If you were following along our journey to hike the Bruce trail, it has probably been awhile since you have given it a second thought. The hike ended on June 9th, and I have done as little walking as possible since then. Some mornings, I still wake up and fear that someone will tell me I have to hike 34km. But I can breathe a sigh of relief whenever I remember that the 40-day, 900km through-hike is over. Not only finished – but rather joyfully and successfully completed. We actually did it.
As soon as we reached the end, I was sure I would never hike again. My body was exhausted and filthy, I was ill, sleep-deprived, and sore. My feet were covered in blisters and bruises, and I had lost a total of four toenails. I was tired of sleeping on the ground, and even more tired of eating trail mix. I needed to talk to someone other than the three guys that I was isolated with all day, everyday.
However, now that I’ve had a few months off the trail, I miss it more than ever. I miss the simplicity of life, and the sense of accomplishment I was rewarded with every day. I miss being active outdoors all day, and I miss knowing that someone, somewhere at camp would directly benefit from my daily exhaustion. I miss being wholly dependent on God to provide our needs for food, finances, and accommodations. I can’t wait until the next opportunity I have to be on the trail.
This hike has been an experience in understanding true hospitality. For the southern portion of the trail, we went from house to house, sharing meals with generous strangers and friends. We were welcomed into homes to rest and recover from the day so we could wake early and hike again the next morning. I wouldn’t have been able to hike day after day without these sanctuaries off the trail. Thank you to everyone who opened their homes and fridges to us.
The hike also taught me that I need support from people around me. I never thought that I needed words of affirmation, but some days these words were the only reason I finished the day. The easiest, happiest days were always when people joined us to hike for a day. Their fresh energy overflowed into us, and gave us the determination we always needed. To see people give up their time to come be with us would always cause me to cry the happiest of tears. Thank you to all of the people that came and hiked. You meant more to us than we could express. (Also a special thanks to my mom Ann for hiking over 100km with us!)
Now working at camp, I can see every day that this hike was worth every step. I am so blessed to be here and work with children that are able to be here regardless of their financial situation. I am able to treat every child as though I hiked for them. All children at camp get the chance to eat and play and build a community. They are loved by their counsellors and taught about the love from their saviour. Camp is a place so different from the rest of the world, and I pray everyone may be able to experience a space like this in their lifetime. By hiking, we were able to allow even a few more children to be here.
Because of this, I need to express my gratitude to our sponsors. We raised more money than we had even dared to imagine, with a total of $16 354.50! From the bottom of my heart, I am so thankful for everyone who gave sacrificially to our cause to send kids to camp. Without your fundraising, those 40 days would have been nothing but personal accomplishment and fitness. Both of these things are important, but wouldn’t have been reason enough to finish the hike.
Finally, I need to thank my team. Aaron (Talus), you were a fearless and patient leader. Your dream for this hike began so long ago, and your sheer determination is what caused it to be a reality. We wouldn’t have survived without all your hours of planning and organization. Your strength inspired me everyday to keep pushing. Your passion about sending kids to camp became a reality, and I couldn’t be more impressed by you. Hunter (Shea), you must be the most positive person I know. You always found a reason to make us smile even on the dreariest, stormiest days. I love your enthusiasm and how you won’t be satisfied unless you are your best self. You make me want to be better, more patient person, and more compassionate, generous and kind to everyone I interact with. Darryl (Stork), I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed or completed the hike most days without you telling me I could do it. Thank you for hiking beside me for hours on end, and waiting for me – even when I told you to go away. Thank you for helping me see the best in myself, and the situations around me. You documented this hike in the most beautiful way (except the parts where I cried), and I can’t wait to look back on your gorgeous photos and videos in all the years to come. Thank you for carrying your camera the whole way, so our memories won’t fade with time.
To all three of you, thank you for pushing me. Thank you for putting up with me on my best days and my worst. Thank you for picking me up when I (literally) fell and couldn’t get back up. Thank you for cooking when I was too tired, and going to Harvey’s when I had talked about it for an entire week. Thank you for giving me space when I needed it, and covering me in love when I felt alone and afraid.
This hike changed me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. God is so good.
Peace and Love,