Walk completed August 28, 2011

Monday, April 21, 2014

King Arthur's Plea

Shortly after Christmas last year I received a phone call from King Arthur.

“Lost-a-lot,” said the King, “I once again need your help.  Merlin is on a one-year sabbatical, so you’re the only one I can look to.  I do hope you’ll assist.”

“I am honored, My Lord.  What’s up?”

“The rivers.  The rivers are up.  It seems that Merlin left his apprentice to watch over the castle while he is gone.  The apprentice was practicing his spells, and made a mistake.  He unleashed torrential rains and my whole kingdom is flooded.  He hasn’t been able to undo the spell.  I immediately thought of you, because anyone who can develop the perfect PB&J sandwich can surely handle this problem.”

“I’ll do my best, Art, but it may take some time.  You realize, of course, that the perfect PB&J sandwich was years in development.  Overcoming errant wizardry is much easier, but it still may take me six months or more.  I’ll need to study maps, terrain, the water distribution system, the … .”

“Start immediately,” interrupted King Arthur.  “Take as much time as you need.  But please do solve the problem.”

“As it happens,” I responded, “I intend to come to England next summer.  I’ll inspect your water distribution system while I’m there.  In the meantime, I’ll commence my studies.  We’ll get the problem solved – just like I dealt with all the rain during my 1200 mile summer.”

“One other thing,” whispered Art.  “You must keep all of this confidential.  If my subjects were to learn you were coming back to England they might panic.”

“No problem, Art. Remember, I’m a highly-trained lawyer and confidence is my stock in trade.  Just ask my friend, Professor Ron.  Of course, my presence in England can’t be hidden – what with my being a celebrity and all – but I’ll come up with a subterfuge to cover the real purpose of my visit.  Nobody will ever know that I’ve been hired by the Crown to avert disaster.”

With a sigh of relief, King Arthur bade me goodbye, confident that I will preserve both his realm and his secret.

Not only am I a highly trustworthy lawyer, but I am dedicated to preserving history.  Nixon had his tapes; I have my blog.  How better to preserve history than to post it on my blog?  Since nobody reads this blog anymore, King Arthur’s confidential request is preserved forever.  The strategic ploy I’ve created to cover up my real purpose is set forth in my new blog, My Riparian Summer, located at http://MyRiparianSummer.blogspot.com.  Nobody will ever know.

© 2014  Ken Klug

Sunday, April 22, 2012

MY 1200 MILE SUMMER is now a book!!

Originally published only for close family and friends whose criticism would be tempered by mercy, My 1200 Mile Summer is now available in book form to the unsuspecting public. Offered at an exorbitant price without any royalty sought by the author, My 1200 Mile Summer contains all blog postings arranged in easy-reading chronological order, with only minimal editing of content. The beautifully bound 180-page book also includes separate appendices of readers’ comments and acknowledgements.

Here’s what others have to say about My 1200 Mile Summer:
  • “Sensational!! A Titanic experience!!” – Harold O. Riviera, The New York Tides Book Review
  • “Gripping! More fun than flying the Hindenburg!!” – The Manchester Gradian
  • “A real page-burner.” – The San Francisco Exterminer
  • “Outstandingly sophomoric!” – The Boston Grobe
  • “The pinnacle of responsible writing.” – Rufus Mudrock, The Doily Sun
  • “Thought provoking. You’ll wonder why you wasted your money.” – The Los Angeles Tribune
SPECIAL NOTICE TO TRAILWALKERS: If your image appears on the blog, you may not find it in the book. Due to space limitations, many of the images appearing in the original blog have been omitted.

Preview the entire book or order it by clicking Book Preview in the sidebar.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. Order within the next 365 days and use the special code word “SUCKER”, and we’ll double the offer. That’s right, you can select two books for only twice the price. A large shipping charge will be added to your order.

Offer valid only in the Western World, parts of the Middle East, and selected countries of Asia, Africa and Oceania. Void where prohibited by common sense. Not available in bookstores or Antarctica.

