Howdy! John Ball, Texas A&M class of ’78, aka. “The Walking Aggie,” is at it again. He’s about to begin another walking adventure, and this time with a walking partner. Dave Alcorn, Texas A&M class of ’85 from Tallahassee, Florida, will be part of this trek. In case you don’t remember John’s first backpacking trip, here’s a reminder before they get into what’s new.
Starting on 1 March 2015, and over the period of 170 days, John walked 2686 miles from San Diego, Ca. to Daytona Beach, Fl. The thru-hike was unassisted (no support vehicles following him) and uninterrupted (no extended breaks). He carried all the supplies and equipment he needed in his backpack, and through the generosity of hundreds of kind people, both Aggies and just nice folks along his route, plus the support of family and friends at home, he was able to complete his coast-to-coast walk on 18 Aug 2015. You may also recall the purpose of that walk was to create an endowed Aggie Ring Scholarship at Texas A&M. As it turned out, he was able to raise over $27,000 dollars, exceeding the minimum amount needed to create the scholarship. Donations were made by over 350 gracious donors and he’s happy to report that in each of the last two years, he and his family have awarded an Aggie rings to a student, both of whom were U.S. Military veterans. This tradition will continue annually into perpetuity.
So with that said, what’s new? First, John can’t begin to tell you what an amazing experience walking across the United States was. What an incredible adventure! The friends he made and the people he met were clearly the #1 takeaway from his trip and will be something he’ll never forget. But after he completed the walk, and had time to recover and then reflect on how rewarding the trip had been, he began to get that crazy feeling again. So about a year ago, John started considering taking another walk. But where to this time? After thinking about it for a period of time, and doing some tentative research, he settled on a plan to walk across Europe. And at that point, he contacted his friend, Dave Alcorn, in Tallahassee to see if he was interested in making the walk as well. Because of Dave’s Air Force experiences in Europe, he jumped at the chance.
John and Dave’s walk will be 2321 miles in 150 days. Unfortunately, due to European Union (EU) tourist visa restrictions, the walk can’t be done in one continuous thru-hike. EU rules state that an individual visiting Europe as a tourist can not stay for more than 90 days in a 180 day period. Therefore, the walk will be done in two segments with a 90 return to the U.S. in the middle. Their trip will begin on 7 Jan 2019 in Athens, Greece and end on 4 Sept in Oslo Norway. In all, they’ll walk through 7 countries (Greece, Italy, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway).
As was the case with John’s walk across America, they’ll be wearing a Spot GPS device enabling their followers to track them minute-by-minute. In addition, they’ll be posting videos, photos, and a daily journal on this website to keep all of you up to date on their travels.
So thanks for your interest in John’s and Dave’s 2019 trek across the European continent. Please feel free to contact either of them, comment on their postings, and follow along as they walk across Europe in 2019.