MADAWASKA, Maine — A 69-year-old Waterville man just landed in Madawaska, completing his three-year-long project of walking all four corners of Maine — a total of 660 miles.
Madawaska marks one of the four corners of the United States along with San Ysidro, California; Blaine, Washington; and Key West, Florida. Visiting all of them is a popular motorcyclist quest, and those who reach each corner find a designated park or landmark that lets them know they have succeeded.
Madawaska also marks one of the four corners of Maine, along with Lubec Post Office, Kittery Trading Post and Grafton Notch State Park. Mainly motorcyclists and one bicyclist have visited them, but Roger York of Waterville wanted to do something different. So he decided to be the first person to walk the route and arrived at Four Corners Park in Madawaska at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Madawaska’s Four Corners Park was established in 2008 after founder Joe LaChance and his wife completed the four corners tour around the United States via motorcycle. LaChance thought building the park would help bring tourism into Madawaska and northern Maine, according to the park’s website.
York completed his tour of the four corners of the United States on motorcycle in 2013, where he first became familiar with Madawaska’s Four Corners Park. He then wanted to be the first person to finish the four corners of Maine challenge on a motorized scooter in 2017, which he did.
“As I read down the list of people who had finished that year, I saw someone that had done it on a bicycle,” York said. “I thought, ‘Wow. I want to do something different. I think I could be the first to walk the four corners after I retire.’”
York took off from Grafton Notch State Park in June 2019 shortly after he retired and got as far as Ellsworth that year, he said. He intended to finish the walk in 2020, but as soon as the pandemic hit, his plans had to be adjusted.
At the end of each day of walking, someone would pick him up and drive him to a hotel or other location for the night and then take him back the next day where he left off so he could resume walking. During the height of the pandemic, that responsibility fell on the shoulders of his wife, Laurel.
On average, York said he would walk between 11 and 14 miles in a day, though his longest trek was from South Portland to Yarmouth at roughly 18-20 miles.
“I have a good friend, Patrick, who stayed close by me in his car for a few days this year while I was walking [the] 50 to 60 miles on Route 1 through some very isolated areas of Washington and Aroostook counties,” York said.
The support he received didn’t end there. People who were following his trek on his website left him notes of encouragement, and some along the road offered him cold drinks, a meal, money or a beer at the end of the day.
York recorded his progress through a Garmin satellite tracker on his sleeve, which allowed all those watching him from his website to see where he was. Other special gear York used included a good pair of hiking boots, and a backpack prepped with water, snacks, a rain slicker, a change or two of clothes and a small first aid kit.
York completed the last four miles of his journey into Madawaska along Route 1 on Saturday with his wife, son and daughter-in-law in tow, but said there may be some more adventures on the way.
“I enjoy walking and everybody tells me to keep moving,” York said. “I’m considering walking the length of Route 202 in Maine or finishing Route 3 — part of Route 3 has already been included along Route 1 — I also want to finish walking Route 1 from Madawaska to Fort Kent.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an error. York used a Garmin tracker.