When Meriwether Lewis and William Clark first walked through Kansas on their surveying journey through the Louisiana Purchase, they weren't likely thinking about fitness.
They probably weren't dressed in bright yellow vests and hats either.
But for two Overland Park, Kan., men also going by the initials L and C who walked through Leavenworth Friday, the simple act of walking in a scenic environment can have serious health benefits.
It's one reason that Overland Park Convention and Visitors Bureau President Jerry Cook and David Lindstrom, a former Kansas City Chiefs player who now serves on the Johnson County Commission, are walking about 1,220 miles in 10 months across Kansas. Though both had taken walking trips before, the current task began as what initially seemed like a one-off remark.
“We we're having lunch and David said 'I don't know that anyone has walked every byway in the state of Kansas,'” Cook said.
From there grew the challenge, he said.
“We wanted to see if we could do it,” Cook said.
There are 11 such byways in the state, including two that include parts of Leavenworth County – the Glacial Hills Scenic Byway that runs from Leavenworth north up U.S. Highway 73 and the Frontier Military Scenic Byway, which begins here and makes its way south through Interstate 435 and U.S. Highway 69 to Fort Scott, Kan.
All of the state's byways are established in honor of and named for important geological or historical events tied to them. Keeping a pace of about 20 miles a day, the pair have walked eight of the byways already, including those named for the Chisholm Trail, Route 66 and part of the Santa Fe Trail Byway.
“There's been some perfect weather and some not so perfect weather,” Lindstrom said.
They're also raising funds for research on immunodeficiency disease scleroderma and Alzheimer's disease, promoting walking as a source for “health, wellness and happiness”
and promoting tourism in the state of Kansas.
They keep a running journal of sorts documenting their journeys at www.walkingwithlandc.com. It's proven popular so far, Cook said.
“We have people from 46 different countries, 6,000 people following us all over the world,” he said.
The culmination of the trip will take L and C across the 457-mile length of the Santa Fe Trail Byway, from bustling Johnson County to the tiny Johnson City, Kan., on the Colorado border.
Hopefully, Cook said their example leads others to discover some of the other scenic and historic byways in Kansas or to just get out somewhere.
“Get outside and go for a walk every once in a while,” he said. “Get in the habit.”