I want to walk across America. Can you offer me any resources?
Check out the links below and feel free to get in touch with us via our Contact page. There are also helpful links available on our Friends and Benefactors page.
“How to Walk Across America (And Not Be an A**hole)” was written in 2013 by Tyler Coulson who completed his coast-to-coast walk in 2011. We (Kait and John) and fellow cross-country trekker Nate Damm also added our few cents worth to this book and highly recommend it to anyone considering this kind of a trek. It was written for you by people who were there. It is available for kindle or in paperback.
Tyler also wrote and published the story of his 2011 hike. He called it By Men or By The Earth. It is a frighteningly honest and accurate reliving of his walk and his life both before and after. It is available for kindle and in paperback. I love this book. No joke, it’s in my top 10.
Nate is in the final stages of writing his book about his 2011 hike. In addition to his thoughts in Tyler’s “How to Walk Across America”, he offers a “How to Walk Across America Guide” on his website. He is still an active traveler and continues to share his stories at www.NateDamm.com
NOTE: This Q&A page was written before we the walkers took our first steps. Everything in black is from the original webpage. All post-walk commentary is in green.
Frequently Asked Questions:
You’re really WALKING across the country? Like, on foot?
Yes. And we did.
One foot in front of the other!
Why are you walking across America?
To raise awareness of pet therapy and animal rescue. Want to know more? See our About The Walk page.
Where are you starting and ending?
We left from Cape Henlopen State Park at the head of the American Discovery Trail in Lewes, Delaware and are finishing in San Francisco, California. See our Route page for more details.
By the time we reached the West coast, we had walked 3,088 miles from Lewes, Delaware to Long Beach, California in 8 and 1/2 months. There is a map available on the Route page.
How many miles do you expect to walk per day?
Most decently fit, healthy people who walk across the country cover 15-25 miles per day. Some walk as many as 30-40. We started at 10-15 miles and have worked our way up to 20-30 miles per day. If we walk at least 100 miles each week, we are doing well. At 3mph (the average walking speed for a human), that is about 7-10 hours of walking every day.
Our estimated numbers were surprisingly accurate. We hit 18-20 miles/day really consistently. Our longest day was 30 miles, walked somewhere in Nebraska. We held very close to that 100 miles/week. It proved to be a solid estimate.
How long will it take you to walk coast to coast?
Somewhere between 7-9 months. Walking 20 miles per day, 5 days a week it will take us 7 months to go 3,000 miles. As we do not have an exact route, we are budgeting 9 months. Making regular therapy visits also extends our time on the road considerably as we spend more time at some of our stops.
We walked 3,088 miles in 8 and 1/2 months. This includes 4 weeks off the road for a wedding and a funeral, so I suppose you could call it 7 and 1/2 months. We started on March 1, 2012 in Lewes, Delaware and finished on November 17, 2012 in Long Beach, California.
I notice you have a car with you now. How often do you and Kait ride ahead?
We walked unsupported for the first 1,100 miles. We have a good friend who joined us at the Mississippi River with a support car. If it gets to hot or treacherous for the dogs, they get to ride ahead in comfort. We can also pile in to take detours off our path for therapy visits and to find places to stay. But we always get dropped back off where we stopped walking – we don’t skip miles. We couldn’t say we WALKED across the country if we spent half the time riding, now could we?
We stuck to this. We didn’t have many rules, but this was one of them. Throughout the entire trip, we skipped an estimated 3 and 1/2 miles. There were a few circumstances where we walked ourselves into a dead end and could not legally continue forward on foot. Please forgive us these 3.5 miles. Scouts honor, we walked all 3,088 miles of the rest of it.
Is all that sustained walking really safe and healthy for a dog?
Dogs were made to walk. It is how a pack in the wild hunts, builds bonds, and travels. Wolves may travel 50 miles or more each day to locate prey according to the International Wolf Center. However, we understand that our dogs are not wolves and have limits. Our veterinarian is working with us to make sure that our plans are designed for the health and safety of our dogs. We trained for over a year to prepare them and ourselves to cover that kind of distance, and will be doing regular vet check-ups along the way.
We also believe that exercise- lots of it- is key to a well-behaved dog. Because we will be making regular therapy visits, staying as guests in people’s homes, and representing dog owners everywhere, it is very important to us that our dogs are well-balanced, well-mannered animals. Walking with your dog is the most important thing you can do for your dog and your relationship with them.
All that aside, we were joined at the Mississippi River by a support car, expertly piloted by our good friend Jon Slater. It is mostly for the dogs. when conditions are not safe for the dogs – the roads are too treacherous, it is too hot, or someone has a sore paw – the dogs are chauffeured ahead.
We are happy to report that all four dogs that joined us on this trek finished fit, happy, and very healthy. They all visited a veterinarian every 1,000 miles for a check-up. All were given high-quality food, vitamins, and regular flea, tick and heart-worm medication. They were very carefully cared for at every point throughout the journey.
Why are you walking? Wouldn’t you be able to make more therapy visits by car?
After adding the support car, we are able to take detour to facilities that are that are not directly on our route, allowing us to reach more people – but we don’t skip miles. While it is true that we could make more stops if we were crossing the country by car, it would defeat much of the purpose of the project. We walk because it good for humans, good for dogs, and good for the human-canine bond. Both species are designed to cover great distances on foot. This is how we came to populate the farthest corners of the world. This is why humans and dogs have co-evolved. We also want to truly experience our country, not just drive past it all in a bubble. Excuse the cliche, but our walk is about the journey, not just the destination.
Where do you sleep?
We carry camping gear with us in our pushcart (and later the sag wagon) and spend as little money as possible on our accommodations. Many places, especially out west, it is easy to find a spot to camp just off the road. We have also been known to find a friendly-looking house, knock on the door, and ask to pitch a tent in their yard. When we’re lucky, from time to time, they even invite us inside…
This was all very true. We never really struggled to find a place to stay. People are amazing and this country has a lot of open space.
What do your dogs eat?
A wonderful company called The Honest Kitchen has been kind enough to donate food for our dogs. Their food is organic, raw, and full of the absolute best nutrition a dog could want. It is also dehydrated, so we can carry a lot of it! Because of the amount of calories they are burning, we also supplement their diet with the highest quality dry foods we can find along the way. Any time we can, we buy Bil-Jac dry food, because it is made of the good stuff and calorie-rich.
Again, our dogs all finished fit, happy, and healthy. These products made up the majority of what they were eating. They all did well by it.
What breed of dog is Max?
We don’t know. He was listed on petfinder.com as a Sheltie mix. We think he is some sort of spaniel mix. We are always taking guesses. He is a 2008 model.
What breed of dog is Grace?
Again, we do not know, but we have lots of guesses. The front runner is an Australian Cattle Dog and Lab cross.
Other guesses people have made: pit bull, Blue tick coonhound, Australian shepard, catahoula leopard dog, dalmatian, boxer, German short-haired pointer, mastiff, etc. etc. She is a 2005 model.
Where does your funding come from?
This is the most challenging part of this project. We have several equipment sponsors, we receive donations from individuals, and we invested our own resources. I have never heard of another walker finishing this trek without debt. We are no exception.
Where did the idea come from?
We have always loved to walk, but we needed someone to show us that it was possible. To read the story, see our article The Seed.
**All questions were modeled after those we have become accustomed to answering. If you have a question that we did not address, please put your query in the form of a comment below and we will add it to the FAQ page.