“The love for apple orchards was surprising,” cross-country walker Joe Hall shared as he adjusted his shoelaces during a break in downtown Placerville last weekend. “It was crazy, all packed with people.”
Hall had just journeyed from Pollock Pines to Placerville via Apple Hill in his trip across the United States to raise awareness for the mental health crisis in the country. He’s on his eighth pair of shoes — his last pair, he said — and plans to stroll into San Francisco Nov. 22, ending his adventure and celebrating his 40th birthday the same day. The Ohio resident started his walk May 15 at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, averaging about 17 miles each day, and he’s sharing stories along the way via Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.
Walking more than 3,200 miles by the end, Hall decided to embark on the journey after battling suicidal thoughts when his life took a downturn in 2020. He had lost his job and suffered catastrophic injuries in the span of just a few months.
“Fast forward a little more than a year later and YouTube’s algorithm suggested a video for me — ‘Live Before I Die’ by Mike Posner, a music video chronicling his own transcontinental walk in 2019.” Hall shares on his website, hallacrossthecountry.com. “It spoke to me and since seeing the video the thoughts of doing this for myself permeated my waking moments.”
He also walks in honor of a friend’s 16-year-old son, who tragically took his own life. His trip raises funds for the Dayton Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health Unit in Ohio.
Hall told the Mountain Democrat he’s grateful for the people he has met along the way, many wanting to help. “I have three times the sock than what I started with,” he joked.
In Carson City a woman bought him rubber boots to keep his feet dry during the trek across the Sierra. He didn’t encounter too much snow through Tahoe and up U.S. Highway 50, he said, and plans to donate all the donations he has left over at journey’s end.
Sitting on a bench across from City Hall on a sunny Sunday in Placerville, Hall said though he wished some road shoulders were a bit wider (he travels with a cart filled with supplies) the trip through El Dorado County has been great. “It’s beautiful country.”