WALKER COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — The old wisdom goes, the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. But the journey for Torin and Paige Rouse and their dog Jack is taking them thousands of miles across the country, each step on foot.
“[We have] sore muscles, hurt feet,” said Paige Rouse, laughing.
The Rouses are known as the “Walking America couple” because they’re on a mission to walk across all lower 48 states. The Missouri-based couple is currently walking through Walker County. They started in May 2022 and have made it to 15 states so far.
“We expect it will take about four years for the total tour,” said Torin Rouse.
After years of working for corporations, Torin said this started as a quest to find fulfillment.
“I got rid of everything I owned, and I backpacked a few hundred miles through the mountains in Colorado, and it completely reshaped my perspective. Even though I was subjecting myself to greater hardship than I had ever dealt with before, I was happier than I had ever been at the same time,” he said.
The couple averages around 15 miles a day before camping, and they said they visit states depending on the season and efficiency, avoiding big cities.
They originally planned only to walk from their home state of Missouri to Colorado, but they felt inspired by the kindness of strangers.
“We want to show people how much good there is out there. People have been way more kind and helpful than we ever expected when we started,” Paige said.
As their cross-country trek continues, they hope they can serve as an example that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. They also said they’ll never forget Alabama’s Southern hospitality.
“[Alabama] really is in close contention for our top friendliest state,” Torin said.