Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hiking Home - Need your feedback - Help me choose my route

My 'Tiny House', built before 'Tiny Houses' were a thing.  I called it a 'shack.'  8x16 feet, built at a cost of $75. Lived here Nov. 1976 through Sept. 1980 while building a regular house on this four acre Colorado mountain property.

A week from now, once I finish my 'Month of Sunrises' beach hiking project, I'll be heading out to Ohio to resume hiking west to the last two areas where I've lived that I haven't yet connected with 'boots on the ground footprints' - Wisconsin and Colorado. 

Recent Google Street View of 713 Jefferson St., Sauk City, Wisconsin, where I lived from when I was born until age  .
The house I built in Colorado, set on a ridge with a killer 150-mile view of the high plains to the east.  The 'shack' can be seen at right in the background of the last photo.

Over my life, I've had twenty-four different mailing addresses, and except for the ones in Wisconsin and Colorado, I've already hiked trails connecting all of them.  I call it my 'Personal Continuous Footpath' project.  You can read more about it by clicking the tab labeled 'Hopping Rocks' above.

But Colorado and Wisconsin are a long way from eastern Ohio, and the Nationally recognized (scenic and recreational) foot trails across the middle of the country are pretty sparse and take very meandering courses to get me to where I'm going.

Important also is that my biological clock is ticking away.  I'm approaching the age of 70.  Who knows how many more miles I have in this old bag-o-bones I call a body.

So ... as I return to Ohio, I will be facing a fork in the road.

Should I carpe the diem, stick with the trails, smell the roses, take the scenic route, let the journey be the destination?  Or should I hit the roads, make a bee-line, pound the pavement, travel as the crow flies, keep my eyes on the prize?

Here are some of the pros and cons.  Distance and time are obviously much shorter, probably at least five times shorter, taking the roads.  In Ohio alone the North Country Trail route meanders for 750 miles to get to a point 214 miles by direct road walking from where I will start at that fork in the road.

Yet road walking can be a dreary affair.  I hate the barking dogs worst of all.  I'm generally pretty good about finding things to entertain myself when boredom seems inevitable, but for close to 1500 miles with no respite? - no chance to wander in the woods?

On the other hand even the established trail route consists of roughly half road walking.  I've never come to terms with the lack of connected trails in our country.  Why can't we have a Benton MacKaye Interstate Trail System to rival the Dwight David Eisenhower Interstate Highway System?  The cost would be trivial by comparison.  The benefit in terms of improved quality of life and national pride is immeasurable.  Ahhh, but that's an aside, a subject for another post.

Lastly, the good trails are way up north for most of the way, so that I won't be able to hike a long season.  There will be winter down time.  It may take four years of all-summer hiking to get to Colorado.  Meanwhile my joints aren't getting any younger.  My stamina and recovery get less every year.  If I get the road walking done, achieve the goal of connecting every place I've ever lived with a continuous string of footprints, then I can always go back and hike the longer trail route at my leisure, and make a more 'honest' connection.

So ... HELP!  Which way should I go?  Share your thoughts with me ... please!  One thing I know for certain is that you readers have the experience that can help me with my decision.  You'll come up with all kinds of ideas and angles that I've overlooked.  Post your thoughts in the comments here and/or on Facebook where I'll be posting a link to this page.  Let me know what you would do and why.   And I thank you in advance for your feedback.


  1. My fist inclination is to remain true to your original goal...It's a shame you can't do a little of both. Are there county, or rail trails that might parallel the road walk?

  2. Thanks, Gisele - I'm leaning toward the original (long) way myself. If I did the road walk I'd likely find some unexpected bits of off-road trail and road trail. That has happened before. But it would be a small fraction of the total journey.

    On the other hand, even the official designated trail involves a good deal of road walking.

    So I guess either way I *would* be doing a little of both.