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'All this kindness': Missouri couple stops in Montana during 48 state walking trek

Posted at 7:25 AM, Jun 17, 2024

LAVINA — One Missouri couple crossed Montana's state lines two weeks ago after walking from Greybull, Wyoming. Torin and Paige Rouse, known as the Walking America Couple, are on a mission share their message of positivity by walking across all 48 states in the continental U.S.

"We have the states divided into five segments according to season, so that we can hit them all in four walking years," said Torin at a host's home in Lavina.

Whether it was from Bridger to Rockvale, or from Laurel to Lavina, it was hard to miss the couple as they trekked along Montana roads with two push carts full of gear and their dog Jak.

"We're camping a lot of time in the public right of way, next to the road. Or we would call churches or town hall, just like local places and see if we could camp in a yard," added Paige.

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Paige and Torin Rouse with their dog Jak in Lavina.

What started as a personal journey for the couple in May 2022 has become their most important mission.

“We expected it to cause us to become more rugged people, to sort of test our metal, see what we could deal with...over time, it started ripping the cynicism out of me and caused Paige to become much more extroverted. We were just experiencing all this kindness,” said Torin.

“We didn’t expect it to be so hospitable and to connect with so many people, especially people that are so different than us,” Paige said.

After going through a change in perspective from their first six months of walking, the couple wanted to share their experience with the rest of the world by creating social media content from their journey.

A map of Paige and Torin's planned route.

“I think change the inside, change the outside summarizes a very large expansive message that we're trying to deliver to people...we want to set the example that you can find contentment under almost any circumstance, if you know how to train your thoughts properly,” Torin said.

It's a message they've spread to residents in 21 states so far with Montana being the latest.

“Now that we’ve walked through Kansas over the hot summer, or went through the terrible mosquito plague in Wisconsin, or the tornado in Kansas. We have those things to look back on and go, yea but this isn't really bad compared to that," added Torin. “If you’re bothered by the fact that you’re under the hot beating sun or you don’t have any running water, you can look at that obstacle as a means of personal growth."

The couple takes shelter from the elements by sleeping in places like tunnels.

Montanans have welcomed the couple and their message with open arms.

“It’s been really welcoming, especially with how much less dense the population is, and how far apart the towns are. We’ve had more interaction than we expected...people often stop and say hello, or see if we need water. Ask what we're doing," Paige said.

The couple's journey is funded entirely from donations and the kindness from the hearts of strangers.

"We have a pretty sizable following so it's opened up opportunities for us to run ads and take sponsorship. But we are making a statement and actively avoiding all of that...we're funded by people who want to donate to us that appreciate the content that we make. We make a lot of content," said Torin.

You can follow along the couple's journey for free through Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

Paige Rouse takes a breather at the couple's campsite.

They plan on stopping in Harlowton, White Sulpher Springs, Helena, and Missoula before continuing on to their next state.

"We'll be walking our way over to Missoula and across the panhandle of Idaho, over to Spokane, Washington. We'll cross most of Washington, drop down into Oregon and merge onto the Coastal Highway and follow that down to California. Finishing off with Nevada, Arizona, and Utah," Torin said.

It'll be about a year before they can travel home for a break, but to them, it's worth it.

"It wouldn’t be enough motivation to just do it for the adventure, but with the meaning behind it, it’s very fulfilling. It's definitely worth the challenge to feel like we’re impacting other's lives,” said Paige.