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May 6, 2009
Preparations: Mapping the route

“The journey not the arrival matters.”
– T. S. Eliot

I had decided to walk halfway across California, from our home in the Bay Area to our vacation home in Gold Country. When we drive this route by car, it clocks out at about 140 miles. At a rate of 15 miles (about 5 hours of walking) per day, I could complete the walk in 10 days.

Because I wanted to be walking on my actual birthday, May 21, I scheduled the walk for roughly the last couple of weeks in May. Coincidentally, I would have a break in my current work assignments beginning on May 15.

Both my wife Gail and my son Joss expressed an interest in joining me. But because school would still be in session in May, they could only participate on weekends. Joss was especially interested in walking across the Altamont Pass in Central California, an historic immigrant trail that is now covered with windmills.

Here then were the parameters so far:

Halfway through the preparations, I suddenly had a “D’oh” moment. Instead of walking from the Bay Area to Gold Country, wouldn’t it be better to walk from Gold Country to the Bay Area? There were several advantages. First, I would end my trip at home, so I could crash more easily if I were utterly exhausted. Second, more of the overall trip would be downhill.

With this “flip” in mind, the schedule fell into place. Crossing the Altamont Pass would occur about halfway through the trip, so it fit perfectly into Memorial Day weekend. After several weeks of mapping and identifying suitable lodgings, here is the schedule I have ended up with:

Friday, May 15Drive to Mountain home
Saturday, May 16Walk to Mokelumne Hill9.25 miles
Sunday, May 17Walk to Valley Springs13.23 miles
Monday, May 18Walk to Lockeford21.05 miles
Tuesday, May 19Walk to Stockton15.25 miles
Wednesday, May 20Walk to Lathrop14.3 miles
Thursday, May 21Walk to Tracy12.08 miles
Friday, May 22Rest in Tracy
Saturday, May 23Walk to Livermore15.34 miles
Sunday, May 24Walk to Pleasanton15.12 miles
Monday, May 25Walk to Fremont15.88 miles
Tuesday, May 26Walk to Milpitas12.61 miles
Wednesday, May 27Walk to Cupertino16.07 miles

160.18 miles in 12 days (The total is higher than 140 miles because I have to bypass all freeways)

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