By Karen L. Willoughby
Including his own weight, Roy Scott, 55, lugged 450 pounds from the rest area in Price Canyon to Soldier Summit on Sunday. He was carrying a 12-foot cross behind a rolling cart stuffed with personal gear, including two sleeping bags and a tent for winter travel.
Scott plans to make it to Price by Wednesday, where he has been given a couple nights at the Super 8 motel to rest up for the next milestone, which is Moab, on his journey to Little Rock, Arkansas.
That’s where he got sidetracked 10 years ago.
“You take it with you everywhere you go, and there you are, saddled with whatever it is you’re running from,” Scott said while taking a sleeping bag from the cart. He was setting up for the night on Saturday in a far corner of the rest area.
Scott’s story includes tragedy, loss and four years in the Army before, through the nightmares of PTSD, he centered on his relationship with God. This led to his cross-carrying trek “from ocean to ocean” across the United States.
“God told me if I did this, ‘I can fix everything in your life,’” the trekker said.
“Everything” includes the unspeakable anguish of the death of his four-year-old son, a death he unintentionally caused in 1997 when the youngster ran unseen behind the tractor Scott was using to back-and-forth level the motocross track on his 18-acre farm in Georgia.
Scott, a state champion motocross rider, trained up to 800 young motorcyclists throughout each month on the track, out of a membership of 4,000.
Five years after son’s death, with the sound of racing motorcycles reaching to estate-size lots of the ever-expanding Atlanta metropolitan area, politics intruded on the peace Scott sought from the ever-present loss of his first-born son, and politics won.
Scott lost his business, his marriage and his family. He joined the Army, anticipating he would be killed in combat, but it didn’t happen. He never left the States and four years after he enlisted, Scott was honorably discharged with PTSD.
By 2010, Scott, now back to the Christianity that had been part of his life since childhood, felt Jesus tell him to literally take up his cross and follow Him across the nation.
Scott started August 15, 2010, from Augusta, Georgia, 120 miles inland from the Atlantic coastline. (He had taken the wrong bus; it didn’t go to the coast and he didn’t have the money for another bus ticket.)
The trekker made it as far as Little Rock, Arkansas, about 700 miles, when “a huge winter storm blew in – it was December by then – and I got really scared,” Scott said.
Over the next several years of job-hopping across the country, he made it to Seattle, Washington. There, last summer during the rioting related to the George Floyd death in Minneapolis, Scott was attacked at the property he was managing. He was near-fatally slashed at his jaw and cheek with a box cutter.
During his hospital stay, he remembered the vow he’d made to God 10 years prior: that he would carry his cross across the nation.
“My last doctor’s appointment was September 10,” Scott said. “I left September 11.”
He gave away everything he owned but the clothes he was wearing and the cross he was carrying, including every penny he had, to be completely dependent on God’s provision for the trek back to Little Rock, Scott said.
He started walking on Highway 84 from the eastern edge of Portland, Oregon to avoid both Seattle and Portland protesters. The cross he built started breaking near Twin Falls, Idaho. A man named Mike Yurivilca, who saw the damaged cross, let Scott use his shop near Twin Falls to build a new cross out of 4×6-inch cedar beams that are 12 feet long and 5.5 feet wide, which Scott said would take him the rest of the way to Little Rock.
“That’s why Mike’s name is on the cross,” Scott said. As are many other names. People stop and talk with him, and Scott hands them a fat Sharpie pen to add their name. One family at the Price Canyon rest area had their three youngest kids climb on Scott’s shoulders for photo ops. When they were done chatting, the dad pulled the trekker to the side and gave him some money.
“God taught me how to love myself,” Scott said. “You’re not ready to love somebody until you love yourself. [The New Testament Apostle] Peter never felt worthy of God’s love, and I was like that when I first started out. Now I’m like John, [known as] the disciple Jesus loved.”
“When you get how much Jesus loves you, you’re never the same,” the trekker continued. “Knowing nothing can separate you from Jesus’ love, you can begin to learn to love yourself.”
Scott spoke of the guilt, resentment and unrelenting sadness God cleansed him of as he walked. He thought he was “permanently broken,” but God has taught him how to live unbroken.
“Forgiveness sets you free from the trauma,” Scott said. “You can’t move forward until you forgive. You’re stuck. If you’re stuck in hate, you’ll never have joy.”
Scott trekked east on U.S. Highway 84 until he reached Tremonton, Utah, and turned south on U.S. Hwy. 89. A trucker he met advised him to take Price Canyon and continue down through Moab and into Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he will catch Interstate 40 all the way to Little Rock.
He used to walk in the same direction as traffic, but he’s been hit twice, Scott said. A man he met in Price Canyon suggested he walk facing traffic, so he can get out of the way before being hit.
“Only thing is, it was kinda peaceful the other way, just walking on,” Scott said. “This way I’m seeing cars coming right at me and they’re like bullets whizzing by. And when it’s wet or snowy…” He motioned with his hands to indicate being soaked from road spray.
“I’m just trying to finish what I started,” Scott said. “This thing [the cross] kills me, but I’m getting stronger.” He paused in thought, then spoke again of his young son, John, who at three years old could already jump the width of two picnic tables, a motocross feat.
“Earlier that morning, [on the day he died] John said to me, ‘I figured it out, Dad! Everybody crashes but a champion never gives up.’”
Scott set his jaw in determination as he spoke, “I’m not giving up. All I gotta do to win is finish.”
Scott’s journey may be followed here.