After walking almost 2,000 miles in the last eight months, a retired Sebastopol couple is back home and taking a winter break from their coast-to-coast hike.
Jerry Bowerman, 62, and his wife Karen Clark, 61, started out in late February on the eastern shores of Delaware and so far have walked through eight states, reaching Kansas City, Mo.
They flew home last week to rest and regroup for a few months before they go back to Missouri, to pick up where they left off.
“It's been awesome, beyond my wildest expectations,” Bowerman said. “The people we've met, the history we've seen and the number of trails we've walked on, has been absolutely mind-boggling.”
Married for more than three decades, the couple always loved backpacking. When Bowerman retired from his gardening business earlier this year, he and Clark, a recently retired county public health nurse, decided to follow their dream to hike the 5,057-mile American Discovery Trail.
Most of it runs through public land, such as forests and historic canal routes, but it also comes close to major metropolitan areas, including St. Louis, Chicago and Cincinnati. It wends its way over the Rockies, through the desert and Sierra Nevada, before ending at Point Reyes National Seashore.
Described as the country's first coast-to-coast, non-motorized trail, only about 20 people have completed the entire route over the past two decades, according to the American Discovery Trail Society.
“One guy ran ran it. Someone else did it with a horse,” Clark said.
Along the way, Bowerman and Clark have experienced their share of unpleasantness, from clouds of mosquitoes, to ticks, chiggers, biting flies, poison ivy and blisters.
It's well chronicled in a blog Karen writes almost daily at www.trailjournals.com/karenandjerry.
“It doesn't all happen at once,” Bowerman said of the litany of discomforts and hazards, including rattlesnakes, oppressive heat, driving rain and scary-close thunder and lightning.