Some people like to accomplish difficult things just to do it and prove themselves to themselves while others do it to raise awareness for a particular charity or cause. Still, others need a break from the world and so travel the world by cargo ship or by resigning themselves to a monastery. For those and other reasons, some folks have a go at hiking across the United States.
Hiking across the United States is not that much different from completing the Appalachian Trail. Although it may be much less scenic while crossing places like the Great Plains - long straight stretches are likely to bore someone's brain to death without discipline.
Somethings To Consider About Hiking Across the USA
But I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door
- The Proclaimers
Hiking one's way across the United States is certainly a mammoth undertaking and one much much longer than completing even the longest lengths of the Camino de Santiago. Hiking across the United States is longer than the Appalachian Trail that is set up for hiking. Every year thousands of hikers attempt a thru-hike; only about one in four make it all the way.
- Appalachian Trail: 2,190+ Miles
- Hiking Across The USA: 2,800 Miles
A few dozen people have succeeded in hiking across the nation on foot. From the time it took them to complete the trek, it would take around six months to complete. One can of course do it faster than that, or much shorter.
- Time: Average Duration 6 Months
Also one may have the Proclaimer's song - "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" and Nancy Sinatra's "These boots are made for walkin'" stuck in one's head permanently.
Be Sure To Plan!
If one is planning to hike across the country, then be sure to plan one's route. Don't just hike along the busy highways and perhaps plan the route to include places of interest. Unlike on developed pilgrimage routes like the Camino de Santiago, there won't always be places to stop and stay for the night. So a tent will be a must.
Also, consider the weather. It would not be a good idea to hike across the Dakotas in the winter (they are home to America's coldest cities), nor is it desirable to hike across the desert in the summer.
- Tip: Have a Great Selection of Tunes Downloaded!
Bring The Right Gear - But Keep It Light and Compact
There are lots of things that one should plan for and pack for. Mostly it involves only packing the essentials and making the most out of the space and weight. It is super important to pack lightly.
The Big Three
- Backpack: A Good Quality Backpack - lightweight around 30 oz
- Shelter: A Good Quality Tent For Hiking
- Sleeping: A Warm Lightweight Sleeping Bag And A Insulated Sleep Pad
For eating one will need a single cook pot, a potable hiking stove, and a single mug - these should all be hiking-designed equipment. It is also needed to filter water from the mountains during the hike, so take a water filter designed for drinking water.
Take a LED headlamp, a smartphone, a power bank, maybe a small solar-power pack, .
Smartphones are incredibly useful. So hikers should always take it with themselves (unless they specifically want to be disconnected from the world). And for a hike like this, one is likely to need some tunes, audiobooks, podcasts to maintain sanity.
Clothing is very important. It is important to have the right clothing and not more clothing. Get a good pair of hiking boots. Also, bring along a pair of flip-flops or sandals for around town or chill days in nice weather. Or just relaxing after pitching the tent.
- Tip: Don't Start The Hike With Brandnew Shoes - Brake Them In First
Clothing Is Important Too
Hiking clothing needs to be a mix of woolen and synthetic clothing - cotton kills. Woolen clothing and synthetic clothing still provide warmth and insulation while they are wet (synthetic is also quick drying). Cotton clothing sucks the warmth out while wet, avoid all-cotton clothing while exposed to the elements of mother nature's grand outdoors.
- Clothing: The Material Clothing Is Made of Is Important
That being said cotton is cool so it can be ok to have a cotton shirt on nice days - but not in adverse cold conditions. Even with underwear, consider wearing Icebreaker merino briefs - and a sports bra for the girls.
One needs thermals, rain jackets, and rain pants. Down-jackets are lightweight, small, and great for keeping warm.