Walk on

Last summer I walked from Albany to Buffalo, following the Erie Canal.  It was to be a trial, of sorts, for the grand adventure of walking across America.  After reaching the end my mother asked how I felt. I replied that I was proud to have reached my goal, but that it didn’t feel as though I had gone far enough.  She replied, “Kelly, it’s never going to be far enough.”

Looking at the map and realizing that I am relatively close to the end of this adventure, I have a sneaking suspicion that she was right.

We’ve come so far, and the end so close.

I’m looking at this picture, contemplating how far Anna and I have walked and how far we’ve yet to go, and instead of being amazed at the distance we’ve already covered I find myself thinking it’s not going to be enough.  I’m not going to want to stop.

I both long for and fear the end of this adventure.

But regret nothing.


TravelPod and the Erie Canal

Hello world!

For those of you new readers, or those with poor memories, in 2010 Anna and I headed out on our first big adventure – to walk the Erie Canal.

We had some bumps along the way, but we were successful in our mission. We completed the entire Erie Canal, walking from Albany to Buffalo and a total of 450 miles.

If you haven’t read any of the adventure or seen the pictures, or if you’d like to re-visit the adventure, head on over to my TravelPod page to check it all out.

Man. That was a lot of work. It’s not all it could be, but it’s done. I’ll probably polish it up now and then, but for now I’m done with it. Enjoy!

Equipment Review: Erie Canal

Earlier, I posted an Equipment List and now I’m going to go through and review selected items. Not everything, because that would take forever. But random bits about what worked, what didn’t, what I could have done without, and a wish list for next time.

If there’s something that you’re curious about that I don’t go over here, feel free to comment and ask about it.

The Pack –

was wonderful. I love my pack. It took me that first week (okay, maybe even longer) to really figure out how to carry and adjust the pack so it wasn’t driving me insane and causing my shoulders a lot of pain, but once I figured it all out it was excellent. Lots of handy pockets for everything and plenty of space inside.

It has a nice little pouch along the back wall for a water bladder, which worked perfectly to store my laptop.

Anna’s Pack –

I loved it, but Anna absolutely hated it. By far the best feature of this pack is the ability to take off the saddle bags and leave the harness on. This was excellent for resting, but also means when Anna was really getting fed up I could easily unhook her pack and let her go run for a bit without having to wrestle the whole thing on and off.

Her pack also has water bladders in each saddle, but I couldn’t get them to work without leaking all over everything. Which was a pain since the only thing I didn’t put in a waterproof bag as her vet papers. I know, I have no idea what I was thinking.

The Tent –

Worked fine. It was light weight, super easy to set up and take down, and enough room for me, my dog, and our packs. But I do wish I could get one with a side entrance instead of the tunnel-like entrance. Like this one, which is basically the same tent, just with the side entrance.

Anna hated sleeping in the tent. I had to drag her in each night. But there was no way I felt comfortable letting her sleep outside. It’s just not an option. I have a feeling part of the problem was the entrance, which is part of the reason I’d like the side entrance. She doesn’t like enclosed spaces, and I think the tunnel-like quality just wasn’t making her that comfortable.

But really I can’t justify spending money on a new tent when I’ve got one that is perfectly fine.

Sleeping Bag –

It absolutely sucked. Hated it. It never kept me warm and it wasn’t comfortable. When I got back to Maine I went right to LL Bean and returned it, which they did with absolutely no fuss at all. One of the big reasons I love buying stuff from them.

Sleeping Pad –

This was just a personal preference thing, so I didn’t end up returning it or anything, but I do wish I had gone with a different kind. It did it’s job – keeping me off the cold ground that would have sucked out all my body heat – but it just wasn’t very comfortable.

And as silly as it sounds, I’d like to get some sort of small sleeping pad for Anna next time. This trip I brought along a small travel-section of her fleece blanket from home, but I don’t think that quite did the job. Each morning I’d wake up smooshed against the tent wall with Anna taking up most of the sleeping pad.

Clothes –

The jeans, while I did wear them, were bulky and heavy and took up too much space when not wearing. They were kind of nice to have, but I’ll probably leave them at home next time.