© 2012 Ken Klug

Friday, December 16, 2011


Three and a half months have elapsed since my return home, and I’ve been reflecting on all that happened during my 1200 mile summer. The walk was truly one of life’s great experiences. Only someone who has actually walked a great distance over a long period of time can appreciate the physical and mental challenges encountered with each new footstep. A tourist driving a car is comfortably insulated within the car’s familiar interior even if traveling to new places. Not so the walker, who has no retreat into the security of a familiar environment.

For the walker, every second of every day yields a new, unfiltered experience. Except for seeing a few familiar faces along the trail as walkers’ paces ebb and flow during the day, and except for special events like my reunions with Roger and Pauline or with Bob and Pam several weeks after we first met, the solo walker deals with each scene, each encounter, each challenge, anew.

Those of you who followed my blog know that for me, making new acquaintances was the highlight of every day, and I treasured every new encounter. Only three times in 1200 miles over three months did I encounter anyone who I considered potentially unsafe. I didn’t write about them, of course, and perhaps my security senses were raised unnecessarily, but one learns never to leave home without those senses.

Nor did I write about one of my most delightful encounters – but for a very different reason. On the very last day of my 1200 mile summer, I was in the Sea View Hotel in John O’Groats finalizing arrangements for my return to Heathrow, when a wind-blown lady with a backpack larger than herself walked into the hotel’s reception area, dripping wet from rain. I knew instantly that I was in the presence of greatness. Charlie Lee was at that very moment completing her incredible five-month, two thousand mile solo walk of Britain’s eight points. I had been following her humorous mis-adventures on and off since April as she related them in her delightful blog, and I was more awestruck by her presence than if I had encountered Queen Elizabeth, herself. Summoning all of my boyish courage and assuming my characteristic lost puppy look, I timidly invited her to join me for dinner, and was honored that she accepted.

Of course, I couldn’t mention any of this in that day’s posting, because Charlie was much more conscious of her own security than I was of mine. (Her own blog postings were always delayed a week or two so that potential stalkers wouldn’t know her location at any given time. I wasn’t as concerned about potential stalkers as I was about whether they would buy me a beer.) But it certainly wouldn’t do for me to have disclosed her location in that day’s posting.

Nor can I post the picture of Charlie and me in the restaurant, because she hasn’t posted her picture on her own blog – again, presumably for security reasons. Even if that weren’t a concern, I wouldn’t post the picture anyway because it shows a lovely young lady, positively glowing from her 2,000 mile achievement, standing next to a bedraggled old man weighing 25 fewer pounds than he did at Land’s End, and looking totally exhausted from 1200 miles and nearly as many beers. No, it’s not a pretty image, but I’ll always remember having had my picture taken with one of my idols.

The following day the rain let up, but strong, cold winds continued to blow. No matter, because I was finished walking. I took the bus from John O’Groats to Inverness, where I caught a train to Edinburgh. After a relaxing day with my friend Ann of the Tartan, I flew to London.

My mingling with celebrities continued in London when I had dinner with Mark Moxon and his wife, Peta. Every End to Ender knows Mark Moxon as the webmaster of the premier website for walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Mark is also a world renowned travel writer, and I was delighted to meet him in person.

My third personal idol is Ernest Shackleton, the polar explorer of Endurance fame. “The Boss” (as Shackleton’s crew referred to him) and I have a lot in common. Several years ago I had the good fortune to retrace his footsteps on South Georgia, the Antarctic island he crossed in 1916 to rescue his men who were marooned on Elephant Island. In 1909, Shackleton had failed in his first attempt to reach the South Pole, turning around barely 95 miles from the goal, but still he had trekked more than 1200 miles across Antarctica. I, too, did not quite reach John O’Groats on my walk, but I’m sure Shackleton would understand. Yes, we have a lot in common.

The James Caird
Shackle-ton attended Dulwich College, a boy’s school near London. Mark Moxon gave me a quick lesson on using London’s underground and train system, and on my final day in London I made my way to Dulwich College. There, the James Caird, the lifeboat in which Shackleton sailed from Elephant Island to South Georgia on his incredible journey, is on display. The James Caird is encircled by a small railing designed to protect it from curious onlookers. I’m not exactly proud of what I did next, but I actually reached over the railing and ran my hand along the James Caird’s bow. I’m sure Shackleton would have done so too.

