Among all the events taking place across the country this Sunday to mark Earth Day, there will be few as remarkable as the arrival of Kirk and Cindy Sinclair in the nation's capital.
When the Sinclair's complete the last few miles of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park (C&O Trail) into Washington, D.C., it will bring them close to the end of a 5,000-mile hike that began at the Pacific Ocean at Point Reyes, Calif., almost a year ago.
Their trek is the first-ever continuous west-to-east thru-hike of the American Discovery Trail, a route connecting thousands of miles of existing trails and rail-trails, community paths and greenways.
The Sinclairs hiked across the red rock canyons of Utah, and the calm prairies of Kansas. They braved the blistering sun in Nevada and stood in awe of the snow-covered peaks in Colorado. The American Discovery Trail route passes through 15 states, 16 national forests, 14 national parks and connects some 10,000 significant historical, cultural and natural sites.
Along the way, the couple averaged 12 to 15 miles a day in the winter and 20 miles in the fall and summer. They slept in churches, parks and the homes of locals while stopping in towns, or set up camp outdoors when far from a settlement.
The Sinclairs, who call themselves "Hiking Humanitarians," are walking to raise awareness of housing, hunger and health issues in America, and to promote the importance of community, kindness and helping others.
"The common thread here is all of the acts of kindness we've found along the way, and in all sorts of forms," says Kirk Sinclair. "We want to raise expectations of the kindness of humanity and the virtues of community to address housing, health and hunger."
"We have been received well everywhere we've gone," Kirk says. "Regardless of ideology, everyone takes to the message of community, that we need to rely on each other to address community issues."
The Sinclairs plan to arrive in Washington, D.C., on Earth Day--Sunday, April 22--and complete their trek at the Atlantic shore at Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware on May 2.
The couple is eager to talk with community groups, bloggers and the media, or anyone interested in their journey. They can be reached at 860.309.3063 (cell), or through the director of the American Discovery Trail, Krista Lenzmeier, at 800.663.2387, or firstname.lastname@example.org.