The summer of 2018 has seen a number of long walks and bike rides on the Greenway — including the first two people to walk the entire route. Here, updates on some of the treks.
Just some of the long-distance travelers on the East Coast Greenway this summer:
To a person, whether biking or walking, each long-distance traveler this summer has wished for more miles of protected Greenway. And while they've encountered hills, headwinds, rain, and more challenges, they've also met kind strangers, been delighted by coastal vistas, and grown stronger.
"We know the East Coast Greenway is well used and loved: over 10 million people visit sections of the Greenway every year," says Niles Barnes, East Coast Greenway Alliance deputy director. "This year we saw dramatic growth in the number of people walking and biking long distances. Brett and John are the first people to walk the entire route in a single trip. And Lisa and Dee Bird biked the whole route in 57 days, a record as far as we know. Congratulations to all of this summer's travelers and to the many more who are inspired to begin their own East Coast Greenway journeys."
Here are updates on a few of these treks.
A year ago, Jenn Popper decided to turn a tragic life event — losing her husband and their kayak guide in a storm off the coast of Maine two years ago, and barely surviving herself — into a positive by taking a long walk (read earlier story). So in June she set off from her home in New Jersey. On August 1 she reached Gouldsboro, Maine, where she and Michael were vacationing when they went out in kayaks. She's been hot and tired for weeks, but she's proud of raising awareness — and significant dollars, more than $8,500 — for the East Coast Greenway along with the nonprofit distance walking organization, FreeWalkers.
“It’s healing, it’s cathartic,” Jenn told the Ellsworth American on her second to last day of walking. “I can’t not think of [the kayak accident], especially coming back to this place. But then you get these moments of inspiration. The other day I caught a glimpse of Schoodic Mountain and I thought ‘We hiked that. And it’s still there.’ ”
The fact that Lisa and Dee finished their two-month ride up the Greenway on schedule amazed some friends and followers. Not so much this duo, who have ridden a number of week-long trips and run a few marathons together in their 30-plus years of friendship. Once they had survived a week of heat, humidity, and headwinds in Florida, they knew they would be fine — even when they hit the hills of Maine. The thrill of turning onto beautiful greenways after riding on a busy road and the kindness of friends, family, and strangers all along the route made their trip spectacular, they say. Read more
Through cold and heat, wind and rain, Brett Bramble and John "Stick" Azerolo — and Domino — walked the East Coast Greenway day after day for six months. Their purpose: Talking with thousands — reporters, public safety officers, advocacy groups, locals —about the national epidemic of drug addiction and overdoses. The two men connected with, hugged, and comforted hundreds of people who have lost loved ones to overdoses. "Sometimes you just have to listen," they say. And they kept smiling and kept walking. Bramble hopes to create an addiction treatment center, Freedom to Grow, where people with troubled pasts, behavioral disorders, and/or substance use disorder can spend nine months living and working on a farm in north Georgia and learn how to live happy, healthy, and self-sufficient lives.
The nonprofit FreeWalkers — which offers events, information, and networking to educate the public on the benefit of walking — has partnered with the East Coast Greenway Alliance on a number of distance-walking events in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. This past spring, Paul Kiczek, founder and director of FreeWalkers, took to two wheels for a change and biked the Greenway from Key West to his home in New Jersey. Read his blog account of his trip
Meanwhile three fellow FreeWalkers — Ken Kurland, Loredana Delucchi, and Nancy Jonap — have been walking from New York City to Canada in week-long segments for the last five years. Read Portland Press Herald story about their 2018 walk with the great headline, "Sick of car culture, Ken Kurland makes a point of walking – everywhere." They arrived in Canada on August 6.
We'll send monthly updates on East Coast Greenway progress and people.
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