One man is walking across America

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By Emily Jones

After graduating from BYU, Isaiah Shields bought a home and was working as a corporate finance analyst. One day, his plans changed.

With nothing but a baby buggy and a good pair of sneakers, Shields left his house in Provo to walk across America from coast to coast.

“I told him that it was a terrible idea every single time, it just sounded like a lot of pain…a lot of walking…a lot of nothingness on the highway,” Shields’ brother, Dallin Shields said.

According to Shields, he frequently tells the people he meets on the road that he used to be a normal person who went to school and worked a job, but at one point he decided to go on a really long walk.

“So, I quit my job, and started walking,” Shields said.

The plan is simple. Shields will walk from his driveway in Provo, Utah, to the most western point of the United States which is Cape Alava, Washington. 

After that, Shields will walk across Montana, down to Texas to avoid the cold winter months up north, and then to the easternmost point of the U.S.: a lighthouse in Maine.

“People think that I want to be rich or famous and trust me, this is not what you would do if you want to become rich or famous,” he said.

At the time of writing, Shields has been on the road for five months and has walked 2,850 miles. He hit his first landmark in Cape Alava and is now on his way through Wyoming, headed towards Texas.

Shields said he has learned a lot from life on the road. “I didn’t realize how windy of a country we live in and you don’t really realize how infuriating wind is until you’ve had to walk into the wind for weeks at a time.”

Shields said there have also been multiple times where he had to dive into bushes to avoid some drivers who are drifting onto the shoulder of the road.

A lot of people notice Shields as he walks on the side of the road.

“Every eyeball is looking at you and when they’re behind a car they don’t feel any qualms about just staring at you,” he said.

While some have looked down on him for appearing to be homeless, he said others have seen him camping in his tent off of the side of the road and offered food, money, or a place to stay.

“I come across a lot of people who are just touching with their generosity, with their willingness to let a perfect stranger stay in their home for the evening,” he said.

Through the trip, Shields’ family keeps a close eye on his safety and he said that he’s talked to his family more on this trip than he ever has before. His brother Dallin said that overall, their family is trying to encourage him as much as possible.

Shields said he fully expects to complete his journey before winter of 2022. In the end, he said he’s grateful that he took that first step back in May.

“Getting to know what it’s like to do something challenging was a good call,” he said. To keep up with Shields’ journey, check out his YouTube channel “You Do You.”

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