Senior walks 1,250 miles to Canada over summer

Global Opportunities Week begins Monday
September 27, 2019
Andrew Schmidt
September 27, 2019

Senior walks 1,250 miles to Canada over summer

Many students spend some of their summer vacation going to other countries, but most don’t travel by foot.

But Matthew Myers, senior accounting major, hiked from Greenville to New Brunswick, Canada, traversing 1,250 miles in 86 days this summer.

Myers said he got the idea for his journey during his sophomore year when he heard about Andrew Forsthoefel, who gained attention after trekking 4,000 miles across the United States in 2011. The idea of doing something like that immediately appealed to Myers, but he didn’t decide to go on his hike until this summer.

“I just sort of realized that I wouldn’t have another chance to try something like this,” Myers said.

Before embarking, Myers read Forsthoefel’s book, Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time, and did online research.

Although the fastest way to Canada was to go up through Detroit, Myers said that he preferred to stick to the East Coast and big cities, staying near urban areas most of the time.

On May 10, Myers set out, having to rely on the kindness of others to find places to stay. “I just knew that I was gonna have to trust God,” Myers said. “I was very thankful for God’s provision.”

During a rough first week including anxiety, blisters and struggles to find a place to stay, Myers found a fire station that let him camp out on the property. They gave him dinner and took him in a fire truck to McDonald’s for dessert.

Later, while walking through North Carolina, he was asked by two men sitting on a front porch if he was homeless and needed to rest. After making conversation, Myers discovered these two were homeless, hanging out at an abandoned house. He spoke with them for about 30 minutes and then moved on.

Myers was also able to rely on various churches to provide lodging, including West Haven Baptist Church in North Carolina and Evangelical Baptist Church in Massachusetts.

After attending a church’s evening service, he would sometimes ask if he could rest there before setting out the next day. He also used a network of friends of friends, whom he didn’t always know. “I didn’t camp out as much as I thought I was going to,” Myers said. “There’s a lot of nice people out there who will help you if you ask.”

But Myers’ journey wasn’t easy. Some days, he had to keep trudging through pouring rain. Other times, he struggled to find a place to stay. In Northern Maryland, in order to avoid a 10-mile detour, Myers sprinted across a mile-long road bridge that had very little space past the white lines. “That was pretty scary,” Myers said.

Myers also got sick in New Jersey, vomiting and not wanting to eat. At that point, he began to wonder if he had gone far enough and should quit. “But thankfully,” Myers said, “I had a relative nearby who was able to put me up for the time, so I was able to recover and keep going.”

After three days, Myers continued onward from New Jersey with about 600 miles to go.

Eventually, Myers made it to Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada, on Aug. 3, where his parents were waiting for him, welcoming him to his finish line after 1,250 miles. “It’s hard to believe that I walked all that way,” Myers said. “It’s just one day at a time.”  

Although Myers doubts that time will permit another hike like this one, he remains open to the possibility, especially if someone else joins him during the long journey. In the meantime, Myers encourages others to consider their own crazy ideas in the same way he did.

“You won’t be able to do stuff like this forever,” Myers said. “So take advantage of the time you have.”