Man makes 20K-mile trek to each national park
September 12, 2017
How can I be an adventurer?
That's the question Blake Robinson asked himself about 18 months ago, before he began the most epic and significant journey of his life.
Robinson took off on foot from Yellowstone National Park 47 days ago, the beginning of a self-mapped trail that will lead him 20,000 miles around the country to all of the 47 national parks in the continental United States.
It's a process Robinson said will take around three years to complete.
"I've done a lot of shorter trails like the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail," said Robinson. "I was thinking if you're capable of doing something like that, why not do something else? I wanted to go bigger."
The 35-year-old Robinson grew up in upstate New York, but has lived in Colorado for the last eight years where he worked primarily at Aspen Mountain, managing ticket departments and training new employees.
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About ten years ago Robinson decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, his first major hike. The experience changed his life.
"That was the most amazing experience of my life," said Robinson. "It completely changed my path, and made me think about what is important.
"A lot of people want to start developing a career or working towards a title or something. And there's nothing wrong with that or building a career. But experience is so valuable too. The amount that I've learned about myself, the physical fitness I've built, the people I've met and the faith in humanity I've received is so important."
Robinson said be started planning the trip about a year and a half ago. He worked three jobs to save up for the journey, sold all his belongings and left. He said the trip would cost about $70,000 over the three years.
So far Robinson has walked about 900 miles from Yellowstone, through Grand Teton National Park and to Rocky Mountain National Park, just the third stop of the trip. The route will eventually take him south through Texas, down to Florida, up to Maine and all the way back to the west coast where he will finish at Joshua Tree National Park.
While he is planning on walking a large majority of the trail, Robinson said he plans to bike through parts of Texas.
The walk is Robinson's alone, though he said he is hoping to connect with as many people as he can along the way, and that he often relies, as Vivien Leigh may say, on the kindness of strangers.
"It gets lonely being by yourself all the time, but it's really cool being able to connect with people in towns, and figuring out the best way to do that," said Robinson. "I feel like there may potentially be a market where I could trade a place to stay or a dinner for some stories on the trail. It's kind of a bit weird, but I think there are people out there that want to do it."
Robinson said he has received generosity from numerous strangers since beginning his trip. A woman gave him a ride from Berthoud Pass to Fraser a couple days ago, a family offered to let him stay at their condo for free for two days and a couple even stopped their car to give him cantaloupe the other day.
Robinson said he is also looking to connect with schools on his journey, offering to come in and do a Q&A, or even leading budgeting workshops to teach kids how to responsibly save for their goals.
Next up for Robinson is the Great Sand Dunes National Park, then off to Mesa Verde. You can follow his trip at Walktheparks.com, where he journals his trip, and provides interesting statistics on how many steps he's taken, how much water he's drunken and more.
"This adventure isn't about some sort of political movement or a cause," said Robinson. "It's about sharing and enjoying the outdoors, and I think everybody can get behind that.
"I want to encourage people to chase their dreams. If you plan things out, and you really want it you can do anything. If I think about it in terms of I've only done 900 miles and I have over 19,000 miles to go that's daunting. But if I break it up into little pieces and do it, anything can be accomplished."