Only recently did I start this column, so let me take a quick moment to catch you up if you are new here.  I am writing this column to document my walking journey from New Jersey to Maine in 2018 along the East Coast Greenway, which runs 3,000 miles from Calais, ME, near the Canadian border, all the way to Key West in Florida. My walk will average around 450 miles.

I will travel on foot along the East Coast Greenway, and raise funds to support both the East Coast Greenway Alliance and a walking group called Freewalkers in memory of my husband, Michael Popper, who I lost in the summer of 2016.  You can read more in my initial entry here.

A vision of the East Coast Greenway Alliance (ECGA) is to connect cities, and to help individuals navigate their way into and out of urban areas safely.  It also works with suburban community members to connect trails from town to town. 

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Last night I had the pleasure of meeting some representatives at a presentation held at the REI Soho store in New York City.  There were both greenway staff and trustees in attendance.  I was there to listen, and then intended to pick the brains of people who travel the thoroughfare, and who can speak authoritatively on the condition of the trails.

The talk focused on the current state of the greenway, detailed some of the bicycling trips they run, like the “Week a Year Bike Tour,” and touched on the River Relay celebration of the East Coast Greenway’s 25th anniversary.

I patiently sat through each presentation, waited for raffle ticket numbers to be called (I won a hat!), and then finally cornered Bruce Donald.  He is the Tri-State Greenway Coordinator, and he knew of my story.  He and I are going to set up a conference call with Lisa Watts, the author of the article the ECGA had done on me, to see how we can spread the word of my walk, and word of the greenway itself.  I am really looking forward to hearing about how others have fared in endeavors similar to mine.

As I said, this walk won’t start until 2018.  In the meantime, I need to challenge myself to do longer walks.  In the immediate future, I will be joining Freewalkers, the other organization that can receive donations via my event, on their greenway walk on May 20th.  "The Big Walk," the group’s eighth annual super distance trek, averages about fifty participants, with only about ten going the entire distance.

Metropark, NJ will be the starting point, and it will end in New York at Penn Station.  A portion of the route will mimic the start of my route next summer.

  • Segment 1 - Metropark to Cranford - 6:00 am to 9:30-10:30 am (12 miles)
  • Segment 2 - Cranford to Newark - 10:30 am to 5:00 pm (16 miles)
  • Segment 3 - Newark to NYC Penn Station - 5:30 pm to 11:00 pm (13 / 20 miles)

Here’s a look at the full itinerarypdf, in case you are interested in joining us!

How can you stay in touch and keep up with my trip beyond this column?  Well, check out my new Facebook page, Jenn’s Journey North.  I encourage you to be a part of the conversation there!

You might also be featured here in a future column wearing your bracelet, specially created for my walk with a NJ --> ME charm by a friend of mine; she will donate 25% of her commission to both Freewalkers and the East Coast Greenway Alliance.

The pictures you see in the gallery are from some close friends of mine, along with my feisty and adorable niece, Isabella.  You can forward your picture to jpopper@tapinto.net or share it on the Facebook page.

My journey is a way for me personally to honor my husband’s memory, and to do some good along the way, both by making it a fundraiser to benefit two terrific organizations that promote a healthy lifestyle, and by hopefully inspiring you, the reader, to get outside, too.

Want to walk with me, Plainfield neighbors?  Let me know!