Local man walking to Georgia to support wounded soldiers

Del Mar resident John Cote left on April 1 to take a walk, a four-month walk to be exact.

Cote is making a Walk for Warriors to support service members wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq. He will cover approximately 2,140 miles, starting at the Naval Weapons Station in Fallbrook and ending at Fort Benning in Georgia. He expects to walk alone for 107 days and arrive in Georgia on July 16.

Cote will walk through the wildflowers in the Anza-Borrego Desert, through Arizona, New Mexico, 41 “long, bleak” days through Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, where he hopes to drop a fishing line into a few creeks and rivers. Then he’ll cross Alabama and make his way into Georgia.

The walk is a way to raise awareness about wounded soldiers and raise funds for the Fisher House Foundation, an organization that houses families of wounded soldiers for free near military hospitals across the U.S.

Cote learned about Fisher House five years ago and said he thinks their work is “unbelievable.” His resolve to support the troops is even stronger now that his son is a second Lieutenant in the Army and could be in Afghanistan next year.

“There is simply not enough awareness about what sacrifices are being made on behalf of the American people by the military,” said Cote, a Del Mar resident who has been a real estate broker in Rancho Santa Fe for 21 years.

Cote, who is not married, grew up in the Vietnam era and remembers how poorly wounded veterans were treated. He said he doesn’t want to see that happen to the men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“It’s a different kind of war,” Cote said. “There are no front lines and everyone is at risk of being involved.”

Cote has been training for the last seven months to prepare for his cross-country trek. “Physically, I’m as ready as I can be,” Cote said.

He’s up at 4 a.m. and walks 20 miles before 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., the same plan he will use on the road, giving him the rest of the day to recuperate.

To donate or follow Cote’s journey, visit


Blisters? Not Cote.

“My feet are blister-proof. They’re like leather,” said Cote, who wears his hiking boots everywhere to break them in, even when doing property showings for potential clients.

He decided to leave on April 1 with hopes of missing the blazing heat in the southwest.

Cote reviewed his plans with Caltrans staff members and will stay off busy interstates, keeping mainly to small country roads.

He plans to bring all of his equipment in his car, which he will drive ahead every day, walk back 10 miles and then return.

He plans to spend some nights in hotels, other nights he may be in the middle of nowhere and camp in his tent or simply sleep in his car.

“I’ll be able to be pretty comfortable,” he said.

Four San Diego State ROTC cadets joined Cote on the first two, rainy hours of his journey.

“One of the heart-warming aspects of this first day’s walk was that these cadets were on Spring Break and they chose to walk with me in the rain,” wrote Cote on his blog.

According to his blog, his first day on the road was an interesting one: tough because of a missed breakfast and a sore ankle but good because of the cadets and a chance encounter with an Afghanistan veteran.

Cote wrote that the veteran ran past him while he walked, asking if he was “the walker.”

“I saw you on Fox TV,” the man said. “Hey, thanks for doing this. I just got back from Afghanistan 48 hours ago.”

The encounter got him through a challenging last six miles to the Pala Resort and Casino, where he would stay the night. In his next day’s plan: heading up Palomar Mountain.