. Done in by .... serial killers frown
..... you should make a list of the places you are dying to see.


So, what are you trying to say.....:) Nice word choices, wink
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#155142 - 09/27/11 01:33 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: Gershon]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6764
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Originally Posted By Gershon

I'd also really look at the routes through big cities. On the southern route, Kansas City, St. Louis and Washington are potential trouble spots.

"Lion King," whose ADT journal is cited above, was mugged in East St. Louis. Some places are better avoided.


Edited by OregonMouse (09/27/11 01:34 PM)
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#155160 - 09/27/11 07:46 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: OregonMouse]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
"Lion King," whose ADT journal is cited above, was mugged in East St. Louis. Some places are better avoided.


And that surprised him? What the heck was he thinking?

And afterwards he calls it a "Potential trouble spot"? crazy

I've been in border towns in Guatemala that have less potential for trouble than East St. Louis.

I was NOT that naive when I was young, and the common notion that things were all "June and Ward Cleaver" everywhere back in the `60s and `70s is ridiculous.

You don't just need backpacking skills, you need street smarts to make a trip like this. When you go through a place like East St. Louis if you're not ready to give up all your stuff you'd better be ready to fight, and if you're smart, and you want to keep your stuff and your skin, you'll have a few bucks cash, a bottle of Crown, and a couple spliffs on hand to share. You'll get a lot further with those than a petrified look on your face. Shoot, you'll get invited to stay a few days and party and an entourage to escort you safely to the edge of town if you play those cards right.

If you don't play your cards right you'll be lucky to get to the edge of town.
_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#155169 - 09/27/11 10:31 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: billstephenson]
Steadman Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 514
Loc: Virginia
I learn something knew every day here...

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#155180 - 09/28/11 06:08 AM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: Steadman]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Yesterday, I walked a very small section of the ADT through Pueblo, Co. I found places I didn't know existed. A nice lake, some waterfalls, and nice people fishing. One group fishing and quietly drinking beer. I really questioned whether a trip like this would be "backpacking." I guess it really depends on whether you are the type of person whose focus is on the view outside or if you turn reflectively inside. I'm the second type, so it was fun.

Stealth camping in the city looks a lot easier before you get out there. When I looked for likely spots, I didn't see anyplace I'd feel comfortable. There were lots of signs of trails into the likely spots. I suspect they are used at night. The homeless people are pretty clean here, so there weren't any messes around the campsites.

From the point of view of a stranger to Pueblo, resupply would be a little difficult. The nearest supermarket to the trail is 3.4 miles. The nearest motel is virtually right on the trail. Towns can really cost a lot of money, so unless a person was really careful, I think I'd triple the amount I think I need.

East of Pueblo, the next supermarket is 119 miles away. There are quick stops and small markets, but that's hardly a place to buy food suitable for a long trip.

I got a copy of the databook for Colorado for ADT. The directions are very good, but it would be real difficult to make a good map from them. But it's really no big deal if you take a little different route.

The ADT is a mix of road walking and wilderness trails. It would take a mix of skills to complete. Utah and Nevada look impossible for an unsupported hike.





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#155194 - 09/28/11 01:22 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: Steadman]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By Steadman
I learn something knew every day here...


Just a couple miles from the really fun part of East St. Louis are the Cahokia Mounds. I've been there several times and it is an amazing national treasure.

East St. Louis is rough, no doubt about it, and I don't recommend walking down State St. after dark unless people there know you, or you know how to blend in and mingle with them. I have a stupid nephew that got mugged there a couple years ago. He drove there one night and literally presented himself as an idiot with money to take, and they took it.

I have to point out that passing through East St. Louis during the daylight hours on the way to the Cahokia Mounds is not a problem and more than worth the trip. It's amazing to me how few people know about this place and it's significance in the history of the indigenous cultures here.

_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#155199 - 09/28/11 01:38 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: Gershon]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
Originally Posted By Gershon
For your initial plan, I'd suggest just drawing a line from the east coast to the west coast and leaving it as a dream before spending months of preparation. Detailed preparation will likely be wasted without experience.

I'd suggest doing small legs of the type of travel you want to do and learn from them. This can be as simple as walking to work and school everyday, even in bad weather. Or it can be learning about one facet of travel, such as cooking all your meals on your camp stove.

Before you plan the time for that epic journey across the country, I'd suggest several of a week or two in order to learn what you don't know.


Great answer Gershon. goodjob thanks

You have become a valuable contributing member in a very short time. Well thought out respnse.
_________________________
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
Yogi Berra

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#155218 - 09/29/11 04:21 AM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: ringtail]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Thanks Ringtail.

Yesterday, I did 6.5 miles on the American Discovery Trail. I can see how the road experience can be just as fun as the wilderness experience. They really aren't all that different in many ways.

Water can be a problem along the road. There wasn't any yesterday.I was on a bicycle trail which wasn't near anyplace to get water. I know what's coming up and there isn't any for about 40 miles or so. The trail is right next to a river, but I wouldn't feel safe drinking from it.

I'm calling what I'm doing "nano-hiking." Park the car and out and back a small segment. One thing I've learned is it would be easy to focus on very difficult segments far down the trail and forget the difficulties of the seemingly easy section. And I need sunglasses. After walking on the white concrete for a couple hours my eyes were pretty tired.

But with practice, the hard becomes easy, the impossible becomes hard, and one learns to go around the truly impossible.
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#155262 - 09/30/11 01:54 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: lori]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Bike touring in the deserts is all about route choice and choosing the proper season. You don't want to be is western Arizona in August on a bike, or really even in a car, for that matter.

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#155268 - 09/30/11 03:51 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: oldranger]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6764
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Difference--the car generally has air conditioning! Of course you may die when you step outside....
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#155269 - 09/30/11 03:54 PM Re: A few quick fundamental questions [Re: OregonMouse]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1814
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
It's a dry heat.
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