In September, hiker David Madden ’03 strapped on his backpack in New Brunswick, Canada, and began what he hopes will be a 3,000-mile trek, ending in the Florida Keys sometime in February. Madden, who passed through Princeton Oct. 13, said that his plans have elicited one of two responses from the people he’s met on the trails and roadways he’s traveled: “Wow, that’s terrific,” or “You’ve got to be out of your mind.”
Madden, for the record, places himself in the first camp. Since graduation, he has won hundreds of thousands of dollars on Jeopardy!, earned a master’s degree in international relations, compiled a catalogue of works by artist Richard Anuszkiewicz, and eluded the Monday-through-Friday work week. That likely will change next year - Madden plans to become a teacher - so he decided to use this year to pursue a dream he’s had since he first set foot on the Appalachian Trail as an 8-year-old.
In northern Maine, near the start of his journey, Madden hiked mostly on the Appalachian Trail, but after walking about 98 miles of a 100-mile stretch in complete solitude, he decided to give roadside hiking a try. The move helped him meet people throughout New England and make progress toward the hike’s other goal, raising money for Fisher House, a charity that builds and manages temporary residences near military hospitals for the families of wounded veterans. The group’s mission resonated with Madden, whose former roommate, Army 1st Lt. Alex Wilson ’03, was wounded in Iraq earlier this year. So far, Madden has raised about $3,000 dollars. He’s hoping to reach $20,000.
On country roads, or even on city streets, Madden’s hike tends to be a lonely journey, so he has been listening to CD-based courses on headphones, covering the Civil War, Bach, and philosophers. His overnight accommodations range from tents to guestrooms and sofas offered by relatives and complete strangers who post offers on the Web site couchsurfing.com. (“I admit it does sound a little sketchy when you put it like that,” Madden said, “but it’s been good so far.”)
For friends and family members tracking his trip, Madden has been keeping a blog at usahiker.blogspot.com, updating his progress and posting photos. In Princeton, roughly a third of the way to Florida, Madden remained energetic and excited about the road ahead. “It’s good exercise, it’s a great way to see the country, see old friends, meet new friends,” he said. “And there’s definitely a goal to this - it’s not aimless wandering.” Photo by Frank Wojciechowski.
We have a winner
Ross Liemer ’08 correctly identified all four photos in the Oct. 10 blog quiz and earned a vintage PAW poster. The answers, for those of you keeping score at home:
1. Princeton Stadium; 2. Chancellor Green; 3. Bloomberg Hall; and 4. McCosh 50.
The house that Princeton built
For about 20 students at Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto, Calif., Princeton already is part of their daily lives. The students live in Princeton House, one of the eight wings of a new dormitory that opened this fall. Each wing will be named after a college and funded by alumni from the school.
Eastside provides housing and a rigorous college-prep curriculum to children from low-income or minority backgrounds. Princeton alumna Jennifer Wythes Vettel ’86, a former teacher who earned her master’s degree with Eastside principal and founder Chris Bishchof, led the fundraising campaign for Princeton House, and last spring, President Tilghman spoke at the dormitory’s dedication. Tilghman is pictured at right with, from left, Wythes Vettel, Paul Wythes ’55, Bishchof, Linda Knoll, and Marcia Wythes. Photo courtesy of Liz Gaither.
Students from the Princeton Bhangra dance troupe perform at the Mela festival outside Robertson Hall Oct. 13. The festival, sponsored by the South Asian
Students Association, celebrated South Asian culture and cuisine with live music, dance performances, henna artists, and a fashion show. Photo by Frank Wojciechowski.