I had been interested in the idea of a long trek for a really long time. My uncle and I hiked the Camino de Santiago when I was a little younger so it was something that I had wanted for a while. I looked into a couple of the long-distance hiking trails in the States but I was working in a hostel for a little bit and I realised I was more interested I think in staying in Canada because there's so much of the country that I didn't know. As soon as I stumbled across the trail I knew it was something I was interested in.
Nope! Some young people take a gap year or set out travelling post-university, and I chose this. While I do think that seeing and understanding other parts of the world can be incredibly valuable, for me, at the start I looked at this as a chance to have a period of self-reflection while also making my footprint a little smaller.
More than anything it's just been developing a confidence maybe in my own ability or knowing I can do something or pursue something. I suppose it's like anything, if you set out to do something and you do it then it's something you can look back on and say, “I was able to do that, I was able to keep moving forward”. And this is like a really direct representation of that. I don't usually look at it that way until a little bit later, though. I try and take things as they come a little bit. And I think maybe that makes it easier: focusing on what you have at hand.
When my Achilles tendon swelled up it was like I had a golf ball on the back of my ankle. I was in the middle of the prairies and I knew I had to get into a city to get it looked at, but there were no buses, so at that point I had to go to a stranger and knock on their door and ask if there was some way of getting to town. In the end he gave me a ride.
Admittedly, I've had a couple of breaks from the trail but in those instances, almost as soon as I stopped walking I'd be itching for the trail. I'd spend a day or two at home, and it was really nice to see family and friends, but I'd miss the trail so much.
Day 343, cleaning up in Campbellford. "I think one of the most radical things a girl can do is to own her body. And we learn so young not to own these bodies of ours." -Staceyann Chin I've been thinking a lot lately about my body. About the immense gratitude that I feel for being able to do what I do on a daily basis. About the fact that, at this point in my life, I care for my body in a way that I never have before. About how I move: for the sake of movement (to delight in it), for the sake of moving (from one point to another), about how I move through the world. But also, more recently, about how fucked it is that I ever feel anything short of sheer awe at all that it allows me to accomplish. So, I suppose this post is a bit of a??to the shitty, one-dimensional representations of women that saturate the media. And some love for you if you're ever feeling less-than.
How I feel here is not any different from how I feel living as a woman at home. Carrying a safety device is nice but I don't know if it gave me confidence. I think it gave my mum confidence, though, and it made me happy that my mum was happy.
Not often – maybe because I had so many people join me along the way. But even during parts I've been by myself, I didn't often feel lonely. Alone, yes; lonely, no. I think sometimes it's easier to feel lonely in groups of people: there's a feeling of lacking connection with the folks you're around that leaves you aching for intimacy, or a disconnect leaves you longing for someone to understand you. That is something that I've never felt when I've been walking.
I'm definitely doing a 21st century version of this journey. Sometimes I walk in the quiet, but on other occasions I listen to music, audiobooks or podcasts. I call my friends and family. If I have a friend on the trail, sometimes we'll play cards, or make up games. Mostly, though, I spend a lot of time with my thoughts.