Sep 05

Walking – Q&A with Nate Damm

Walking is a great way to get some in some good exercise, and a fun way to explore what you might otherwise miss. In 2011, Nate Damm walked from Delaware to California. This certainly qualifies him as an expert on the topic of walking. I spoke with Nate to learn more about walking, from his vast perspective.

Travis Blair: Walking across the country is an accomplishment that must have provided a unique perspective. Aside from the health benefits, what are some reasons for taking a good stroll that some people might not have considered?

Nate Damm: I think that a lot of people could benefit from walking more mainly because it really forces you to slow down. Walking is slow and not overly practical if you’re trying to get somewhere, but that’s what I believe makes it so great. The world continues to become more fast paced and it’s easy to get caught up in the rush. I know that for me, going for even a short walk is an amazing way to relax, gather my thoughts and better manage the pace of my day.

Travis: Say I’m looking to take a walk for a few hours, or even an entire day. What would you recommend I have on me?

Nate: Some comfortable footwear, snack, water. A rain jacket and umbrella if there is rain in the forecast. That’s about it! This is one of the things that I love most about walking, it doesn’t require any special or expensive gear at all.

Travis: Your extended walk gave you plenty of opportunities for contemplation. I like to plot and plan while walking my dog around the neighborhood. What did you think about to occupy your time while walking for months on end?

Nate: Oh, man! A little bit of everything. That said, on the walk across the U.S., I mostly tried my best to focus on my surroundings and stay mindful of where I was. Seeing new things every day in itself was usually enough to keep my mind occupied. I’d think about the flowers on the side of the road, the trees, the houses, the dogs barking at me, the roadkill, etc. There are really an abundance of things to look at and think about anywhere if your mind is in the right place. This did take some practice, though :)

Travis: During your trek across the country, did you ever just want to increase the pace and pick up a light jog?

Nate: At times, yes. Most often this was when it was getting dark and I was not yet in a place where I could camp or had a forthcoming destination in mind. There were some times where I definitely did run! I ran about 10 miles on one particular night through the high Sierras in almost total darkness, mostly out of sheer terror, while trying to reach a campground that someone had told me about.

Travis: If you could walk a great distance from one place to another anywhere in the world, where would you want to start and finish?

Nate: You know, I’d probably just walk across the U.S. again, to be honest. This country has so much to offer and I really enjoyed getting a close look into the place that I had always called home, but really knew very little about. I feel like another walk across America would still have a lot to teach me. I’m very sure that I’ll do it again at some point.

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You can learn more about Nate Damm and his walk across America by watching his TEDxTalk and by visiting natedamm.com.

Image credit: Nathan Damm