Josh Seehorn didn't hesitate when he dove into the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
It's something he had dreamed about for almost a year, since taking his first steps on another beach on the Pacific coast. After walking and running more than 4,800 miles in 360 days on the American Discovery Trail, Seehorn completed his trek March 15 at Cape Henlopen State Park.
And for a man who is never at a loss for words, he had a hard time at first trying to explain the jubilation of completing his quest. “This is such a huge reward,” he said looking at the breaking waves. “It's surreal to finally be here.”
He was also overwhelmed that family and friends were there to greet him. “This is great. When I started, it was me all alone,” he said. “I never expected this.”
He also thanked Brittani Stanga, who filled in to drive his support vehicle for part of the journey.
High school students compete in Envirothon
This year's Delaware Envirothon – scheduled Thursday, April 10 – will feature 17 teams of five students. Sussex Tech is the lone Sussex County high school participating.
The winning team represents the state in national competition. Last August, Seehorn took time off from his walk/run to attend the North American Envirothon in Bozeman, Mont.
Among those welcoming him to the end of his journey was Sen. Ernie Lopez of Lewes, who was all smiles as he watched Seehorn jump into the ocean. “This is the coolest thing I've done since being elected to office,” he said.
Seehorn, a state and national coordinator for the North American Envirothon program, dedicated his walk/run to raising awareness about the program. As a past participant, it helped him decide his future path; he has degrees in wildlife and fisheries biology.
Seehorn, of Athens, Ga., started his trek on March 21, 2013, at Point Reyes National Seashore, Calif. His adventure took him through small towns, large cities and on trails over mountains, through woods and even into the desert. Pushing a cart filled with essential gear for life on the road – as well as a solar panel to charge his phone and other electronics – Seehorn set out to discover America up close. “I learned Americans are very generous people. I've been overwhelmed,” he said.
He ran across a black bear and a mountain lion and saw some of the best scenery the country has to offer. He took in the view from more than 13,000 feet at Argentine Pass in Colorado, the highest point of the trail, took time to visit Yellowstone National Park, rewarded himself with waffles after a 41-mile day in Williamsport, Md., and visited Washington, D.C.
People from all walks of life invited Seehorn into their homes. “I had a real bond with the people I met; they are all new friends,” he said. “The slow pace forced me to interact with people.”
Averaging 20 to 25 miles per day, he endured the desert sun and sub-zero temperatures along the way, taking on one of the worst winters in recent memory in the Mid-West and on the East Coast. During his crossing of Ohio, on one day he struggled wearing snow shoes to cover 13 miles in more than 10 hours. He called that his most challenging day.
He stopped along the way to talk about the Envirothon to anyone who would listen including church and civic groups and school classes. He did TV, radio and newspaper interviews to promote his cause.
Seehorn is no stranger to long-distance walking; he walked the Appalachian Trail in 2011. All totaled, he has walked and run about 7,000 miles over the past four years. After his AT walk, he started growing his trademark beard.
“Yeah, some people called me Forrest Gump, but more people said I looked like one of the fellows on Duck Dynasty, and that's all right with me,” he said.
The day before he started his walk/run, he completed the LA Marathon.
After returning home to Georgia, he plans to write a book about his adventure, get back to drumming and riding his motorcycle – and getting back to work as an environmental contractor and forest firefighter.
But one can only wonder what's next on Seehorn's list of great adventures. “I would do this again in a heartbeat,” he said.
Read Josh Seehorn's blog at outdoorjosh.com. For more information on Envirothon go to www.envirothon.org.