A Walk Across America With a Stop in Rockaway Beach

 A Walk Across America With a Stop in Rockaway Beach

By Katie McFadden

Ever thought about walking across the country? Holden Minor Ringer, of Washington, did just that, and on Monday, April 29, he made Rockaway Beach one of his many stops as he winds down his epic adventure.

Starting in La Push, Washington on March 8, 2023, Ringer, now 26, dipped his left foot in the Pacific Ocean before beginning his long journey, knowing that one day he would put his right foot in the Atlantic. However, his first major goal was to walk from one Washington to the other, the state on the west coast, to the capital on the east coast.

Not everyone dreams of one day walking across the country, but the idea crossed his mind during his senior year at Emory University in Atlanta, when he decided to take a break during finals in May 2021 and go for a long walk. He only did about five or 10 miles then, but along the way, the question filled his mind—“What would it be like to walk across America?” The seed was planted, and it grew from there. Ringer moved to Washington in December 2021 for the AmeriCorps VISTA program and was going home for the holidays to Dallas, TX, when his mom told him she had Covid. So, wanting to enjoy the warm weather of home, he went for a 20-mile walk in Dallas. “I thought, I could do this every day for a year,” he said. He spent the following year researching, plotting, planning and talking to others who had done it before. As of Monday, he was on day 417 of his walk.

Why? A personal challenge, a chance to see America, and an opportunity to raise funds for America Walks. America Walks provides critical strategic support, training, and technical assistance to partner organizations and individuals on regional, state, and neighborhood levels, to effectively advocate for change, to make for a more walkable America.

Since he left La Push in March 2023, Ringer has traversed 19 states or U.S. territories—Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. In that time, he’s walked roughly 4,500 miles, burning through eight pairs of sneakers. On average, he walked about 30 miles a day, with the most being 52 miles as he made his way to Atlanta. On March 27, he reached his first goal and made it to Washington, D.C.

It wasn’t always easy, of course. There were some breaks in between as Ringer decided to spend some extra time in certain cities. In Denver, CO, that break was a little longer. “I was at a low point in the walk, and I very much wanted to take a break. He got there on August 2, 2023, and even got an apartment, anticipating a stay as long as seven months. But after nearly two, he found the motivation to go on and was back on foot by September 25. “That was the story of every day. There were some challenges and difficulties. Maybe some days I was saying f*** on the side of the highway, but you realized how far you had already made it, and you keep going, piece by piece, little by little. And now we’re here on a sunny day at Rockaway Beach,” he said.

After reaching his first goal of Washington, D.C., Ringer still had unfinished business. He knew he had to make it to the Atlantic Ocean. And what would a walk across America be without a stop in one of the most famous cities in the U.S.—New York. Using his trusty companion, Google Maps, Ringer looked for the closest beach to the Atlantic as he made his way up the east coast and had his eyes set on Rockaway Beach, despite not knowing anything about it. However, as he got closer, and wanting a “group finale” for this leg of the walk, Ringer was hoping for a big group to meet him as he jumped into the Atlantic. At the last minute, that led him to changing his polar plunge meetup to the NYC beach that originated it—Coney Island. Despite feeling under the weather, on Saturday, April 27, Ringer gathered with a group of friends and fans, including others who had walked across the country and were following his story, and met him for his dip in the Atlantic.

But he didn’t want to skip Rockaway. On Monday, April 29, which happened to be a beautiful 82-degree day in New York, Ringer left the place he was staying with friends in Park Slope and made the trek to Rockaway to keep his promise. Taking off his right shoe, Ringer dipped his right foot into the Atlantic on Beach 86th Street in Rockaway Beach.

Ringer couldn’t have done it alone, of course. Part of the reason he says he was able to take more than a year out of his life to make this journey, was having the security of some inheritance he received from his nonni who passed in 2017 and his granddaddy who passed in 2021. Their memorial resides in New Haven, CT, where Ringer is continuing on to pay his respects and complete his journey. However, Ringer says he hasn’t had to touch that funding, due to the generosity of mostly strangers who have helped him along the way. Documenting his journey online, Ringer often received donations and met people along the way who provided him with a warm meal and a bed to sleep in after a long day on foot. “I wouldn’t have been able to get here without people who have treated me with such generosity and kindness. And it was complete strangers, not just friends and family. It’s people who just met me for the first time and welcomed me into their homes,” Ringer said. After all, it wasn’t questionable strangers that Ringer feared the most, but rather, distracted drivers along highways as he made his journey.

Besides the help of kind strangers across America, Ringer wasn’t completely alone. He walked with a jogging stroller to hold his belongings, which often led to questions from strangers about his baby. He dubbed the red jogging stroller, Smiley. “People might think it’s tough walking 30 miles in a day, but the real challenge was having to get up and do it again the next day. But I woke up every morning being very appreciative for the opportunity to get to do it. No matter how hard it got, I always had a smile on my face and that’s where Smiley got his name from. Through the adversity, you have to smile through it. It doesn’t mean you can’t cry or have difficulties and ask for help, but you kind of just keep going.”

To follow Holden as he finishes his journey to New Haven, CT, follow walkfromwashington on Instagram or check out his website, walk2washington.com

Related post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *