We get a lot of questions about the what’s, when’s, where’s and why’s of our walk. We have compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions and tried to answer as best we can. If you have other questions we have not covered, please write a comment or send an e-mail and we’ll try to get you an answer.
Q: Why are you doing this?
A: This is the most often asked question, and the one with the least logical answer. I guess the simplest answer is because it seems like something interesting and adventurous to do. John is an avid walker, and Dave is the adventure type as well, so it just seems natural that we would want to explore the limits of our ability by walking as far as we can. Since John already walked across America, and had an awesome experience doing it, he thought he’d try another part of the world and asked Dave to come along.
Q: Where are you going?
A: Our walk will begin Jan 7, 2019 in Athens, Greece and be completed on Sept 4, 2019 in Oslo, Norway. The total distance on our planned route is 2321 miles. (3716 kilometers)
Q: How many miles per day will you walk?
A: We have allotted 150 days to complete the walk. That equates to 15.5 miles per day. However, we have built in 13 days off along the way. Therefore, we will only walk 137 days. That means we will average walking 16.9 miles per day on the days we actually walk.
Q: Why will your trip only last 150 days when it’s 240 days between your start date of 7 Jan and end date of 4 Sept?
A: Good question. We are forced to take a 90 day break in the middle of the walk; therefore breaking the trek into two parts. The 90 day break is required because tourists are not allowed to remain in Europe for more than 90 days in a 180 day period. After you have been in Europe for no more than 90 days, you must leave and can’t return until another 90 days has gone by. Therefore, we will walk for 65 days in part 1 of our walk, return home to the U.S. for 90 days, then return to Europe and walk the remaining 85 days in Part 2.
Q: How often will you get a day off from walking?
A: The 13 days off mentioned above are spaced out every 10-15 days and are planned in locations where there is available support. All the days off are in towns with motels, grocery stores, etc. Also, there will probably be some adjustments made to the timing of the days off as we walk.
Q: How many hours per day will you walk?
A: As part of our training for this walk, we tend to “power walk” at a pace of about 4 miles/hour. However, that is without carrying a backpack. Our normal pace carrying a backpack is 2.5 to 3.0 miles/hour. So depending on the miles needed to stay on schedule for that day, we will normally be walking from 6 to 9 hours per day plus break times. When John walked across America, he usually got on the road early and could normally complete his day by mid-afternoon.
Q: Is someone following you to provide support?
A: No. There are different ways to do long thru hikes. Some have done them with assistance from a follow vehicle, like an RV. Others have done it without assistance, but have broken their walk into segments; like walking across one state or country each year until the full distance has been covered over time. Our plan is to walk the entire distance unassisted (without anyone following us) and uninterrupted (without taking any long breaks during the walk), with the exception of the required break mentioned above.
Q: How did you train?
A: John started walking in 2006 when he retired from the Air Force. Prior to that, he had been a jogger but his knees started hurting so he started walking instead. As time went by, he walked more and more until now he usually power walks 8-12 miles each day Monday-Friday and longer distances on the weekends. As he got closer to the start date of his walk across America, his daily distance increased and he started carrying his backpack to get acclimated to the weight. His training regiment has been basically the same for the upcoming European walk. Dave too is walking 8-12 miles/day leading up to the Jan 2019 start, and will increase his distance and start carrying weight as the start date nears.
Q: Where will you stay?
A: The walk is planned for 150 days. A route has been planned that will end daily in a town or village with some sort of lodging facility. While we plan to carry some camping equipment, neither of us plan to carry a tent.
Q: How will you keep everyone informed of your progress?
A: This website was established just for that purpose. We will be posting a daily journal along with pictures and videos. Also, we have a device called SPOT that one of us will carry with us. SPOT sends a signal to a satellite that tracks our position everywhere we go in near real time. SPOT also ties into Google Earth and plots your position on a map. A link to that map is posted on our website under the tab “Where’s John & Dave?” So at any point in time you can check our progress.
Q: What will you eat?
