Daily Progress of The Walking Aggie
(Click on a marker for John’s Daily Journal)
Howdy! I’m John Ball, Texas A&M class of ’78, aka. “The Walking Aggie.” You may remember me from back in 2015 when I successfully made a coast-to-coast walk across America. Well, I’m out on the road again; this time with walking partner Dave Alcorn ’85. On 7 January 2019, we began a walk across the continent of Europe. As of 12 March, Dave and I have walked 988 miles across the mainland of Greece and the majority of Italy. But before I give you details about our European adventure, let’s briefly review my trek across America.
Starting on 1 March 2015, and over the period of 170 days, I walked 2686 miles from San Diego, Ca. to Daytona Beach, Fl. The thru-hike was unassisted (no support vehicles following along) and uninterrupted (no extended breaks). Carrying all the supplies and equipment I needed in my backpack, and through the generosity of hundreds of kind people, both Aggies and just nice folks along my route, plus the support of family and friends at home, I was able to complete the coast-to-coast walk on 18 Aug 2015. The purpose of that walk was to create an endowed Aggie Ring Scholarship at Texas A&M. As it turned out, I 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 I’m happy to report that in each of the last two years, I and my family have awarded an Aggie ring to two student, both of whom were U.S. Military Veterans. This tradition will continue annually into perpetuity.
So with that said, what’s the latest? First, I can’t begin to tell you what an amazing experience walking across the United States was. What an incredible adventure! The friends I made and the people I met were clearly the #1 takeaway from the trip and will be something I’ll never forget. But after I completed the walk, and had time to recover and then reflect on how rewarding the trip had been, I began to get that crazy feeling again. So about two years ago, I started considering taking another walk. But where to this time? After thinking about it for a period of time, and doing some tentative research, I settled on a plan to walk across Europe. And at that point, I contacted a friend, Dave Alcorn, in Tallahassee to see if he was interested in making the walk with me. Because of Dave’s Air Force experiences in Europe, he jumped at the chance.
Our European walk is planned to 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 is divided into two segments with a 90 day return to the U.S. in the middle. Part 1 began on 7 Jan 2019 in Athens, Greece, and we successfully completed that segment of the walk on 12 March in Verona, Italy. Part 2 will begin where Part 1 ended in Verona on 11 June 2019. The trek will end on 4 Sept in Oslo Norway. In all, the walk will transit 7 countries (Greece, Italy, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway).
As was the case with my walk across America, I’ve been wearing a Spot GPS device enabling our followers to track us minute-by-minute. In addition, we’ve been posting videos, photos, and a daily journal on this website to keep all of you up to date on our travels.
Unfortunately, I must report that Dave Alcorn has made the decision to not participate in Part 2 of the European trek. Therefore, I will be walking solo from Verona to Oslo. As always, I’ll continue to post daily updates, pictures, and videos on this website.
So thanks for the interest you’ve shown so far in the 2019 trek across the European continent. I’m looking forward to continuing the walk and appreciate all of you following along. Gig’em! John Ball ’78