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The last great walk
Old 09-10-2014, 08:51 PM   #1
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The last great walk

The first decade of the 20th century had a lot of public amusements that would never fly today. My Grandfather told me about flag pole sitters, tight rope walkers and other doers of amazing feats. Harry Houdini was from this era. The Last Great Walk is a book about a prodigious walker who for a while captivated America.

" Edward Payson Weston was a pedestrian little man with a lofty ambition—to walk farther and faster than any American had ever done before. He is lost today in the mists of American oddity, but in his time Weston—who stood just 5-foot-8 and weighed 125 pounds—was such a celebrated figure that tens of thousands of people greeted him in Chicago during his epic attempt, in 1909, to cover 4,000 miles in 100 days by hiking across the continent. He was 70 years old."

http://online.wsj.com/articles/book-...a+Star+Trekker

This 70 year old man averaged ~40miles per day. coast to coast. He didn't quite make his schedule going west- too much Wyoming, and too much headwind. But coming back on a more southerly route he beat 40 mpd.

Supposedly Paleolithic men and women average ~15 mpd just going about their business, in itself an amazing feat. I walk everywhere, but I sometimes feel the hills and a few days of 6-8 mpd and I am not exactly eager to go again. This Edward Weston must have been phenomenal.

Ha
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Old 09-10-2014, 09:33 PM   #2
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That's pretty impressive, day after day. Wonder what kind of support he had.

A couple years ago a woman walked the 2175-mile Appalachian Trail in 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes. That's an average of 47 miles a day, on single track trail, with plenty of rocks and lots of climbing and stream crossings. Her husband was at every cross road and cross trail he could be at with supplies, so she walked pretty light and he had camp set up each night. She said she walked 16 hours most days. A lot of AT purists don't think much of this fast packing without carrying her own gear, but she was just doing with previous speed record holders had done.

Trail Master: Q & A with record-breaking thru-hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis - Backpacker

A pretty elite trail runner went after her record this year but he gave up about 2/3 of the way when he fell too far behind to make up.

The fastest unsupported AT thru hike was set last summer, with the guy finishing on the 59th day. That's about 37 miles per day.
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Old 09-10-2014, 09:47 PM   #3
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All I can say is that people do weird stuff for whatever the reason. Did he do it for a place in history? because he just liked to walk? b/c he was a bit screwy in the head? Who knows? But I admire people who have such lofty goal and determination to follow through.
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Old 09-10-2014, 10:08 PM   #4
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Fascinating to see how times change. Weston in 1909... walking was the most common means of getting from one place to another. Surely in cities, there were streetcars but in the boonies, shanks mare... and if you were lucky maybe, just maybe... some kind of horse travel.
Even in my youth... only three families on my street (30 families) had an automobile.
All the way through HS, no school busses for us... less than 2 miles to school... definitely "walkable" .. that was right up to 1954.

Imagine my reaction to the demonstrations in my neighborhood by the parents of the kids who would have to walk 1/4 mile to elementary school... on sidewalks that are 10 feet from the road.

Sheesh... and my trips back and forth were uphill both ways, and through 4 feet of snow in winter.
.................................................. .......................................
but now, in a mellow mood... the slow walks and stop in the malt shop with the sweet young pretty girl who is now my bride of 57 years.
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Old 09-10-2014, 10:36 PM   #5
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I remember my walking with my grandpa; he was a farmer and never owned a car or truck. I would ride on the back of the horse or mule while he plowed and thought that was great. He and grandma some times caught a ride into town with the mail carrier to shop, see the doctor and deposit their SS check.

I remember the huckster that owned a store and also delivered groceries on a route. Tony didn't drive and remained seated in the back of the truck, the driver would stop, open the door and there he would be, greeting us with a What can I get for ya'll today?

The pop man (Soft drink delivery driver) would stop by as well and grandpa would buy a couple of cases of pop, duly exchanging the empty bottles and wooden case, bottles were returnable back in the day.