The conversion pants, while totally unflattering, were great. Lightweight, super quick to dry, comfortable, big pockets, and the when you unzip them to make shorts the shorts are a perfect length. (I have a problem with most ladies shorts being way too short and uncomfortable.)

They were perfect paired up with my long underwear on the colder days, and nice and lightweight on the hot days. And they dried off super fast after the couple of suprise!rainstorms I got stuck in.

They are one of the most unflattering pants ever, but because of all the other awesome features I’m thinking of getting a second pair for my next walk.

Things That Were Awesome –

One thing that I ended up getting at the last minute and was very thankful for was the Noxzema wipe thingies. I don’t know about you, but when I sleep in a tent I wake up feeling super grubby and have a hard time really feeling awake. The Noxzema wipes were the perfect small portable thing to just make me feel clean and fresh and help wake me up each morning. Seriously perfect.

My one cotton t-shirt. I had read in a book that it’s a good idea to take one set of comfy cotton clothes to change into when you make camp each night. Just something so you can change out of your stinky sweaty clothes you’ve been in all day and feel a little more relaxed. And oh my god they were so right. Such a small thing to do, but it made such a difference.

My walking stick. Oh my goodness, the walking stick. It was a birthday present from some friends, and I am so thankful for it. On some days, by the end of the day the only thing keeping me upright and moving was Anna on her leash and that wonderful wonderful walking stick.

I don’t know if I’ll be taking it on my next walk, since I plan to have a stroller/cart along with me, but I am definitely glad I had it with me along the Erie Canal.

Things I Didn’t Bring But Should Have

Shampoo and soap. Yeah yeah, I know. It’s a really silly thing not to bring with you, but I didn’t. And for the most part it was okay. I either stayed as a guest with strangers or in the occasional hotel, so there was shampoo and soap available. But there were a few times where there were showers or sinks available, but I would have had to supply my own soaps.

It wasn’t a huge deal, since I never went more than a week without staying somewhere with soap and shampoo and water for me to use, but just something I’ll bring with me next time.

Rope. It’s just handy to have and another thing I can’t believe I didn’t pack.

Okay, that’s all for now. I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch of awesome and not so awesome things, but that’s all I’ve got for now. (And that, dear brain, is why you should have done this right away instead of eight months later.)

Equipment List: Erie Canal

Here is a list of everything I took on my walk along the Erie Canal. I’m working on a separate post to review the items I brought, going through what worked and what didn’t, and what I’d leave at home next time.

    – 1 pair of jeans
    – 1 pair of conversion pants
    – 1 pair long underwear
    – 1 pair shorts
    – 1 long sleeve shirt
    – 2 tee-shirts (1 cotton, one hiking)
    – 2 tank tops
    – 5 pairs of underwear
    – 5 pairs of socks
    – 2 bras
  Rain jacket + rain pants
  Fleece jacket
  Sleeping pad
  Sleeping bag
  1 Nalgene bottle
  Walking Stick
  Flashlight/emergency radio
    – quick-dry adventure towel
    – toothbrush
    – toothpaste
    – Noxzema wipe thingies
    – contacts + solution
    – glasses
    – cell phone
    – laptop
    – mp3 player
    – digital camera

Anna’s Pack
  travel dog bowl
  poop bags
  vet papers
  bag balm

And some miscellaneous stuff such as: ibuprofen, antihistamines, crossword book, pens and paper, wallet w/ money and ID and stuff.

Anna’s food was divided into about 8-10lbs each and kept in waterproof ziploc freezer bags. I kept the bulk of her food in my bag, with about 5lbs in two separate bags divided between her two saddle packs. This means the farther I walked, the more she ate and the lighter my pack became!

I used the ziploc bags for a lot of stuff – to keep things water proof, or to put my dirty laundry separate from the rest, or just keep things a little more organized within the pack. And I took a few extras with me.

I’m sure there’s one or two items I’ve forgotten to mention, but that’s pretty much everything I took with me.

Edit: D’oh. Yeah, and I also took along a First Aid Kit, with some added first aid stuff for Anna.

If you’re interested, head on over to read my Equipment Review post.