Randy Montgomery intends to make a lot of friends over the next few years — and spread the idea that we can all get along better if we’ll just make the effort to talk to each other.
Montgomery, 62, a former log truck driver from Mount Shasta, California, is in the early stages of a planned “prayer circle walk” around the perimeter of the United States — an estimated 14,000-mile journey that he says will take four or five years to complete.
Montgomery was in the Methow Valley this week and stopped by the Methow Valley News office to chat about his trek, directed here by someone who said he should contact us.
Montgomery said he was impressed with the openness and friendly responses he has gotten from valley residents. He stayed at the North Cascades Mountain Hostel in Winthrop for three days.
Carrying a 70-pound backpack, Montgomery typically walks 10 or more miles a day and camps out most of the time, finding a motel room once a week to get cleaned up and do his laundry. He’s homeless, wears a bandana on his head, has an earring and is a big guy hauling a big pack — but Montgomery says he doesn’t want to alarm people or “look like a bum.” He has a cell phone with a solar charger to stay in touch and upload photos from his trip.
Montgomery said he got the inspiration to take his long journey after he lost his job, and in his down time read some books that got him thinking about how to heal what he says are some rifts that the country has taken a long time to create. He gave away most of his belongings and started out from California on July 1.
“I want to encourage everybody to start helping one another,” Montgomery says on his website. “If everybody starts today, we can change the way the world is working. If we start today, we will feel the rewards in the moment and feel good in the future; there will be a ripple effect of rewards in a pure, good way.”
“I’ve seen some incredible country and talked to some incredible people,” Montgomery said this week in Twisp. “I want to show everyone how beautiful this country is.”
You can follow what Montgomery calls a “journey with a purpose” at www.circlemakerrandymontgomery.com, and on his Facebook page, where he already has a couple thousand followers, he said.
Montgomery is financing the adventure with T-shirt sales and donations to a Pay Pal account available through his website. Sometimes money runs short, he said, but “everything happens as it needs to happen” to keep him going.
Montgomery says he won’t be daunted by money shortages or the harsh winter weather he expects to encounter soon as he makes his way across the northern edge of the country.
“There is no stopping me,” he said. “I want to do this more than I’ve ever wanted to do anything.”
Ultimately, it’s all about the mission, Montgomery said.
“We can be friends,” he said. “I totally believe this.”