I flew home the following day. I continue to hike in Yosemite and Utah. I’ve resumed my role as a highly trained lawyer, although in a semi-retired mode. Semi-retirement has given me the time to prepare a slide show of my End to End walk and to publish a book entitled (what else?) My 1200 Mile Summer. If I can get the required permission to include the copyrighted music which accompanies the slides, I’ll add the slide show to my blog. The book will soon be available for purchase at Blurb.com, but I can’t imagine why anybody would buy it since it merely repeats the postings and images from the blog, which can be accessed for free.

I’ve already presented the slide show to several groups; invariably, the audience asks about my next adventure. I don’t yet know, but I haven’t ruled out the possibility of walking from John O’Groats to Land’s End. After all, I did fail to walk 19 of the final 20 miles of LEJOG, and it would only be right to try again. I think Shackleton would make a second attempt. And we DO have a lot in common.

© 2011 Ken Klug

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day 89 – Watten to John O’Groats, 0 miles

Sometimes things don’t go as planned. I had planned on not mentioning the weather again, but I’m making an exception. I had also planned on walking to JOG today, but that didn’t work out either. Yesterday’s walk to Watten was in very high winds, but it was dry. It rained and blew heavily last night, and continued this morning. Here’s today’s official weather warning:

     Issued at - 27 Aug 2011, 11:28
     Valid from - 28 Aug 2011, 00:00
     Valid to - 28 Aug 2011, 23:59

     A spell of wet and unseasonably windy weather is expected during Sunday.
     Persistent rain, heavy at times, will be accompanied by strong to gale force winds with a risk of severe gales in the most exposed areas.
     The public should be aware of the risk of localised flooding

What the forecast doesn’t report is the unseasonably cold temperature which accompanied the gale force wind and rain. With no refuge between Watten and JOG, I concluded that attempting to walk 20 miles in those conditions would be foolhardy. The risk of hypothermia was far too great.

I arranged for a ride from Watten to the Sea View Hotel in JOG. We drove along the same route I was to have walked. At one point, a downed tree partially blocked the road, but we were able to navigate around it. The road was heavily flooded in at least a half dozen places. Small Loch Watten had white caps and 18 inch waves.

Upon arrival at the Sea View Hotel, I left my pack and walked the ½ mile to the road end where the tourist shops and Orkney Ferry pier are located. That short walk was very difficult. The ferry was still berthed at the pier – today’s crossing had been cancelled due to the high winds and rough sea.

I browsed through the shops, took a few pictures, and had a cappuccino at the coffee bar. I then walked back to the Sea View, fighting the wind and rain all the way. I was very cold when I reached the hotel again. I could not have walked from Watten today.

Being a highly-trained mountaineer, I’ve developed a sense of when to abort a climb and abandon the summit. That sense came in handy today. I don’t want to be overly dramatic and say that my good judgment saved my life, but it certainly saved me the embarrassment of having to be rescued due to a bad decision.

Some readers may wonder whether I’m disappointed about not “completing” the walk. I’m not disappointed at all. One of the world’s top mountain guides with whom I’ve climbed commented to me that a climber never regrets aborting a summit attempt due to weather. You regret failing to abort the summit when you should do so. I have no regrets.

Flowering heather
Although the official description of this storm is “unseasonable” the storm shows that the seasons are changing. Summer is coming to a close in the Highlands of Scotland. Already there is an autumn crispness in the morning air this far north. Tree leaves are yellowing, and the mountain heather is nearing full autumn bloom  

The pink blossoms that my pictures have captured since June are now reaching their apex, confirming summer’s final days.

Just as nature heralds the end of summer in Scotland, my arrival at John O’Groats tolls the end of my 1200 mile summer. For the past year and a half, I have shared my anticipation, disappointments, challenges, joys and sorrow. We have shared new friendships, and re-bonded with old ones. I have tried not to dwell on the hardships, suffering and occasional exhaustion, because we all have enough negatives in our daily lives – but they were surely present more often than I like to admit.

The sun will rise again tomorrow here in Scotland, but my blog will not. My 1200 mile summer is finished, and it’s time to move on.

