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.
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.
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.