By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Ed Talone has hiked all over the United States and Canada. This spring he is trying something new.
Talone, 63, has hiked more than 75,000 miles over 40 years, but was drawn to the continent’s mightiest river for his latest adventure.
On Jan. 12, the Portsmouth, Ohio resident embarked on a hike alongside the Mississippi River. He began at Tidewater, La., where the river hits the Gulf of Mexico.
Talone hopes to reach Lake Itaska in northern Minnesota, the river’s source, sometime in May.
Talone passed through Ste. Genevieve last week, staying one night at the Main Street Inn.
He is not making the walk to win any contest, raise money for anything, or break any records.
“I just like to walk,” he said. “I like seeing places I haven’t been. Whenever I can, I try to go someplace I haven’t seen before. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the Mississippi. I’ve seen the section just north of St. Louis. Most of it’s new to me.”
Following the Mississippi seemed like a natural challenge.
“You’re not always walking next to it, obviously, especially in Missouri, but you get to walk along some pretty good chunks of it,” he said. “I’ve hiked just about everything in this country.”
Talone usually averages 18-20 miles per day, staying over each night, unless severe storms are predicted.
“Then I’ll make other plans,” he said. “I keep an eye on the weather.”
Some days he has started off as early as 5 a.m., to try to beat storms.
“It really depends on the weather,” Talone said. “It’s very unusual hiking in that I pretty much have to town-hop between towns. It’s mostly muddy fields right up to the roads.”
That can make the physical hiking difficult. Then, of course, there is the matter of overnight stays.
Like Blanche DuBois, a character in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Talone frequently finds himself depending on the kindness of strangers for overnight camping.
“I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow night,” he said. “I have to find either a church I can camp behind, or a firehouse – someplace where I can just put up a tent. Every day I have to figure that out as I go.”