Latest adventure for Ed Talone sends him through Calhoun
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By BETH ZUMWALT
Ed Talone estimates he has hiked 75,000 miles in the past 40 years. He is very well known in the world of hiking.
This past weekend, his latest adventure, to follow the Mississippi River from the mouth at the Gulf of Mexico to the mighty river’s humble beginning in Northern Minnesota, brought him to Calhoun County.
“I took my first hike when I was just eight,” Talone said.
“Talone spent one night in Calhoun at the St. Agnus Church and his second at the firehouse in Hardin. By Sunday he was at the Stagecoach Inn in Pleasant Hill.
“I walk every mile,” he said. “I don’t accept any rides and if I do have to ride, I go back and hike that section again.
While snow, ice and rain can be a detriment to good progress, Talone says a cold, pelting ice is the worst weather to walk.
Although Talone carries provisions, a tent and a sleeping bag rated to 0 degrees, he still looks for shelter along the way.
“I average about 2.5 miles per hour,” the 65-year old Maryland native said. “I try to find a church or a firehouse that will let me stay for the night in most places. The tent is fine,but not in the wind.”
Talone said he uses walking sticks for a number of reasons.
“Walking along the highway can be treacherous,” he said. “But, I also use them as protection, especially against dogs. I’ve not been bit yet.”
This was not Talone’s first trip through Calhoun as he and a friend who was nearing the end of her hiking journey walked through the lower section of the county. The two friends and her guide dog were on the trek when they were stopped in Calhoun.
“In 1999 my friend and I walked, crossed the Brussels Ferry and were on our way to the Katy Trail in Missouri. A member of Calhoun law enforcement stopped us and wanted to see our driver’s licenses. I showed him mine, but explained she didn’t have one because she was blind. I couldn’t make him understand that she didn’t have a driver’s license. He finally let us go,” said Talone.
Talone said in his 40 years of hiking there are only seven individuals who have ever made him feel threatened.
“Most people are very nice and helpful,” he said. “I had a lady in Nebraska one time stop and ask me if I wanted a ride. I told her no and she asked three times before she understood that I was going to walk every inch of my route.”
By his own estimation, Talone thinks he has visited 8,000 towns in America. He has hiked all the popular trails, the Appalachian, the Pacific West and numerous others.
“I try to go someplace I haven’t seen before,” he said. “I’ve seen parts of the Mississippi, but most of it’s new to me.”
Following the Mississippi seemed like a natural challenge.
“You’re not always walking next to it, obviously, especially in Missouri, but you get to walk along some pretty good chunks of it,” he said. “I’ve hiked just about everything in this country.”
Talone plans to follow the Mississippi up to the Quad Ciites and then cross over into Iowa for a stretch before coming back to Illinois. He hopes to reach his destination by May.
Then what’s next?
“I would like to hike around Europe some,” he said. “There is some beautiful country there.”