Hiking the XL

I am currently hiking the 1,700 mile proposed Keystone XL route. I started in Denver, hitchhiked across the Canadian border, took a flight over the Tar Sands of Alberta, and commenced my walk in Hardisty, AB, the northern terminus of the soon-to-be pipeline.

Part I: Preparation

9/4/12: Packing my food boxes in Denver

9/7/12: I break my toe a week before my hike. Pack more stuff.

9/14/12: Goodbye dinner, more foot problems, and a drive-by

Part II: Hitchhiking to the Tar Sands, from Denver, CO to Fort McMurray, AB

9/17/12: I set off on my hitchike north to Canada

9/18/12: Cross the border into Canada!

9/22/12: I make it to the Tar Sands of Northern Alberta

9/24/12: I hitchhike back down to Hardisty, the northern terminus of the proposed Keystone XL

Part III: The Long Walk

9/27/12: I begin my hike in Hardisty. Experience early foot problems.

10/1/12: More foot problems as I travel south through Alberta

10/4/12: Finally get going, have an interesting bar experience upon crossing Alberta/Saskatchewan border

10/10/12: Down and out in Shaunavon, SK. Severe shin splint issue.

10/22/12: Ferocious winds and an interview with CBC News in Saskatchewan and Montana

10/30/12: A posse of paranoid Montanans surround my tent

11/6/12: I talk with landowners who resent the pipeline

11/12/12: I am hit by a winter storm, and hole-up in my tent for three straight days

11/18/12: I make my way down through South Dakota and reflect on the importance of the fight against the XL

11/27/12: It finally happens. I'm attacked by cows

11/28/12: Video diary, parts 1-10

12/1/12: I make it into Nebraska and broach the subject of climate change with landowners

12/3/12: I am on a quest to get to Albion for a big important hearing on the XL, but I get arrested and escorted out of town for supposedly breaking into a home and letting out a dog.

12/6/12: I do a radio interview with Dick Gordon.

12/8/12: A man known as the "ex-Governor of Nebraska" escorts me along the pipeline path for a day. And he gives me my first ever horse riding experience.

12/9/12: I talk with opponents of the Keystone XL at a meeting in Albion, Nebraska.

12/11/12: Rick Hammond, a Nebraska farmer, joins the expedition.

12/18/12: Rick, sore and weary, leaves the expedition.

12/22/12: I make it into Kansas. 

12/25/12: On Christmas day, I write to a church I stayed at in Nebraska. 

12/27/12: I speak with a county commissioner from Kansas who has plenty to say about TransCanada and the Keystone Pipeline. 

12/29/12: It's Christmas in Kansas, and a small Labrador Retriever follows me for the whole day. 

1/5/13: I make it into Oklahoma. Reflections on poverty and crazy dogs. 

1/13/13: Mother Jones interviews me and does a video montage of my journey. 

1/15/13: Unbelievably, I make it through Oklahoma alive. 

1/20/13: I write an article about my hike for Salon.

1/25/13: More media. Huffington Post interviews me on their TV station. 

1/28/13: A guy named Storms joins me on my hike, and we almost get arrested for trespassing. Plus, an interview with Texan Mike Bishop. 

1/29/13: More footage from my video diary. 

2/2/13: Three religious men surround me and try to save my soul. No snakes were harmed. 

2/4/13: A book recommendation about climate change: Kerry Emmanuel's What We Know about Climate Change

2/8/13: My final day: the long walk to Port Arthur, Texas.

My "How-to Walk across the Country" Series

1. How to map
2. How to organize food
3. How to pack and ship food
4. How to outfit yourself with gear


sane energy said...

What you're doing is super important. Not just to explain the enormity of this bad idea to others, but to give support and solidarity to everyone along the route who understands HOW bad an idea.

I imagine that when you are done with your walk you will edit your footage into a film. If you do, or if you want help with that, get in touch. We have just launched the "Inspiration" film series here in NYC, and we'd love to have you come vista, to talk, show clips, show a film, whatever. We're a grassroots group fighting 3 local pipelines, and the buildout of fossil fuel infrastructure and fracking, as well as tar sands, TPP, the whole spectrum of bad and evil ideas. We'll keep posting your adventure to our facebook page, keep us aware of what you're up to please.

Juanita Rice said...

Kudos to Sane Energy! The footage from the flight over the Tar Sands mining operation should be obligatory viewing to every debate, every comment, every decision concerning Transcanada's intended Keystone XL Pipeline. It's clear evidence that it's time to get off oil and we might as well start now.
(Boulder county CO, #1 "liberal" reputation, JUST approved fracking. People are definitely losing their minds.)
Thanks, Ken.

monikernc said...

i heard your interview on The Story with Dick Gordon and i am fascinated by your sense of adventure and fearlessness (all cows excluded). i share your values, ideals and concerns but come nowhere close to your level of action and reaction. but my life is changing as i write this and i want to pursue less conventional alternatives moving forward. your ventures demonstrate what is possible and though i can't eat as much granola and pop tarts as you - i will manage.
so, if you need anything, shout out, and in the meantime enjoy your trek, and keep everyone posted on your progress.

1Vikinggirl said...

Wow - there you are! I followed you van-dwelling and I am happy to see you are continuing your dreams (and mine :)
All the best,

Zabet N.C. said...


The Keystone XL is terrifying, so tremendously terrifying. I'm grateful that you are helping protest this pipeline. I also am consdiering biking the route this coming Spring, and would love to continue talking with you.

E-mail me at zabet.neucollins [at] gmail.com.

Thanks for doing this.

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Michaele said...

Hi! Just want to let you know how much I'm enjoying reading your blog. Interesting to find out about Kansas and its exemptions. Also appreciate your honesty and humility. Well, and your courage and drive ..er...walk! Thanks! I've got you bookmarked.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Texas! Let me know if you need anything!

Bobby said...

You are quite the writer! I just saw you story tonight on The Young Turks. Very captivating--having a hard time putting down my iPhone.

johnboy said...

G'day Ken an eye-opening account of people, places and pipes through the eye and "pen" of an ambulator.
A stange term? Yes, but not to one such as I...thanks for letting me tag along in my wheelchair.
Steve, Australia. (a multiple sclerosis survivor)

Anonymous said...

Ken, you are inspiring.

Susan Abbott said...

Ken, I enjoyed this book, and also learned from it. Your firsthand description of the tar sands was the first time I really understood why the pipeline will be so destructive. Now that Trump is reopening the possibility of the pipeline being built, I hope you jump back into the national dialogue and talk about what you learned on your walk, it's powerful testimony. Especially please describe for others what the tar sands area looks like, how vast it is, and what it's environmental destruction will mean. It's a lot to ask of you, but I think your advocacy against the pipeline could help!

On another note--I walked 500 miles across Spain last year, and when I read your book recently, really enjoyed your descriptions of how exhilarating it is to be outdoors day after day with a pack on your back. This year I'm hoping to walk the back roads of Vermont, where I live, from the top to the bottom of the state. Come on up and walk here, we still have open space, forests, fields, dirt roads and friendly people!