I get a lot of questions about the what’s, when’s, where’s and why’s of my walk. I have compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions and tried to answer as best I can. If you have other questions I have not covered, please write a comment or send an e-mail and I’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. I’m an avid walker so it just seems natural that I would want to explore the limits of my ability by walking as far as I can. Since I’ve already walked across America and Europe and had an awesome experience doing it, I thought I’d give it one more try.
Q: Where are you going?
A: This trek will take me from the southeast Australian city of Melbourne through Sydney, and finish in Brisbane. I’ll walk around 1286 miles in 76 days along Australia’s Prince’s Highway which basically follows the coastline from Melbourne to Brisbane.
Q: How many miles per day will you walk?
A: I have allotted 76 days to complete the walk. However, I have built in 8 days off along the way. Therefore, I will only walk 68 days. That means I will average walking 19 miles per day on the days I actually walk.
Q: How often will you get a day off from walking?
A: The 8 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 I walk.
Q: How many hours per day will you walk?
A: As part of my training for this walk, I tend to “power walk” at a pace of about 4 miles/hour. However, that is without carrying a backpack. My normal pace carrying a backpack is 3.0 miles/hour. So depending on the miles needed to stay on schedule for that day, I will normally be walking from 6 to 9 hours per day plus break times. When I walked across America and Europe, I usually got on the road early and could normally complete my 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. However, my walks have all been unassisted (without anyone following me) and uninterrupted.
Q: How did you train?
A: I started walking in 2006 when I retired from the Air Force. Prior to that, I had been a jogger but my knees started hurting so I started walking instead. As time went by, I walked more and more until now I usually power walks 8-12 miles each day Monday-Friday and longer distances on the weekends. As I got closer to the start date of my walk across America, my daily distance increased and I started carrying my backpack to get acclimated to the weight. My training regiment for the European walk and this Australian walk has been basically the same.
Q: Where will you stay?
A: The walk is planned for 76 days. A route has been planned (see route page) that will end daily in a town or village with some sort of lodging facility. While I plan to carry some camping equipment, I hope to not need it.
Q: How will you keep everyone informed of your progress?
A: This website was established just for that purpose. I will be posting a daily journal along with pictures and videos. Also, I have a device called SPOT that I will carry with me. SPOT sends a signal to a satellite that tracks my position everywhere I go in near real time. SPOT also ties into Google Earth and plots my position on a map. A link to that map is posted on my website under the tab “Where is John?” So at any point in time you can check my progress.
Q: What will you eat?
A: I have planned my route to minimize the distance between towns. Therefore, I have elected to not take cooking gear with me on this walk. I 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: I carry an Osprey Aether 60 pack. It’s an awesome pack that is very light and comfortable and is the same pack I carried across America and Europe. My major equipment items include a Therm-a-Rest Z-lite sleeping pad, a Western Mountaineering MityLite down sleeping bag, and a Therm-a-Rest compressible pillow. I 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 and an IPhone. In addition, I use a Leki Sierra Anti-shock walking staff. In all, my 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 I carry will vary. First, experienced backpackers have shown that you need about 1 gallon of drinking water per day. My backpack has a 100 ounce water reservoir. That equates to about 3/4 gallons of water if full. In addition, I carry some extra water bottles to complete the needed water supply. Depending on the situation, I will have the opportunity to refill as the day goes by. So to cut down on the weight I’m carrying, I will not always carry a full reservoir. I’ll just stop periodically and refill.
To answer your second question, water weighs 8.3 lbs. per gallon. Therefore, it is important that I not carry extra water when I can just as easily refill my reservoir(s) along the way.
Q: Aren’t you concerned about your safety?
A: Not really. I’ll follow common safety rules and do everything I can to stay out of dangerous situations. For example, my route is planned to stay off major highways and I always walk on the shoulder of the road facing traffic so I can see what’s coming my way. As far as safety from people who want to do me harm, I rely on the experiences of those who have walked before me 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. In my two previous walks across two continents, lasting almost 12 months, I have never encountered any unsafe situations.
Q: What will you do about blisters?
A: Blisters can be a nuisance, but are not normally a show-stopper. When I first started walking significant distances years ago, I would get blisters. Then as time went by, the areas where I got blisters turned into calluses, with blisters sometimes forming under the calluses. It was my experience on my previous walks that the best way to handle blisters was to pop them as soon as I 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: Are you going to carry any weapons?
A: This is probably the second most commonly asked question. No.
Q: Do people call you crazy for wanting to walk so far?
A: I 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 these long distances. On the other hand, some people think it’s pretty awesome and something that they would like to do themselves someday. I prefer to hang around with the uplifting crowd and stay away from the Debbie-Downers.
Q: Since you walked completely across North America and Europe, why are you only walking halfway across Australia?
A: I need to get home. I promised my wife we would go on a cruise.