Griffin Armour, a missionary from Snoqualmie Ridge, returned home Friday evening after walking the 500-mile Washington section of the Pacific Crest Trail to help raise money for an upcoming six-month mission in Peru.
Though this is the first time Armour has embarked on a project like this, a drive to help people in need is nothing new for the 21-year-old.
The Armours moved to Snoqualmie Valley Ridge when Griffin was a few days old. His father, Tom, remembers that from a young age Griffin took joy in lending a hand.
He actively involved himself in food and toy drives. As he got older, he showed an interest in helping younger kids at his church, and always made himself available when anyone in his network needed assistance on a project.
“He’s somebody who’s got a real passion for working with others and bringing a smile to their face,” Tom said.
Griffin attended Mount Si High School, where he was on the wrestling team. Later, he went to Bellevue College and was in Running Start (a program allowing high school students to attend college for credit). At Bellevue College, he focused his studies on human geography, which analyzes human behavior and how it relates to the environment.
Griffin has consistently been involved with his community. He became a ski instructor at the age of 13 at Snoqualmie Pass. He’s also worked as a climbing instructor at Vertical World in Redmond.
Missionary work, though, has long been a major part of Griffin’s life. An early experience came in the form of a brief trip to a rural community in Honduras to build schools with his father and Church on the Ridge in 2013. He joined forces with the church again in 2014 to volunteer at an orphanage in Cambodia, and then in 2015 for another Honduras sojourn.
In 2016, he attended a discipleship training school with Youth with a Mission in New Zealand. He subsequently completed three months of missions in New Zealand and Peru in 2017, which focused on earthquake relief, and a recent six-month stay where he’s now based, Cusco, Peru, where he built swings in small villages and worked to improve tourism.
“Although his work is missionary work, it comes from much, much more,” Tom said of Griffin. “He’s always had, and always has provided that kind of support for people regardless of any religion, race or anything. It comes from a place of his personality — of being an individual who gets it, seeing people’s struggles and just wanting to help.”
Griffin intends to return to Peru in October. He aims to start projects like a movie festival for children and developing a rock-climbing (“bouldering”) area for tourism.
“I’ve been able to meet all these wonderful people that just love having tourists there, having new people there and just wanting people coming in,” Griffin said of the villages he’s worked with. “A lot of these villages, they’re reliant on tourism at this point. Without more people coming through their village, spending money … they won’t be able to continue living in these villages.”
Because Griffin is going back to Peru without a connection to a larger group, he knew he would have to raise money. He recently decided that a way to do that would be to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
He chose to limit himself to the Washington section because of time constraints. If one were to walk the entire PCT, which is about 2,650 miles long, it can take anywhere from four to six months.
The idea sprouted from a couple of things. Griffin, whose interest in backpacking has increased over the last few years, wanted to further explore the passion. He also wanted to show his dedication to his missionary work to the public.
“This work in Peru is something that I take very seriously,” Griffin said, adding that he wanted to push himself to his physical limits to “show people that I’m serious about it and give people an opportunity to share my story.”
The walk, which began on July 17, was difficult. But it wasn’t without its rewards. Though Griffin couldn’t pinpoint a specific “high” from the journey, he spoke of the majesty of the mornings, and the opportunity to take in the Washington wilderness.
“It might be the most beautiful section of the trail,” Griffin said of the segment he hiked. “I’m very prideful of living in Washington.”
Although it can be nerve-wracking as a father to have your child plunge into such an ambitious and potentially dangerous project, Tom has grown accustomed to the fact that Griffin is dependably thorough when planning.
“I had a lot of trust in his ability, and a lot of faith in what he was trying to accomplish,” Tom said. “The fact that he’s very, very diligent in planning — literally, he weighs everything down and can tell you how many ounces he’s carrying on his back — he knows the trail, he knows the maps, all those kinds of things.”
Still, Tom couldn’t help but have a few questions when he heard about what Griffin was wanting to do.
“My first reaction was, of course, from the standpoint of safety and health,” he said. But Tom added that at 21, Griffin makes decisions he feels are uncommon for people his age.
Tom looks forward to seeing what Griffin will do in Peru next.
“What he’s creating and doing in Peru is having a huge impact not just on the villages he’s working in but also on the people in Cusco,” Tom said. “All his efforts are really focused on that — leaving the world a better place than before he was around. His imprint, his impact … very much have a very big reach locally and globally.”
Missionary work is something that, for Griffin, is satisfying, even if it can often be demanding.
“It’s challenging, but at the end of the day, it is rewarding,” Griffin said. “Even if I’m dead tired at the end of the day, or no matter what’s going on, I do kind of go to bed knowing that I’m able to make a difference and being able to do something that can last long besides my being there.”
Between now and his return to Peru, Griffin said he would like to do a bit more backpacking. But because he’ll be staying for about six months — which he considers “both a short amount of time and a long amount of time” — he’s more likely to be planning and doing everything to ensure his work will be maximized once he’s there.
Although Griffin said he doesn’t have any specific goals when it comes to the long term, what he does know for certain is that he would like to continue doing work that both helps him and communities in need grow.
“I just like to do things that interest me, help other people and continue making myself a better person,” Griffin said.
For more information about Griffin Armour, go online to his website (https://www.griffinarmour.com/).