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April 11, 2024

'Professional walker' to stop in Philly as his 400-day trek across U.S. nears end

Holden Minor Ringer, whose journey began in Washington state, spent Thursday strolling through Quarryville.

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Walk2Washington Courtesy/Holden Minor Ringer

Holden Minor Ringer began his journey in Washington state over a year ago and has walked in 16 states and D.C. so far. He's passing through Philadelphia on his way to Connecticut.

Holden Minor Ringer had to take a short pause during a phone interview to cross a river. 

"My feet are getting a little wet," he said with a laugh. "You're getting the firsthand experience."

Ringer is a self-proclaimed "professional walker" who on Thursday marked his 400th day trekking across the United States. He started in Washington state in 2023 with the idea of walking to Washington, D.C. He just made it there in early March, has walked in 16 states and has expanded the journey to head up to New Haven, Connecticut. 

He hit Pennsylvania a few days ago and is passing through Philadelphia this weekend. Outfitted with lots of canned food, protein bars, pop tarts and a jogging stroller named Smiley, he has spent about eight hours a day walking the more than 4,500-mile journey. Fans can follow along on his Instagram, @walkfromwashington, and his blog, which includes a link to make donations for the trip.

Ringer said he wanted to walk across the country in part because he likes to walk and wanted to explore the country. He's also been raising money for America Walks, a pedestrian advocacy organization. 

"We built our cities and our communities to be centered around the car instead of people, and I think we can do better," Ringer said. "I think we can change that "

Lately he's been camping at church pavilions, but he's also spent nights in hotels (mostly paid for by supporters following his journey) or at homes of family and friends. While he's taken a ferry and would be open to using a bus to cross non-pedestrian bridges, he hasn't ridden in any cars so far and will walk just about anywhere  on highways, sidewalks or hiking trails. 

He spends his walks listening to music or audiobooks, calling loved ones and just enjoying the scenery.  

On Thursday, he was walking the Enola Low Grade Trail around Quarryville, having just left York. He's due in Philly on Saturday and will likely be here until Thursday or Friday, though he will be flying to Missouri for a funeral and back in the middle of his stay. 

041124 Holden Ringer walk 2Courtesy/Holden Minor Ringer

Holden Minor Ringer used a jogging stroller, which he named Smiley, on his journey.

The only item on his agenda for Philadelphia is getting a chocolate-covered onion at the Reading Terminal Market (he heard about it years ago from an episode of "Bizarre Foods" and wants to give it a try). Often, he said, he likes to visit places found on Atlas Obscura, but he's open to suggestions. A chicken cheesesteak might also be on the list, and he'd like to try some pretzels, too. 

"I've only heard good things about Philly," Ringer said. "I think people from Philadelphia are very proud to be from Philadelphia, so I'm looking forward to seeing that"

Ringer isn't quite sure what he'll do after he reaches Connecticut and finishes the journey. He's open to writing a book, going to law school or working on a campaign. He thinks he'd like to go back to Washington, but he's also loved a lot of places on his journey. What's most important for him, though, is finding a home with a community he can be invested in. 

"It's interesting having that takeaway because I think earlier, before the walk, I was very much like 'Oh, I'm never gonna settle, I want to be a perpetual adventurer. I'm going to go walk across the world,'" Ringer said. "Over the course of the walk, it's just been like, 'No, I think ... it'd be really beautiful to find a place where I can call home.'"

While he has no idea where he'll settle down, he's not ruling out Philly. 

"Who knows? Maybe I'll fall in love with Philly," Ringer said. "I'm open to it, anyway."