It’s not every day that you decide to walk 222 km from Seattle to Vancouver without any preparation. Then again, it can be an easy ‘f*** it’ decision when you have been on the road for a while with that mindset. I wanted to push my personal limits and simply see if I would make it. The walk was also a promotional “stunt” to raise awareness for the Pole 2 Pole 4 Charity journey I was on. It even made the Seattle Times.
In order to not die, I took a Greyhound bus to Vancouver and dropped off my big bad & heavy bag (23kg) at a very friendly Couchsurfer’s place. Then I took the bus back to Seattle with a minimally packed small backpack and a handful of Couchsufing addresses, where I could spend some nights along the way. I kept a small diary, so you could replicate this if you’re crazy enough.
Day 1 – 14.3 mi / 23 km
Seattle Space Needle to Lynnwood
Walking next to a highway, just passing car dealers all day. Nothing exciting to report except for a couple of funny signs and a road side dildo. See the pictures at the bottom of this article.
Day 2 – 27.6 mi / 45 km
Lynnwood to Marysville
I couldn’t find anyone to couchsurf with near Marysville, so I calculated to find a motel and stay for a night.. Then, right next to the road I walked on, I saw an abandoned house. Knowing that these places are always full of stories, I decided to take a break from walking and have a look inside. After slowly entering, looking around and looking at the dates of some newspapers laying around, I realized the house has only been abandoned for 3 years or so. There was definitely nobody living there anymore, the house was completely trashed with papers and empty boxes, and most of the furniture was either removed or in a really bad shape.
I went upstairs on the railing-less stairs and I discovered the kid’s rooms. They were covered with children’s drawings, posters and for some reason hunting and fishing magazines. Slowly I picked a few interesting items up and took pictures of them.
Every item I picked up had a story, and it started to form a clear image of the past inhabitants’ lives. They were working class people; daughter working at Wall Mart, domestic violence present, teen pregnancy resulting in a miscarriage. The kids loved their parents though, and it seemed like they were happy. Why they had to leave their place in a hurry? Hard to tell. There wasn’t any burning marks or traces of fire, like at other abandoned places I’ve visited. It strikes me as especially odd that there were so many personal items still laying around, from paychecks to doctor’s notes.
It was getting dark, so I decided to stay there for a night.
There was nothing that even looked slightly comfortable (or clean) to sleep on but there was a couch on the first floor which still had it’s back-cushions attached to it. I flipped the couch and tried to sleep on it. It was horribly uncomfortable. Also, I made a small wall from a carton box (since the door was taken out), making sure that no weird animals would enter the room through the door while I was sleeping. It all went quite well, except for the fact that I didn’t have a blanket and it got really cold at night. So, at 2 am after 2 hours of trying to fall asleep, I decided to hit the road again.
Day 3 – 24 mi / 39 km
Marysville to Mt Vernon
I don’t remember much from this day except for some nice scenery and the fact that I was completely worn out. I had a sprained muscle on the upper side of my left foot and a very annoyingly located blister on the ball of my right foot, just under my toes. When I was walking I felt like, and probably looked like, forrest gump. I took a 5-10 minute break every hour to munch down a cereal bar, some almonds and drink some water. Also, at the end of the day I would drink a protein power mix to help my muscles recover. This tasted horrible because it had lumps in it, which contained bits of raw powder (since I didn’t bring a blender to mix it in).
Day 4 – 0.6 mi / 1 km
Chilling out in Mt Vernon (from the couch to the fridge and back)
I really, really needed a day off to take care of my blisters and give my leg muscles a rest. And I had a great host to stay with.
Day 5 – 25 mi / 41 km
Mt Vernon to Bellingham
More or less the same as day 3: almonds, powder, cereal bars, water and nice scenery. I followed a trail, and it felt good to be off the main road for a while. It’s quite hard mentally when cars are passing you by at a high speed and you have nowhere to walk except for the road surface marking on the side of the road which is about 30cm wide. I had a nice host in Bellingham too, and even though I was a bit tired we decided to go party.
Day 6 – 27 mi / 43 km
Bellingham to White Rock, Canada
Apart from a long dull walk next to a highway (again), I got to cross the border. It was much easier than I though it would be. They just asked for my passport, no questions asked (apart from “May I see your passport”). Since I couldn’t reach my couchsurfer in White Rock, I figured I could stay in a motel, since I didn’t stay in one on day 2. I dragged my feet into town, and found out that the only motel I’ve heard about was closed down. I asked a lady who was walking her dog if she knew some other motels, and because she didn’t knew any that were near, she decided to drive me to one. Goodhearted people still exist, and I guess a good story always helps. We drove north to an area with a few motels, and I found one called “Bollywood”. Promising. I got a late checkout (1pm) and a wake-up call (11am), but since the guy I checked in with didn’t tell the guy working the morning shift to wake me up, my wake-up call was more or less a “you have to leave NOW”-call.
Day 7 – 7 mi / 10 km
Surrey to Vancouver
After walking 10km, I felt like there was nothing to gain or prove any more. It would have been another day of walking next to the road in a big city, without many surprises. My feet were absolutely killing me, so I decided to take the skytrain for the last 10k. The story was already complete.
I’m proud that I’ve (more or less) made it from Seattle to Vancouver, but I would have prepared my trip differently next time, starting with my gear. I was wearing cotton t-shirts, jeans, and designer shoes. Not quite the outfit you would think of for walking such a distance. The intensity of the walk quickly took its toll on my shoes, and soon one of the souls had a hole in it.
As the landscape along the way was a bit boring and the rain felt a bit too much like home (The Netherlands), I will think twice before attempting to walk this route again. Perhaps I’ll even rent an RV next time and find a campground in Seattle to chill, like normal people do 😉