Friday, April 11, 2008

Video Finally Online!

Well, it took a little longer than April 1, but here it is folks, my world premiere on Youtube containing about ten minutes worth of footage from the last two days of the hike, including my triumphant plunge into the Atlantic.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Greetings, thanks, and farewell from Vienna!

I thought this would be my absolute last blogging post (and truth be told, I'm not sure how many people are checking at this point), but there will be one more once I finally figure out how to upload the video of my final day of hiking onto Youtube and then link it or import it to the blog. However, having come to Vienna this past week, I've been insanely busy in my old hometown (I was an exchange student here for six months in high school), so things have taken a little longer than I had hoped. But rest assured, the video will be online by the end of the month- and that's a guarantee.
In the meantime, as I bid a fond farewell, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made my hike such a great adventure and such a successful fundraiser for the Fisher House Foundation. My first thanks go to the Fisher House Foundation itself for their support and cooperation. They were always eager to provide me with brochures, t-shirts, logistical aid, and moral support (but not van insurance). The work they do is so vital and terrific, as was their support of my efforts. Also, a big thank you as well goes out to the men and women of our armed forces for the work that they do protecting our freedom on a daily basis. And likewise, just as Fisher House, our troops, and I all helped each other out, so did everyone who donated to the Fisher House Foundation throughout the course of my hike. Thanks to you all for your generous support of a great cause.
While the number of people who helped me out personally is far too great to mention, a few also deserve special recognition here. These include all my couch surfing and hospitality club friends, the Ft. Kent, ME historical society, Don Whipple, Russ and Lisa Topmann, the staff of the Young House B & B in Millinocket, ME, Robert Burns, Cullen Blake, Adam Nebesar and Jason Kivett, John Tanski, the Youth Hostel in Dudley, MA, Greg Parker, Jackie Banks, Bruce and Lynda Limpert (and Lynda's sister), Anne and Jeff Bingaman, the Abrecht Family, Nick Spike, the gang from Jeopardy, Paris Goodnight, the Humphries Family, Kenny Kearse, Paul and Ellen Hickey, the Hoffmann and Matthews Families, Dan Sullivan, the Rotary Clubs of St. Augustine, Ormond Beach, and Daytona Beach, the VFW folks in Delray Beach- especially Linda Roman and Linda Makel, Alice and Craig McClelland, the Harter/Herndon Family, Richard Conkright, Jerry Hughes, and Roger Heise. Also, thanks to everyone who gave me free food (there were possibly hundreds of you!) and to all the reporters and media people who helped cover my trek. And finally, a huge thank you to my family for all their support and encouragement over the past seven months.
That's all for now- happy trails!
-David Madden, aka USAhiker
Vienna, Austria
March 16, 2008

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Now that I'm back in New Jersey (for about a week or so before moving to Vienna) I've had some time to think about the past seven months and what I will really remember about the hike. Of course, I'll have a lot more time to think in the coming months, as I put my recollections into book form, but for now a few things bear mentioning.
First, I lucked out unbelievably with the weather. There was a well-nigh unprecedented drought in the Southeast this fall and winter, which, while not kind to farmers certainly helped me out. Last summer was also rather dry up in New England, at least while I was up there. In fact, throughout the hike there weren't more than maybe twenty five days out of over 200 during which it rained at all, and of those twenty, there were maybe only about 5 washouts. And due to a rather flexible schedule, I only hiked through one of those. Also, as far as temperatures go, I never experienced temperatures colder than the upper twenties (in Virginia in November- though on my last day in Georgia, the wind chill was in the teens at most) or warmer than the upper eighties. Of course, given my route and timeframe which was designed to avoid temperature extremes, this wasn't as fortuitous as the lack of precip was.
Secondly, there were a number of questions I got in all spots I hiked through which I'll repeat here: "How many shoes have you been through?" (Ans. five, although I hiked 80% of the hike in just two pairs- my favorite being the New Balances I bought at the New Balance factory up in Maine) "How much weight have you lost?" (Ans. only about five pounds- remember, I wasn't hiking the Appalachian Trail for most of the way and had ready access to junk food, fast food, and sit down restaurants alike) "Have you had any bad experiences?" (Ans. There was one guy up in southern Maine who almost sicced his pit bull on me even though I wasn't even on his property, but one bad apple hardly spoiled the hike) and "How long did it take?" (Ans. 7 months and two days and about 2600 miles, though I lost track of the miles after Connecticut or so)
Finally, what impressed me the most was both the diversity of the places that I hiked through (the mountains of Maine, New York City, Amish Country, Washington DC, the rolling hills of Virginia, rural South Carolina, the beach in Florida) and the widespread generosity of people to both me and the Fisher House Foundation. While I'll save my formal thank yous for my final post this coming week, it suffices to say at this point that I experienced kindness in all corners, whether from Honduran immigrants in the Bronx, skateboarding teenagers in North Carolina, backwoodsmen in Maine and South Carolina, US Senators in Washington, old friends, new friends, the Fisher House Foundation itself, and of course my family. Not only would my hike not have been possible without you, but it wouldn't have been the grand adventure it was.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


