Man begins walk of Texas perimeter

By BY J.R. ORTEGA - JRORTEGA@VICAD.COM
Sept. 5, 2009 at 4:05 a.m.

PORT LAVACA - S. Matt Read squinted his eyes in reaction to the 100-degree Texas sun as he sat on a stoop near the Bayfront Peninsula on Saturday.

It's something he must get used to if he wants to hike the Texas perimeter in a year's timeframe.

The 32-year-old Corpus Christi native started the first leg of his hike on Aug. 28 in his hometown and plans to go counter-clockwise along the Texas border.

Read's interest in writing and hiking makes his mission tracing an invisible border personal.

But his interest is showing people from different areas that a painted portrait of a certain region makes it public.

"It's hard to say what will come of this," said the 1999 University of Texas at Austin graduate. "I hope it's something positive."

Read wants to meet different people and see different areas.

With his degree in English, Read hopes to write a book about his venture.

Already, 30 state newspapers have agreed to run his syndicated column chronicling his journey.

With a modest-sized backpack in tow, Read arrived in Port Lavaca on Friday and plans to head up to his next big stop: Galveston.

The backpack is light, holding only a blanket, a change of clothes, a map, snacks, an umbrella and a first aid kit. He also has a cell phone and enough money to see him through the first couple of stops on his trip.

Read decided to take Saturday off because of pain in his left foot, he said.

"I think I was just a little aggressive with my hiking," Read said, rubbing his beaten foot.

Armed with shorts, a T-shirt, flip-flops and brown straw hat, Read's tanned skin is protected little by the sun.

He has slept on the side of the road, as a camper in an RV park and he has even met a family in Port Lavaca that is allowing him to stay the night before he continues his trip.

Read has seen a pattern in the first nine days of his adventure, he said.

On average, he will begin his day at 6 a.m. and travel anywhere from 10 to 15 miles, he said.

The more miles he can do before the sun comes up, the easier the day will be, he said.

Before embarking on his daily tread, Read gulps down two or three liters of water.

He takes a break every two hours for anywhere between five minutes to an hour.

Read has already observed some interesting things along the way, he said.

"Because I'm on foot and because I look out of place, I've been stopped by law enforcement in some instances," he said.

During Read's visit to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge, he encountered an alligator that spanned the width of the path he was walking on.

Read simply took a picture, stepped back, and waited for the alligator to make its way through, he said.

He tries to hike with a destination in mind.

So far, Read has gone through Ingleside, Rockport, Fulton, Goose Island State Park, Austwell, Tivoli and Seadrift.

Read has also had his parents meet him at a couple of his stops so they could have a family lunch, he said.

"They're supportive of me, though they would prefer I chose a more traditional lifestyle," he said.

Read said he anticipates getting to Big Bend National Park.

Even then, he wants his trek across Texas to be spontaneous.

"If everything was perfectly planned out, I'd see no real reason to get excited about it or have no real motivation to do it."


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