Man, am I this old to remember stuff like this?
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Old 09-10-2014, 10:45 PM   #6
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I remember my walking with my grandpa; he was a farmer and never owned a car or truck. I would ride on the back of the horse or mule while he plowed and thought that was great.
My farmer granddad (the other one was a tool and die maker) also never had a vehicle, plowed with a 2 horse team, and cultivated with one horse. They even had a horse drawn sickle bar mower to cut hay, which was dried and then cocked in the field, then when dry enough piled on a wagon and thrown up into the hay mow above the barn. Extremely hard work.

I also went with him to plow, though not riding on the horse. I trailed behind to look for arrowheads, and that collection has moved around with me my whole life and is very important to me. I learned to milk also, long before the era of electric milkers.

Ha
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Old 09-10-2014, 10:48 PM   #7
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Fascinating to see how times change.
.
.
.
Imagine my reaction to the demonstrations in my neighborhood by the parents of the kids who would have to walk 1/4 mile to elementary school... on sidewalks that are 10 feet from the road.
We don't have enough prisons to hold all the abusive, neglectful parents that used to force their poor children to walk to school. You're right, times have changed.

Mother arrested for letting son walk to park alone | WGN-TV
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Old 09-10-2014, 11:09 PM   #8
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My farmer granddad (the other one was a tool and die maker) also never had a vehicle, plowed with a 2 horse team, and cultivated with one horse. They even had a horse drawn sickle bar mower to cut hay, which was dried and then cocked in the field, then when dry enough piled on a wagon and thrown up into the hay mow above the barn. Extremely hard work.

I also went with him to plow, though not on the horse. I trailed behind to look for arrowheads, and that collection has moved around with me my whole life and is very important to me. I learned to milk also, long before the era of electric milkers.

Ha
Yes, the sickle bar was powered by the horses pulling them. Grandpa also grew corn, mostly for his beef cattle and tobacco for a cash crop. Harvesting was all by hand, the corn cut with a machete and shocked in the field to dry. Tobacco was cut by hand, the stalks were split onto sharp sticks, hung up and left to cure in the barn. Come a 'case', a high humidity days during late autumn, the leaves were stripped and readied for market.

Grandpa was mortified when the locals wanted a raise: "These fellers now want $10 a day to cut tobacco!" I remember those guys, they worked hard, were respectful and addressed Grandpa as Mister. And yeah they were white, they were just happy to make a buck.

Lunch was included in the pay and afterwards the help were allowed a short nap. Believe me, they needed it

I saw a documentary on tobacco farmers and how they were coping with societies new reduced smoking environment.

All the laborers harvesting tobacco -save one- were Mexicans. The guy driving the tractor was Caucasian.
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Old 09-10-2014, 11:11 PM   #9
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Phenomenal indeed. My goal last year was to walk 50 miles per week, every week. I've reached that goal on several occasions, but I can't seem to sustain it. I am in awe of people who can complete the triple crown of hiking.
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Old 09-10-2014, 11:17 PM   #10
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I will need to read more about Mr Weston. (I could not access the full story)
I did follow the journal of Flyin Brian Robinson in 2001 as he was attempting the Triple challenge - Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Appalachian Trail all in one calendar year for a total of 7,371 miles. Pretty amazing.

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The climb did not interest him. It certainly did not challenge him. The top was all he cared about. For at the freezing, wind-blown summit, which is the northern end of the Appalachian Trail, Mr. Robinson, 40, completed the longest, fastest walk in American history: a meticulously planned 7,371-mile, 10-month hike fueled by 6,000 calories a day.
For a Speed Hiker, Three Trails End in Maine and a Record - NYTimes.com
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Old 09-11-2014, 12:00 AM   #11
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Truly incredible. I average 35 miles a week and to think that people walk more than that every day is amazing. It really takes commitment to walk as far as they do.


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Old 09-11-2014, 05:25 AM   #12
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Imagine my reaction to the demonstrations in my neighborhood by the parents of the kids who would have to walk 1/4 mile to elementary school... on sidewalks that are 10 feet from the road.
It makes me crazy to see it, but where I live it's very common to see parents waiting in their cars to with their kids at the school bus stop so the kid is never out of sight (and their house is just half a block from the bus stop). Same thing in the afternoon, waiting to get the kid the minute he steps off the school bus.

