In late September 2012, way up in Alberta near the huge tar sands pits that have expanded greatly there in recent years, Ken Ilgunas started walking south. He kept walking for the next 1,700 miles until he reached Port Arthur, Texas in February of 2013. He had walked the entire length of the infamous Keystone XL Pipeline. His journey was part grand adventure and part environmental awareness campaign. He also wanted to learn as much as he could about the pipeline, get to know some of the people who live along the way, and find out their thoughts on it. It’s an impressive journey and a major accomplishment.
The proposed route for the pipeline parallels the proposed route for the GPT pretty well in many areas. It’s not until Kansas and Oklahoma that the pipeline route gets too far east to be on what most people define as the Great Plains. So, given where he was, it not surprising that he developed a fondness for this amazing place, and the scenery that greeted him each day as he worked his way south, staying just a few steps ahead of winter. In fact, while on his journey, Ken had a strong sense that some sort of long distance trail should exist here, so that more people could experience the joys of walking the plains. I couldn’t agree more.
Ken is currently working on a book about his trek, which will actually be his second book. He is also the author of Walden on Wheels, which is about how he tackled massive student loans by living in a van at Duke University. Ken also has a blog called Pipe Dreams. You can click the following link to learn more about his epic trek, as well as read his other writings, which are all very good: