Gina and I spent the better part of a day last week walking the perimeter of our new farm. We have decided to call it BeauChamp Farm at Kalien. It was a distance of almost two miles through a verdant and mature forest, across rocky streams, atop a soft moss-covered ridge, and along a stacked stone wall that serves as the northern boundary that (according to our new neighbor who has farmed the adjoining lands for over seventy-five years—and his Dad for another eighty years before that) was built by slaves before the Civil War.
It was a breathtaking hike induced by steep inclines, an impressive stand of black walnut trees, and magnificent views of the Appalachian mountains. It felt, looked and smelled like home.
For some reason, it’s always been important for me to establish a perimeter—or as my British friend Mark said in his delightful accent, “to strike all the boundaries”. This desire seems to be innate.
Mike Helbing plans to hike the perimeter of New Jersey this year, a distance of about 500 miles. In 2009, Loreen Niewenhuis walked completely around Lake Michigan. Her book chronicles that journey, a 1,000-mile walk around the world’s fifth-largest lake.
Another man named Randy—Randy Montgomery—is currently on a quest to walk the perimeter of the United States. That is a journey of 14,000 miles. Walking around the U.S. was something Montgomery said he knew he had to do. “I wasn’t afraid to walk. I was afraid of sitting in a log truck for the next five years,” he said. “I’m not afraid of where I’m going.”
These people are accomplishing what many of us have only daydreamed about.
I love the Appalachian Mountains and walking the perimeter of Kalien was a joyful reacquainting myself with this land of my childhood—to encircle it on foot, to feel it in my muscles and bones, to really see it with my mind’s eye. To kindle a vision of the mystery of the future. And to start a fire and light a toast to the past.
I hope you learn more about this land (about me—and most importantly, about yourself) as you read my letters. I certainly learned a lot while writing this letter—not to mention, while walking the perimeter itself.
And I hope these words inspire you to take on an adventure of your own.