by Jonathan Weaver
It’s a long trek on foot for Ed Talone to get to Pittsburgh, but he knew he wanted to ‘kill time’ enjoying Kittanning and Ford City.
“I like to look around old downtowns, even if I’m not going to get anything. I like to see the old buildings,” Talone said.
A cross-country hiker who estimated he has hiked about 60,000 miles during the past 30 years, the Silver Spring, Maryland resident left from Erie along the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail at the beginning of June and arrived in Kittanning yesterday afternoon. He awoke Tuesday near Mile Post No. 59 north of Hook Station.
Talone recalled the generosity of a local.
“I got to my campsite at like 6PM (Monday night) – a picnic table that was shaded. I’m just sitting there reading and a bicyclist went by. He said “Do you need anything?” and I asked “How soon do you hit water?” He said there was nothing before Kittanning, but he left me a gallon of water by mile post No. 54.
“That kind of thing really helps – it was nice of the guy to do that.”
Talone, 56, also hiked through Kittanning in May 1994 while hiking the North Country Trail, but in that case, he was hiking north toward Oil City.
“I do a lot of long walks. I’ve walked across the country; I’ve walked across Canada,” Talone said. “The walking part is easy – I’m blessed with good health.”
While not on a set schedule, Talone camped outside Ford City last night for about six hours of sleep before leaving at daybreak this morning to hike toward Freeport. He plans to camp along the Freeport-to-Butler Trail tonight.
“Most nights an hour before dark I have no idea where I’m going to stop,” Talone said. “It doesn’t bother me, especially when it’s this warm. (Monday) night, I didn’t get into a tent `til 9:30PM.”
With spare clothes, a tent and sleeping bag on his back, Talone was the last customer of the day at Dizzy Lizzy’s along Market Street and also shopped for salami and cheese at Kevin’s Meats. He also made his way over to the Armstrong County Tourist Bureau where he received a T-shirt from Tourist Bureau Director Kevin Andrews.
“It was really interesting to hear (Talone’s) story – these are the people that, as a tourism director, I love to see here. That’s what it’s all about – the relationship you’re building with these people,” Andrews said. “Just the experience he’s having going through Armstrong County, we wanted to make sure it was a good one.”
Talone, a retired investor, updates more than a hundred people across the country via an e-mail blast every few days – typed at local libraries.
Before the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail trek, Talone hiked the Erie Canal from Albany, New York to Buffalo – a distance of 380 miles.