May 19, 2009

Trans-Continental Ride

For several years I have had this strange ambition to ride across North America. Specifically, I want to horse-pack, that is ride and camp, over 3,000 miles. I figure I can do it in six months, though it could take up to a year. (I might be able to squeeze it out in four months, but I’m too lazy for that.) I can’t really explain it, except that it is an experience I genuinely desire to have. Some people want to climb Everest or run a hundred marathons or win the World Series. I just want to spend the better part of a year putting permanent calluses on my ass and generally travelling through isolated places no sane person would find themselves in.

I have contemplated starting as far east as Newfoundland, though Maine might be closer, debated whether to take the north route or south route around the Great Lakes, whether or not to dip far enough south to pick up the Cowboy Trail across Nebraska, and where to cross the Rocky Mountains. I could start backwards, in Vancouver or Seattle. Would I want GPS, or try it with paper maps? I’d need several months of preparation and trying time before setting out. I don’t particularly want to travel alone, for safety reasons, though I wouldn’t completely discount the possibility, but three people almost seems like a crowd. And whoever comes on this journey needs to be comfortable with long silences. I figure one hardy riding horse (each), someone with good endurance and sure-feet, and a sturdy pack pony, maybe a mule, would suit. And, of course, a dog.

This journey, if it is ever undertaken, may be years in the future. Today as I waited for my computer to run an intersect algorithm on a pair of shape files, I idly browsed for trail maps on the internet. (I’d love to “off-road” it, but I figured I’d just end up pissing off private property owners from sea to shining sea.) I found the Trans Canadian Trail, 21,500 kilometers of middle-of-nowhere goodness, of which 14,500 kilometers is already developed and ride ready. It’s still a dream, but an achievable one.

Maybe for my fourth book: Sitting in the Saddle?


john said...

I'll go.

Teacher Jim said...

Might I suggest hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (or the Appalachian Trail) - lots of silence but wonderful people along the way, and the added bonus of spectacular scenery. And I think you can horse pack it to (but I think walking is better). And no need to take anyone along.

aka Dragon's Breath (Appalachian Trail'98)

Monica said...

Nah, I don't want to just hike. The horse is half the point, ya know. They aren't just transportation like a bike or a car. Horses are great teachers and they completely change our perception of the world around us. They are also very good at bringing us out of our own head space and helping us stay present.