"Preparations were minimal, and I had nothing to prove except that this could be done."

A young British Merchant Marine dreams of a global land journey that would someday be enshrined in the record books. With a vivid imagination and not nearly enough money, author Meegan set out in 1977 in his mid-twenties to walk from Patagonia to Prudhoe Bay. His book, originally handwritten, describes the journey in daily detail. He and his Japanese girlfriend Yoshiko planned to start the trek together (though Yoshiko later confessed she thought the plan was to travel by bus). They towed along two handcrafted rucksacks on wheels, some camping gear, basic food, and a few maps. Their timeline, which took weather and hardship conditions into consideration, was patterned somewhat on the earlier adventures of Sebastian Snow (The Rucksack Man) who walked the length of South America in twenty months. Meegan’s journey to Alaska would take 2,425 days, covering more than 19,000 miles.

Meegan’s expedition called into play many occasions of extraordinary good luck and beautiful natural wonders to behold, along with some almost crippling hardships that stalled but did not deter the couple for long. When Yoshiko became pregnant, the trek was halted in Argentina for complicated marriage license arrangements and a joyful wedding. She returned to Japan, able to meet up with her husband several times over the coming years of his absence. Her loyal support and loving, often amusing letters sustained him emotionally. Meegan pressed on alone.

The author's reminiscences are offered in a commendably modest and literate style. He suffered many serious health problems due to changes in climate and nutrition. He candidly records once sleeping in a pigsty, once in a ditch, and once in a chicken coop. His book chronicles finding ways to communicate with various indigenous populations in order to survive among them, passing through Nicaragua in the aftermath of the revolution when being seen as an English speaking foreigner could be life-threatening, and, in the US, heading north and east through Washington, DC and becoming a focus for articles in People, The New York Times and The Washington Post that garnered funding for the remainder of his journey. He even met with President Jimmy Carter. He then went west across Canada and north to Alaska.

Meegan’s book is a joy to read for the active or armchair traveler. He never hitched rides or avoided roads in favor of shortcuts. He spoke very little Spanish and no indigenous languages but still managed to make his needs known, often cultivating deep cross-cultural friendships. He sometimes went days without solid food and dangerously long stretches without water, enduring some of the coldest, wettest, hottest, and driest weather conditions possible. He recalls his reluctance at the end of his travels to abandon the road—“my good friend and harsh taskmaster.” Briefly, as he was taking the last few steps, he madly considered turning back, not completing the journey, simply so it would never have to be over.

Meegan’s remarkable accomplishment won him a fellowship in the Royal Geographical Society and world records including the most degrees of latitude ever covered on foot, the longest unbroken march of all time, and the first and only crossing of the entire western hemisphere. His stunningly detailed recollections and a few well-chosen photos give a unique look at remote parts of the world, exotic peoples, and unforgettable scenery. He describes it all with intelligence, humor, and bravado, offering up a tale of a man whose record of daring adventure will almost certainly never be broken.

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