Footloose

A father and son from Darien strike out on foot to explore the state they call home



Father and son at the New London train station

Talk about a father-son bonding experience. Christopher Hilton, 11, and his father Chuck Hilton, 48, of Darien recently completed a 120-mile walk across the state of Connecticut. The two traveled the length of Boston Post Road from the state line in Port Chester, New York, through 25 coastal Connecticut towns, and then finished their tour in Westerly Rhode Island. While the Hiltons did burn calories and enjoy quality time together, the primary goal of their walk was to explore the many historical, natural and cultural aspects of the state they call home.

The inspiration for the trip came from a friend of Chuck’s, who a number of years ago related a story about a wonderful day of discovery she spent driving Post Road from one end of the state to another.  “I thought that was a cool idea, and it’s been something I’ve wanted to do for some time,” said Chuck, who is a founding partner at Hilton-VanderHorn Architects in Greenwich. “I’ve spent years living in this end of the state, hopping on and off the highway to destinations in neighboring communities, but I’ve never really threaded them together in a cohesive way. Plus, I had heard so much about the beauty of the coastal communities on the other end of the state, places I had little time to discover.  Walking Post Road seemed like the perfect way to explore all of this.”

Christopher, an active and curious young student at Middlesex Middle School, embraced the unusual challenge presented by his father. “This is going to be fun. We’re going to do this!” Christopher said with enthusiasm as they started out. A few hours and a couple of blisters later, the scope of what they committed to began to sink in. Fortunately, great conversations, new discoveries and determination fueled their journey.

The two traveled lightly, relying on simple basics such as good running sneakers, comfortable hiking socks, an iPhone, water, Gatorade, a few dollars and a credit card.  Except for one overnight backpack, everything else they needed was picked up along the way. “It was an amazing trip filled with conversations about history, economic realities and explanations about our many surroundings,” said Chuck. And there were important lessons learned along the way, too, particularly on topics such as the importance of good planning and perseverance.

What was the best part of the trip for Chris? “That’s easy,” he says. “Spending so much time with my dad.”

Christopher is a student at Middlesex Middle School in Darien. He enjoys tennis, baseball, cross-country running and basketball. Chuck Hilton is a founding partner at Hilton-VanderHorn, Architects in Greenwich and enjoys fishing, golf, tennis and travel.

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