Cross country walk has a purpose

2010-07-26T16:50:00Z Cross country walk has a purposeCHELSEA KROTZER Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
July 26, 2010 4:50 pm  • 

A discarded Montana license plate from a ditch outside Hardin is strapped with bungee cords to the front of a three-wheeled cart holding two bins decorated with bumper stickers from various states.

Inside is everything Jack Morris has needed for the past two months including camping gear, clothing, shoes, a first-aid kit, tools, cooking supplies, food, water and sunscreen.

Morris, 40, hit the road on May 1, exactly one month after losing his Seattle-based job.

“The week before, I had been telling a friend of mine I had the best job,” Morris said, walking down Highway 87 toward Lockwood late Monday morning.

Unemployed and unsure of his future, Morris decided to do something extraordinary.

He decided to walk, starting in Jacksonville, Fla., to where he now calls home, Seattle. Once he arrived in Georgia, he decided to walk for a cause. He dedicated the 3,000-mile walk to Seattle Children’s Hospital.

His goal is to raise $100,000. He only has $6,000 so far, but is not discouraged.

Morris walks between 10 and 14 hours a day, seven days a week. To date, he’s only had eight rest days and has gone as little as 15 miles and has far as 40 in one day. His average is 25 miles a day walking 3 mph.

Since it’s about a 100-day walk, he’s assuming most funding won’t come in until the final 10 days.

Another goal is to have 5,000 followers on his blog and Facebook page to increase awareness and funding.

“If I didn’t accomplish anything else moving forward, I could always say I did this,” Morris said.

He made it to Billings on Monday. Morris lived in Billings for 10 years in the 1970s and attended Central Heights Elementary.

He also spent 10 years in Missoula and is looking forward to catching up with old friends and family during his journey through Montana and on to Idaho.

Morris has already made a few friends along the way. In adverse weather conditions, like tornadoes in Missouri, Morris seeks shelter of a local hotel, but often chooses to spend the night camping in the woods or on someone’s property — with permission, of course.

One man living in Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp advised him to move on to the next town instead of finding shelter at his home.

“He was my first memory of the trip,” Morris said. “He lives off the swamp … eats alligator, cotton wood, hog and rattlesnake and breeds pit bulls. He wouldn’t let me stay because of the dogs.”

He did, though, share some time and a few stories before Morris traveled six more miles to the nearest town.

With about 900 miles left, Morris is looking forward to seeing the Pacific Ocean again.

“I’ll probably be overwhelmed when that happens and dive right in,” Morris said.

He’ll have to make a stop in Bozeman first for a fifth pair of shoes. After starting with a cross-train hiking boot, Morris switched over to a running shoe.

“It looked like a chainsaw went to my feet,” said Morris, who had to frequently stop and bandage up.

The new shoes not only feel better, but last longer — up to 500 miles per pair.

He hopes the pair he picks up in Bozeman will last for the rest of his journey, which is scheduled to end by Sept. 10, just in time for a friend’s wedding.

Contact Chelsea Krotzer at ckrotzer@billingsgazette.com or 657-1392.

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