Frequently Asked Questions about walking from coast to coast in the States.
- How far is it?

– The route that we will take is 5057 miles. As the crow flies, the distance between our start and finish points is 2530 miles. The difference is explained by two factors. Firstly the route is designed to stay, as much as possible, on trails, tracks or small country roads – walking by the side of a busy highway is not a pleasant way to see the country. Secondly, particularly in the West, the route is not direct because the trails wind and zig-zag to find an available route through the mountains.

- Where will you stay?

– Most of the time we will camp. In the more populated East this will largely be in existing sites. In the West we will camp where we collapse. Sadly our tents are basic models without electricity or hot running water. Because of this we will be staying in motels about once a week in order to maintain our levels of hygiene and sanity. We also hope that some benevolent souls may take it upon themselves to feed and house us along the way. We are both house-trained and keen to make new friends.

- How long will the walk take?

– We expect to cover, on average, between 15 and 20 miles a day – more in the flat landscapes, fewer in the mountains. This equates to around 280 days of walking. There will be zero mile days where will not walk. We expect that we will be on the road for approximately 12 months.

- Will you walk in Winter?

– No. We have a target number of miles that we need to walk by winter of 2006 that will put us somewhere near Kansas City. It is not possible to cross Colorado, the next state, during the Winter as the high mountain passes are closed. We will cross the Rockies in Colorado at heights of up to 13,000 feet; snow is possible on any day of the year but attempting a crossing of these mountains before the summer months is extremely dangerous.

- What will you eat?

– Again, the sparsely populated West holds much more of a challenge for us in this regard but even in the East we will in many cases be several days between towns. Because of the prohibitive weight of most food, we will be carrying largely dried foods such as porridge oats, pasta, rice, dried fruit etc. These can be prepared along the route as we can source water much easier than food.

- What about water?

– Good question. In the East this is not a problem, there are plenty of towns where we can refill our bottles and streams and springs between them where we can collect water which we will then filter. Water starts to become more scarce by Western Kansas and by Utah and Nevada we will be facing stretches of over 100 miles between water supplies. Here we will be relying on pre-arranged water drops – large bottles of water buried in the desert which we will locate by GPS.

- How many pairs of shoes will you go through

– We estimate that we will be replacing our shoes – lightweight ‘trailrunner’ type shoes – approximately every 1000 miles. But we don’t know yet.

- How much will you be carrying?

– Although we are trying to use as much lightweight gear as possible, we will be carrying a lot of weight because of the equipment that we will be carrying to document the trip – laptop, camera, video camera etc. We will need, at times, to carry enough provisions to last for a week. In the desert conditions of Utah and Nevada we will need to carry enough water to last 24 hours. It is recommended that a person travelling in the desert allows for 1 gallon of water ;per day; we will be carrying around one third of our body weights for much of the trip.

- What are the biggest dangers?

– A well-planned trip should not prevent too many dangers, though we are sure we will have some scares along the way. The biggest potential danger is running out of water in the dry valleys of the West – although the water drops should safeguard us from this eventuality. We get a lot of comments regarding wild animals. I am assured that snakes will be more scared of us than we are of them – they must be pretty scared. There are several guidelines to follow to prevent bears coming near the camp – cooking on route some distance before setting up camp, cooking in different clothing from those you will sleep in, hanging food from trees some distance from tents etc. Most of the potential dangers can be avoided with common sense and forethought.

- Why are you doing this you foolish men?

– Beats staying at home.

- No really, why are you doing this?

– Many reasons, some of which are addressed on other areas of the site (see the Project pages for one of Stuart’s aims for the trip). Both of us have been interested in the US for as long as we can remember, and what better way can there be to get to know a country and its people than walking across it? You get to see, hear and experience everything close up – the scenery, the roadkill, the smells and best of all the people. We are really looking forward to getting beyond the stereotypes of Americans that most of us Europeans seem to carry around in our heads.

- How will you watch the World Cup?

– Now this is a tricky one, especially if England cut a dash to the later stages of the tournament. Walk or no walk, any self-respecting football fan will tell you that the games must be seen and the tournament enjoyed before all else. Therefore we will be relying on a combination of structured planning, targeted motel use and the wonder of ESPN (“Soccer with Barry Spinnaker!”) to get our football fix. Stuart had to watch England go out of the last world cup in Washington DC on ESPN so he’s hoping not to repeat this experience again. If we get to the final then we are in trouble – we’ve even discussed coming home.

Do you have a frequently asked question? Does it have anything to do with our walk? If so, or even if not, please feel free to ask us via email or the Guestbook. Stuart is a librarian, he will be happy to indulge your queries, no matter how whimsical.

E-mail: Dave: dave_toolan@hotmail.com and Stuart: stuham@hotmail.com