Octogenarian begins walk across America

by Matt Corpening
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

For the second time in less than a week, a sojourner has embarked on a cross-country walk that began in New Hanover County.

Bruce Maynard is no stranger to challenges. Born June 30, 1935, Maynard has explored ancient underwater cities such as Sinuessa in the Mediterranean. In 1953, he served as a stenographer in the Korean War where he was stationed in Suwon, South Korea. He has walked across the U.S. four times, and has just embarked on his fifth attempt.  

The first time, in 2010, was from Vancouver to Key West by way of Denver and New Orleans. “I walked from Vancouver down to Los Angeles,” said Maynard of his fourth trek in a phone interview, March 9, 2013, “and then across the Mojave, across Arizona, across Texas, to Jacksonville, Fla., and then I walked up the coast and I stayed three or four months at Rodanthe in the Outer Banks, and I helped the people there clean up after Hurricane Irene. So, as I came through Wilmington, I left my cart there.”

Maynard pushed this cart, nicknamed Sam, the entire length of his cross-country journey. Sam contained a tent, extra clothes, some food and water, and a laptop used to update his blog, which now has 1,000 posts and more than 30,000 pictures. On March 7, 2013, he took Sam out of storage, and began walking north along US 17.

Maynard spent 2009 training for the original quest, “paying attention to your body,” he explained, “because the first year, I had two shin splints, one Achilles heel injury and two or three knee injuries. Through continuous walking, I can put my body in auto drive when I am on a straight stretch. The first three to four steps downhill, uphill, and corners, too, I must adapt my thinking in order to accommodate the different muscles that are in play.”  

Since 2010, the nearly 80-year-old Maynard said he hasn’t had so much as a blister.  

Having learned to fly an airplane in 45 minutes at age 12, and having worked every day of his life since, taking on big challenges is neither out of the ordinary nor burdensome.  

“The walking is not difficult at all. The challenge in walking across America, is the decision to do it,” he said. “When you make that decision it has to be a 100 percent decision; you can’t just do it halfway because you’re going to injure yourself. There’s no getting around it. When you start out, you have to leave everything behind — your home, your family, your business. You have to give up everything.”

Maynard will stop for three or four days in Columbia, N.C., where he will stay with friends he met on his first walk across America. Then he will continue his three-to-four-month walk that will end near his home in Washington State near the Canadian border, but his journey will not end there.

“My next walk will begin in Lisbon, Portugal, and I’m going to walk to Beijing, China,” he said.

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