Willmar man goes on months-long walk, from southern Florida to northern Minnesota

A Willmar man finished the trip of a lifetime on Sunday after he spent 10 months backpacking across the country.

One look at Richard Larson’s beard tells you all you need to know about the wild journey that it was. He left Key West, Fla on Nov. 23, 2021 and made it to Angle Inlet, Minn. by October 2, 2022; trekking from the southernmost point of Florida to the northernmost point of Minnesota.

"It was just exciting to come around the last corner on the road there," Richard told FOX 9 days later. Along the way, he’d celebrated his 50th birthday on the road; but even after 10 to 12-hour days, hiking 15 to 20 miles, he says he’s still not tired. "Even as we were leaving up there, I was looking out there like I wouldn’t mind just walking again," Larson said.

For him, the reward was found in the journey more than the destination. The life-changing trip has not only given him a new energy, but also a new outlook on the country that he calls home; especially at a time when he feels things have grown more divisive and toxic.

"It doesn’t matter what your background is or what your politics are, I just feel like seeing our country at ground level and face-to-face with people it looks a lot better," Larson said. "People would be driving by me on the road and stopping and asking if I was a hiker that had come from Florida, they were congratulating me and hopping out of their car and taking photos."

Now, five pairs of shoes later, and with memories to last a lifetime, Larson plans to head even farther north as he takes a new job in Alaska.