This is on beautiful sunny days, in a very safe suburban area.
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Old 09-11-2014, 09:01 AM   #13
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All the way through HS, no school busses for us... less than 2 miles to school... definitely "walkable" .. that was right up to 1954.

Imagine my reaction to the demonstrations in my neighborhood by the parents of the kids who would have to walk 1/4 mile to elementary school... on sidewalks that are 10 feet from the road.
Mine, too. I walked to school every day in the 1950's. We even walked when we were sent home sick from school. In 1950 my brother was sent home from third grade with what turned out to be meningococcal meningitis, and of course he walked home (and my worried mother found him passed out face down in the snow in the front yard where he collapsed before he got to the door). That would be considered child abuse now, I suppose.

I used to walk a LOT when I was younger. In my 20's and 30's, I would walk 10+ miles almost every day just for fun and also as my main mode of transportation. I don't walk much at all any more but I probably should.
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Old 09-11-2014, 09:33 AM   #14
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On the topic of great walks, I follow this guy on Facebook. Absolutely remarkable.
Paul Salopek's Out of Eden Walk is a 7-year global journey in the path of early humans.
Out of Eden Walk
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Old 09-11-2014, 10:45 AM   #15
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A lot of AT purists don't think much of this fast packing without carrying her own gear, but she was just doing with previous speed record holders had done.
I always love when "purists" weigh in with their dismissive commentaries on the accomplishments of others. You can't worry about such attitudes and just have to hike your own hike.
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Old 09-11-2014, 10:48 AM   #16
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....
" Edward Payson Weston was a pedestrian little man .....

Ha
indeed. Ha.
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Old 09-11-2014, 10:53 AM   #17
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Imagine my reaction to the demonstrations in my neighborhood by the parents of the kids who would have to walk 1/4 mile to elementary school... on sidewalks that are 10 feet from the road.

Sheesh... and my trips back and forth were uphill both ways, and through 4 feet of snow in winter.
I have the advantage of raising my kids in the same house I grew up in. They both went to the same grade school I did. And we walked in my day, and my kids walked.... It started a bit of a trend... more families on the street started walking to school. It's 3/4 mile... but definitely doable.

Usually one parent will walk with a group of kids - coincidentally walking the dog at the same time.... From about grade 4, I no longer worried about having a parent with the kids. FWIW - the parent was more because local drivers are MUCH faster than they were 45 years ago when I was walking. 40mph on a residential street is excessive IMO.

I'll admit I drive my kids to the bus stop now that they're going to a magnet middle school - but the bus stop is 2.4 miles away and they have to be there at 6:30am... They'd have to leave in the middle of the night if I didn't.
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Old 09-11-2014, 10:53 AM   #18
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...(snip)...
Supposedly Paleolithic men and women average ~15 mpd just going about their business, in itself an amazing feat. I walk everywhere, but I sometimes feel the hills and a few days of 6-8 mpd and I am not exactly eager to go again. This Edward Weston must have been phenomenal.

Ha
Those Paleolithics didn't have long life expectancies like we have now. I would say not to push yourself to reach some high mileage number -- not that you would do this Ha.

Runners are regularly treated to how many marathons people run or some other figure of merit. Better minds have studied this and stated that 20 miles or so a week is great and more is not better and may be worse. FWIW, I've been a runner since the 1960's and haven't run anything more then 10 miles.

I wear a Vivofit band and my goal is 5 miles per day of walking or other movement. It's not that hard to do. The sports band helps to fill in the lazy days with a timely reminder.
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Old 09-11-2014, 02:50 PM   #19
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Walking stories are popular this month. The New Yorker has a piece on how walking helps us think. It sure helps me clear the mind fog.
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Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention. Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.
Why Walking Helps Us Think - The New Yorker
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Old 09-11-2014, 03:13 PM   #20
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It makes me crazy to see it, but where I live it's very common to see parents waiting in their cars to with their kids at the school bus stop so the kid is never out of sight (and their house is just half a block from the bus stop).
They do it here too, it's insane. I went to elementary school in the 1950s and everyone in our neighborhood walked the mile or so to school. Once in a blue moon Mom would drive us to school if the weather was particularly nasty (near-freezing, heavy rain) but that was rare.
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