Thank you for following and supporting me along the way. Good-bye for now.

Land's End

John O'Groats

The End

© 2011 Ken Klug

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 88 – Lybster to Watten, 14 miles

Although the entire route today was on tarmac road, less than ¼ mile was on the busy A9. The balance was on a minor road through Lybster, and then a minor road that runs due north from the A9 to Watten. Once on the minor roads, I didn’t see more than a dozen cars – much more relaxing than walking along the busy A9.

Heather covered hillside
 The route to Watten left the sea and headed inland across the wind-swept moors. I bypassed a few forestry commission plantation forests, but most of the time I was surrounded by heather, grasses and sheep. The heather is flowering, casting the hillsides with a dull purple. The flowers will open in the sunshine and the colors will brighten considerably. But not today.

Aside from a few cars, I was passed by a group of three cyclists finishing their LEJOG. They were getting near to their finish line and chose not to stop, thus depriving themselves of everlasting immortality from appearing in this blog. Perhaps they have their own blog, but they can’t boast a readership as elite as this one.

If all goes as planned, I’ll arrive in John O’Groats tomorrow. How can I possibly be there already?

© 2011 Ken Klug

Friday, August 26, 2011

Day 87 – Friday, August 26, 2011, Dunbeath to Lybster, 6 miles

Today was another roadwalking day, but it was a short day I added to lessen the length of tomorrow’s walk, and to prevent me from arriving in JOG a day too early. Since the distance was short, I didn’t have time to get bored, and about the time boredom was ready to kick in, I met three End to Enders.

John and Stewart
John and Stewart are cycling, and left JOG this morning. They’ve already cycled across the U.S., and thought it time to do so in their own country. I hope they have as much fun as I’ve had.

Like me, Olishar is walking the length of Britain. He started on the south coast some 54 days ago, whizzed past Land’s End and will reach JOG tomorrow. He’s camping, and covers about 25 miles a day. He and I walked together and chatted for a short time, but I couldn’t keep up with him. Well, hey, he’s less than half my age. When I was his age I could out-hike people twice my age. I still can.

 I arrived in Lybster around noon, dropped my pack at the hotel and walked down to the harbour for a crab sandwich. I’m still not talking about the weather, but my pictures came out well, don’t you think?

Lybster harbour


Lybster lighthouse

George, Lost-a-lot, and Roy
The 3 Must-have-beers
Before dinner, I went to the hotel's pub where I met George and Roy.  George used to be a commercial fisherman in Lybster.  When he found out I had walked all the way from Land’s End, he insisted on buying me a drink.  Roy is formerly from England, but lives in Scotland now.  I enjoyed meeting both of them, and when I told them I needed a picture for my blog, George referred to us as the Three Must-have-beers.  My goodness -- have I become that transparent?  It's time to return home.

 © 2011 Ken Klug

Day 86 – Thursday, August 25, 2011, Helmsdale to Dunbeath – 16 miles

I knew today was going to be a boring day of roadwalking along the busy A9. My expectations were fully met. For some reason the traffic today was far heavier than yesterday – perhaps the heavy traffic is in the morning, and I missed it by walking on the beach yesterday. There was no beach today – the sea came right up to the vertical cliffs, so the A9 was the only option.

The scenery from the road was still pretty – when I had a chance to look at it. Most of the time I was busy watching the vehicles headed in my direction. I tried to entertain myself by playing a license plate game, but the vehicles whizzed by so fast that I couldn’t read the plates. Finally, I decided to just pay attention to the road signs – it’s amazing how helpful they can be even for walkers.

The first sign I noticed reminded me that I had drunk more than my usual coffee this morning. The A9 is a long road in a remote area, and the pee post was welcome.  Another pee post appeared about a mile later. This was too soon, but OK, I gave what I had. When the third sign appeared, I was flabbergasted, until I realized that the blue color indicated convenience, not command.

Some signs weren’t very helpful, like the one telling me to give way. What else would you do when two tons of metal are hurtling towards you?

This sign was especially motivating. There’s nothing like the promise of a bottle at the end of the day to keep a walker moving. Funny, though, I would have expected another pee post afterwards, but there were none.

© 2011 Ken Klug