When retired Army veteran Harold Buchanan was planning to do something special for his 50th birthday, he decided to test both his endurance and fortitude.
The 1989 Chino High graduate decided to walk most of the distance between Lincoln City, Oregon to his parents’ house in Chino Hills, a two-month journey that began April 20 and ended June 11. Mr. Buchanan turned 50 on July 1.
“I left on my trip with a 54-pound pack,” Mr. Buchanan said. “I had just a few changes of clothes, six pairs of socks and underwear, sleeping bag, hammock, poncho, poncho liner, rain jacket, collapsible shovel, first aid kit, food and extra straps mostly all packed in various waterproof bags or ziplocs.”
He walked six to nine miles per day, depending on the location where he wanted to spend the night, while other days he walked between 16 and 23 miles to find a safe place to set up his hammock. Several of his friends assisted in the trek, allowing him to stay a night in their house.
After walking 252 miles, Mr. Buchanan’s wife Stephanie picked him up in Mckinleyville, California, about 10 miles south of Eureka, and drove him to San Francisco.
“After a three-day vacation from the road, I was dropped off in Pacific Grove to begin my second phase of the trip,” Mr. Buchanan said.
He walked another 249 miles with the 101 Freeway as his guide, stopping in Big Sur, Cambria, Morrow Bay, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Guadalupe, Casmalia, Vander Space Force Base, Lompoc, and arriving in Santa Barbara on June 8. He then took buses from Santa Barbara to Claremont, arriving at his parents’ house on June 11.
“I slept in my hammock 33 nights, three nights in friend’s houses, 15 nights in hotel rooms,” Mr. Buchanan said. “I generally stayed in hotel rooms one or two days in places where I wanted to spend more than one night in a larger city and do laundry and take showers.”
He never stayed at a campground.
“I generally stayed on the side of the road, national forests, state forests, and unmarked areas, some near the rail,” he said.
Mr. Buchanan, who with his family moved to the Los Serranos area of Chino Hills in 1974, attended Los Serranos Elementary School and a fundamental school in Chino before graduating from Chino High.
He attended Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut and Cal Poly Pomona, graduating with a degree in 1995.
His 24-year Army career ended with his 2015 retirement, the same year he and his wife moved to Salem, Oregon to be closer to her family.
Mr. Buchanan began walking for fitness in April 2020 when COVID-19 forced his gym to close.
He decided a walking trip along the Oregon and California coastlines would be a good adventure.
His training intensified, and by April, he was ready.
“I started small with two- to three-mile walks, and over the summer was up to 15 to 18 miles,” Mr. Buchanan said. “Walking those distances gives a person plenty of time to think. One topic I thought of was going on a more fulfilling adventure while walking instead of just going in circles.”