A: We have planned our route to minimize the distance between towns. Therefore, we have elected to not take cooking gear with us on this walk. We will be eating at restaurants, cafe’s, convenience stores, etc. most of the time.
Q: What kind of backpack do you carry and what’s in it?
A: John carries an Osprey Aether 60 pack. It’s an awesome pack that is very light and comfortable. His major equipment items include a Therm-a-Rest Z-lite sleeping pad, a Western Mountaineering MityLite down sleeping bag, a Therm-a-Rest compressible pillow, and Frog Tog rain gear. Dave also has an Osprey pack and he carries similar equipment to John. They also carry a 3 day supply of clothes (all dry-fit for easy washing), various first-aid items, assorted personal hygiene items, a headlamp, an IPad Air w/cellular service and an IPhone. In addition, both use a Leki Sierra Anti-shock walking staff. In all, our packs weigh about 15 to 20 lbs. without food and water.
Q: How much water will you have to carry and how much will it weigh?
A: The amount of water we carry will vary. First, experienced backpackers have shown that you need about 1 gallon of drinking water per day. Both of our backpacks have 100 ounce water reservoirs. That equates to about 3/4 gallons of water if full. In addition, we carry some extra water bottles to complete the needed water supply. Depending on the situation, we will have the opportunity to refill as the day goes by. So to cut down on the weight we are carrying, we will not always carry a full reservoir. We’ll just stop periodically and refill.
To answer your second question, water weighs 8.3 lbs. per gallon. Therefore, it is important that we not carry extra water when we can just as easily refill my reservoir(s) along the way.
Q: Aren’t you concerned about your safety?
A: Not really. We’ll follow common safety rules and do everything we can to stay out of dangerous situations. For example, our route is planned to stay off major highways and we always walk on the shoulder of the road facing traffic so we can see what’s coming our way. As far as safety from people who want to do us harm, we rely on the experiences of those who have walked before us who say they hardly ever have any trouble from strangers they meet. In general, people are supportive and interested in what you are doing rather than out to make trouble.
Q: What will you do about blisters?
A: Blisters can be a nuisance, but are not normally a show-stopper. When John first started walking significant distances years ago, he would get blisters. Then as time went by, the areas where he got blisters turned into calluses, with blisters sometimes forming under the calluses. It was his experience on his coast-to-coast walk that the best way to handle blisters was to pop them as soon as he got one using something clean and press on. In addition, rule #1 for all hikers is to keep your feet dry. Wet feet quickly form blisters and stay sore for days.
Q: Is there any portion of your route where you cannot walk and have to take some sort of other transportation?
A: Yes. There will be three places along our route that will require a ferry ride. One is from Igoumanitsa, Greece to Brindisi, Italy. This will be an 8-9 hour ferry ride across the Adriatic Sea. Also, we will have to take a ferry a short distance from Puttgarden, Germany to Sakskobing, Denmark, and from Sungsted, Denmark to Heisingborg, Sweden. Each of these last two ferries are required due to restrictions on pedestrians walking on bridges.
Q: How many others have attempted to walk across Europe?
A: Every year, there are a few people out there walking across the continent of Europe.
Q: Are you going to carry any weapons?
A: This is probably the second most commonly asked question. We will have mace and a small pocket knife.
Q: Do people call you crazy for wanting to walk across Europe?
A: We usually get one of two reactions from people when the topic comes up. The first reaction is that they simply cannot understand why anyone would want to do something as crazy as walk across an entire continent. On the other hand, some people think it’s pretty awesome and something that they would like to do themselves someday. We prefer to hang around with the uplifting crowd and stay away from the Debbie-Downers.
Q: Will you be home in time for the 2019 Texas Aggie and Florida State Seminole football season?
A: We can assure you the start of football season was a primary consideration in the planning of this walk. The hiking direction (south to north), route, and start date were all planned around several factors, including weather, distances between towns, highway access (staying off the interstates), and not missing the start of the 2019 football season! Unfortunately, with the European tourist rules mentioned earlier, we will miss the first week of the 2019 football season. However, we’ll get back ASAP and won’t miss any more than one game.