Wild ride: A 6,000-mile trek for a cause

John Davis, a conservationist, is hiking, biking, and canoeing 6,000 miles, from Florida to Quebec. Why run-ins with bears are less scary than his stop in NYC.
John Davis
John Davis on his trek

John Davis, an explorer and conservationist, makes 26.2 miles sound like a walk in the park—he’s trekking 6,000 miles up the East Coast from Florida to Quebec.

Davis, who began his journey in February, has now made it over 5,000 miles to New York with the help of the Wildlands Network, where he took a “trail break” for a week in the city.

He’s not doing it for fitness, but for a cause: the need for an “Eastern Wildway,” a connected system of wild open spaces that would help protect various species of wildlife.

“What we have now is a system of protected wildlife habitats,” says Davis. “Every one is vitally important, but they tend to be small, isolated patches. We need big, wild spaces with connections between them.”

John Davis
David in New York's Shawangunks

So he’s traveling on the route a migrating animal might—alternating between hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking (and possibly cross-country skiing in the coming months) through nature, and avoiding civilization and motor vehicles when he can.

Davis says he didn’t need to train for the physically taxing journey because of his naturally active lifestyle. But he does make sure to consume as many calories and as much protein as possible to stay fueled. (He’s a fan of peanut butter.)

While camping, he’s had about 20 encounters with predators like bears, coyotes, and venomous snakes. But they didn’t phase him.

“The only really scary experiences I’ve had were with trucks and cars,” Davis says. And a police officer who kicked him out of Central Park after he tried to camp overnight on a bench.

“I’m incompetent in cities,” he says. “I do better in the woods.” —Lisa Elaine Held

Track John’s progress, view photos and blog posts from his journey, and find out how you can help at www.wildlandsnetwork.org

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