Preview: June, 2011
Exploring North America’s Natural Wonders on Foot – 15,000 miles, 29 states, four provinces and 30 pairs of shoes.
Much of my non-working life is spent hiking. Deserts, jungles, mountains or coast; I don’t really have a preference. If I’m out in nature with everything I need in the world on my back, chances are my smile is wide and my thoughts are clear.
In 2010 I put together The Hiking Life website. Not being the most cyber-savvy kid on the block, the project took a lot longer than anticipated. Too many hours staring at a computer screen do funny things to a nomadic soul. Daydreams of the Sierra in spring, the Rockies in summer and the Appalachians in the Fall, slowly but surely metamorphosed into a plan. Random musings took shape in the form of a series of long distance hikes through North America, encompassing many of the ecozones which arguably make it the most geographically diverse continent on earth.
As to the details, the walks number twelve in total and range in length from 195 to 2700 miles. The final three trails, namely the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Appalachian Trail, constitute the Triple Crown of American hiking. These are the three longest hikes, and in the case of the former two, cross the United States longitudinally from Canada to Mexico (the Appalachian Trail falls just shy). Assuming I have any cartilage left in my knees, I plan to be finished by Christmas, 2012.
12 walks, 15,000 miles, 18 months……….yes, it is a long way and yes I am on the high (as opposed to the wrong) side of 40. But what the hey, I’m in good shape, I have a couple of decades of experience, some savings in the bank and quite simply, it’s what I love to do. With middleagedom waiting to put me in a 20 year embrace, I choose to head for the hills and go for a walk. After all, I’ve never been the huggy type.
– Cam Honan
Epilogue: January, 2013
On December 28, 2012, I completed the Appalachian Trail, the final instalment of the 12 Long Walks.
Totalling some 14,342 miles and taking a little under eighteen months (click here for maps, stats journals, and photos from the trip), it was an incredible journey in many ways. A confirmation more than a revelation, it reaffirmed and heightened the lifelong bond I have felt towards the natural world.
However, it was more than simply a series of extended wanderings through the wilderness. The serendipitous encounters, the wonderful folk I met along the way, confirmed what two decades of exploring remote corners of this extraordinary planet had already taught me – nature brings out the best in people. It brings out the best in me. Thank you, North America!
Swami (a.k.a. The long distance hiker occasionally still known as “Cam”)