Now that I am well over the halfway kilometer mark of My Walk, I realize that with all the struggles, hardships, sacrifices, mishaps, and monotony of walking each day, this way of life will soon be gone and become a memory — a colorful memory, but it isn’t over just yet.
After a little reflection and wrestling with the idea of what I am doing, I have come to the conclusion that is doesn’t matter what two points connect a walk of some distance: ocean to ocean, country border to border, or the entire length of a national trail network. In all honesty, though, it can really be any two points, since it is the middles where all the action is. What really matters are the events, memories, and lessons learned while one listens to the jostling and grinding of gravel underfoot or that rythmic crunching of small rock chips with each foot step.
Many of the highlights of My Walk this year and last year has been less about the kilometers and destinations and more about the people, new routines, and exposure to the different ways people live. It has also been about learning and understanding the historical factors that helped create small communities and those same factors that have caused their unfortunate demise.
The middles have also enabled me to experience the daily swing from boredom to fun in such short spans of time; I have a new respect for the later: boredom. I believe it to be an important part of this journey and maybe something that was missing in my life; allowing me time to just live in the now and accept the fact that one doesn’t need to be busy all the time. It is okay to not be engaged with something all the time.
Many times, I have stopped for the day under a tree for shade, relegated to my tent because of an insect rebellion (the ticks of Manitoba or the mosquitoes and flies of Saskatchewan or Alberta), or even just seated at some random location because I have walked as far a I wanted to walk for the day. This new appreciation for listening to the quiet rustling of a tree’s leaves while stopped on the side of a backroad, or the busy footsteps of chipmunks on the forest floor without a thought in my head has only deepened my understanding of the importance these events brings to one’s life — I think they call this relaxation and quiet reflection.
Walking has also taught me about patience, which I am still working on, and that sometimes weather, ground conditions, or a bus system can work against your forward progress or a planned milestone you wished to achieve — I think they call this life.
I have recently been caught in a severe thunderstorm, a two hour thunder, lightening, hail, wind, and rain maelstorm of the atmosphere, which I had to wait out in my tent under the cover within a forest. Even though this stalled my plans to reach Athabasca to pickup my next food drop before the post office closes, it doesn’t matter. I am now going to a family’s house for a fire tonight, which looks like might also get cancelled because of another storm rolling in, darn.
I remember walking the tens of kilometers of sinking sand and gravel along the Alberta Iron Horse Trail; pulling that cart of mine behind me with every grueling and frustrating step. It doesn’t matter, though. I have had some incredible interactions with people within the small towns along the way and eaten some great food.