After 2600 miles, give or take a hundred, 7 months, 1 day and 19 hours, I jumped into the Atlantic Ocean off the south shore of Key West yesterday morning (Feb. 18- and yes, I pushed back my flight by two days) and the epic trek passed into the history books! Well, not quite yet in all honesty. That will happen over the next six months or so as I go back and relive the hike while writing a memoir of it. I have no idea whether I could get it published on a commercial basis, but I would like to do it for friends, family, myself, and not least, those of you who have kept up with my journey via this blog. If you are interested in a copy, send me an email at, and when it's ready, I'll be in touch.
In actuality, the Key West Death March took three days longer than originally planned, but was still probably the most intense part of the hike. Two days in particular stand out. First, there was a 46 mile haul about a week ago to get down to Key Largo from Coral Gables, which included a 20 mile long stretch through the Everglades at night. This included passing by a "crocodile crossing" sign and being urged on by swarms of hungry mosquitoes, which, rather conveniently, only bit me when I stopped for breaks. Then, two days ago, I cranked out the last 38 miles of the Overseas Highway (an accurate and fantastic name for the portion of good old US 1that connects the Keys) in hot sunshine and unseasonable humidity.
But it was all worth it- Key West was a great spot to end the trek, and I had a great, if all too brief time there. I'll continue to update the blog for the next two weeks with more stories from the Keys, my thoughts in retrospect, and as promised, both pictures and video footage of the final stages.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Behind the eight ball...

Uh, I'm in Boca Raton and it's 3:16pm on Monday afternoon. 200 miles on the nose await me before Key West. I would like to arrive Friday afternoon- so let's see, that's four days, uh 50 miles a day. Um, somehow, somehow I'm going to make this work. So I'll start with cutting off this blog posting now to go hike:)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Key West Death March

Greetings from Vero Beach- with just nine days, but a whopping 300 miles to go. Having made a quick trip back to New Jersey last week, and contracting a bad cough in the process, the margin for error is now nil, since my flight back to Newark is booked for the morning of Feb. 16. So blisters, fatigue, nagging cough, hot weather, and all else be damned, one way or another (probably the copious amounts of espresso and Red Bull way, to be honest) this hike will be in the books come sunset on the fifteenth.
Still, it's not all that bad. The weather has been hot (Melbourne, FL set a record high of 87 yesterday right as I was hiking through) but not humid or wet. It's also been staying light until 6:30 which helps too. And Florida is as flat as a pancake with many convenient libraries, motels, and junk food stores to fuel the fire within.
That's all for now, have to get back to the road. Look for about two more updates before the final report- which will have a link to a Youtube video of my triumphant entry down Duval Street in the heart of Key West.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hello Again!

First off, I apologize for having been incommunicado for the last few weeks. Suffice it to say that they have been some of the craziest in my life. I won't go through all the details here, but two events should be shared with all and sundry. First off, I've been on hike hiatus for most of this time, taking care of a number of important things. One of which was running the Miami Marathon this past Sunday. I had never run a marathon before, and back in 2002, when I did run about 25 miles one night in Berlin just for fun, it took me about 5 hours and I was in agony at the end.
Granted, I have been very physically active over the last six months, but I know of no one who has ever trained for a marathon by six months of hiking. So I had no clue what to expect in terms of my ability to finish, let alone my timing. So I was in a bit of shock when mile after mile went by, I felt great with my Ipod urging me along, and I never hit the proverbial "wall" around mile 20. Final time for my first marathon: 3:51,33. I'm hooked. One of the best experiences of my life. I'm already set to run two more marathons in Europe in the spring, and I've even registered for an Ironman triathlon in England in September! Impossible is nothing.
Then yesterday night in Delray Beach, FL, Linda Roman and Linda Makel of the local VFW Post put together a great dinner and fundraiser for the Fisher House Foundation on behalf of my hike. All told, we raised $1360, by far the greatest amount I've raised at any club or post so far! I highly doubt that I will reach my goal of $50,000 by the end of my hike, but rest assured that I will keep speaking to Rotary Clubs, VFW posts, American Legions, and other groups until I reach the $50,000 mark. Plus, with the hike over, I'll be able to put together a great audio-visual presentation with photos set to my favorite hiking songs. Let me know if you know a group that might be interested in hearing the tale of my epic adventure!
And now, providing I get over this pesky cough, it will be back to the road tomorrow, with an ETA in Key West now of Feb 14.