Wednesday, March 2, 2011

FAQ Answered by an Idiot

Since I announced my intention to walk across the United States I have had to answer a lot of the same questions. What's wrong with you? Why don't you take a bike instead? Isn't that dangerous? When did you go insane? Those are just a few examples. I thought I would try to use the space here to respond to as many people as possible at one time so I can avoid having the same conversation over and over and so you can avoid the distasteful experience of having to talk with me at all.

Why walk across the US?
A short question, but one with a complicated answer. To clear my head. To raise money for the Wounded Warrior Foundation as well as spreading awareness of the organization. To experience our country in an unique manner. To play a more realistic version of "Frogger." Hopefully I am more successful at the game than this fellow. You'll notice the "Frogger" incident happened only a few miles down the road from where I live, so let's add one more: to get out of a state where so many people seem to be that crazy.

Why the Wounded Warrior Foundation?
My good friend Ken was struck by a RPG while doing his third tour in Afghanistan several years back and lost his left arm and his left eye. He also sustained numerous lacerations to his body. He wants everyone to know, however, that his gentleman's region was completely unharmed.
On a serious note, which I will try to sustain for virtually a whole paragraph against my baser instincts, the Wounded Warrior Foundation has helped Ken a great deal since then by sending him to the Super Bowl, Butch Harmon's golf academy (Tiger Woods instructor back when he was good), and an MLS game where his young son was chosen to take the ceremonial kickoff. All of these events brought joy to Ken and helped take his mind off the suffering he was undergoing because of his grievous injuries. I think of the Wounded Warrior Project as sort of a Make-a-Wish Foundation for injured veterans. The organization provides many more services though, including counseling. Click here to check out their website and learn more about the charity's mission and goals.
I've picked a very difficult task out for myself that I may not be able to complete, but I don't want to let my friend down and hopefully that will help to propel me during the hardest of days.

When will you leave as we tire of your presence?
I have promised to attend a friend's wedding on April 19, so I will be leaving to start my journey early the following week. In a perfect world I would start earlier, but I try to keep my commitments and the wedding will be a lot of fun too so don't feel too sorry for me until I am trapped under two feet of snow in the Rockies because I began too late.

Are you just going to walk down a highway?
No, I will be using the America Discovery Trail, which starts in Delaware and finishes in California. The trail splits into two paths in Indiana with the two trails coming back together in Denver. I will be taking the Northern route. Click here to check out the route. Click on state names to get a better idea of the exact route.

What kind of shape are you in right now?
Not good enough. I am currently training to get up to an average of twenty miles a day, about what I have to maintain to finish the trip before I die of old age. I also have to get used to carrying a heavy pack every day, something I have been working on as well. Anyone interested in going on a long hike please contact me - you can choose the venue and I will carry all that we need in my pack while you hike in comfort, unencumbered by a pack of your own as your mule does the hard work.

Where will you stay?
Obviously since I am trying to raise money for charity I will try to spend as little as possible, staying in campgrounds, shelters, or friends' homes whenever possible. In many of the big cities I will have no choice but to stay in a hotel on occasion. If you know of anyone who can put me up along the way, even if its just a yard to put my tent in please let me know.

Can I join you?
Of course, I'm not on a one man suicide mission so any rats who want to follow this Pied Piper are more than welcome, I would love some company. I have already had a few offers from several people to do part of the trail with me.

Could you ride a bike instead?
Please see the last couple words of the title then return for the following sentence.
The ADT can be ridden by bicycle and even horse in most places, but I don't own either so I'll just have to go with the two feet I am already in possession of right now.

How can I help?
Any of five ways: 1) Sponsor Me: I'm probably going to need about $4800 dollars (I'm lowering the amount as donations come in if you are wondering about the odd figure) in addition to the money I have saved up to pay for hotels, campground fees, food, etc along the way. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Whatever I do not use from you or your company's sponsorship will go to the Wounded Warrior Project. Even just a few dollars would be of huge assistance. Contact me at so we can make arrangements.
2) Make a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project. I have set up a page at First Giving. Just click here and follow the simple instructions. All donations to the WWP are tax deductible according to their website. Contact me at if you have any questions. I recommend making a pledge to donate a certain amount, say $10, $25, or $50 for each state I complete (there are 12 in total) and a bonus pledge for my arrival at the Pacific.
3) Materials: I still need to purchase some of the things I will need for the trip so if anyone has anything they can donate to the cause please let me know. I am without a water bottle with filter, swimmer's towel, pedometer, and probably some things I don't even know I should have.
4) Shelter: If you know anyone who can put me up during my walk I would greatly appreciate any help. Free lodging means more of the money you use to sponsor me goes to the WWP. See above for the trail map if you are unsure where my travels will be taking me.
5) Advice: The process of planning for this trip is complex and there are no doubt elements that I have overlooked, please do not hesitate to put in your two cents in regard to all aspects of the hike and fund-raising.

That's all for now, but I'm sure I will be answering some other questions here in the near future so check for updates. I will also be posting short updates on my travels on Facebook and longer diary entries here at the blog whenever I have computer access.


James B said...

Wow dude.

Larry Holmes said...

Go for it Alistair- we will miss you on the softball team and our APBA league this spring! Hopefully season will start before you leave and the team can pitch in!

Alastair McCandless said...

Thanks Larry - I'll be able to play the first month or so at least since we start next Monday.

Unknown said...

You can be sure you'll be taken care of when your in Illinois! You can crash at our place, we'll have the beer ready! and if 20 miles is truly what you do in a day we can get some friends to open backyards for a tent if need be. Advice I would give is to get as light of equipment as possible. I myself have walked many miles in the light infantry unit I was in and during my climbing days. As a disabled vet I have never suffered as your friend has and I applaud what you are attempting to do for your friend and other WWP members!

Good luck, brian

Alastair McCandless said...

Thanks so much Brian, I know I will be so excited to see you guys in Illinois - as I probably mentioned already I picked the Northern route because it went through Ottawa and I wanted to see Dave, Jo, and all my cousins I never get to hang out with - I will most certainly accept your offer of beer and lodging. I know I have a very difficult task in front of me and it would be such an accomplishment to get as far as Ottawa. I am trying to pack light, the only thing I am worried about is my tent, a good tent that was donated to me, but along the lines of what you are saying may be too heavy. I have a friend in DC I will be staying with about a week and a half in who lives by an REI store - I may jettison the one I have in favor of something smaller at that point if it is causing me difficulty. Thanks so much for your advice, no matter what happens I look forward to seeing you all in July for a break and some fishing - if I'm lucky I'll just walk up to your doorstep and say I'm ready to go :)