When I began the trail, living from a backpack was foreign to me. Home was my room, my house, my neighborhood, my town. Somewhere along the way, however, those defaults changed.
Living on the trail became a home of sorts. Packing and unpacking my world each morning and night became as familiar as all my old routines.
I realised this somewhere in the wilds of Maine. Perhaps it was after clambering through the Mahoosuc Notch, which I’ve seen aptly described as a “deranged pit of boulders.”
Or perhaps it was scaling the Crocker Mountains in a thunderstorm, when I took shelter from the hail with a pair of south-bounders who had just run into a moose – nearly literally.
Or perhaps it was somewhere in the hundred-mile wilderness just before Katahdin. It probably was then – I forgot two days of food at the hostel, so I was on rations for a couple of days and a bit light-headed.
Whenever it happened, once I noticed the mental change, I felt like it was time to come home. One of the main reasons I did the hike was to give me a place from which to evaluate my old life. While those habits remained my default, however, this seemed difficult to accomplish.
After I complemented my mental framework with trail life, I became more confident about my return. All that remained was to climb Katahdin.
The morning of the ascent was sunny and I was lucky to have a dear and special friend with me for the final leg. The trail up was tough and after a couple thousand feet we entered the windy clouds.
When the summit sign appeared through the mists, though, my heart still jumped, and when I clambered up next to it, I remembered all the times I had thought of that moment, for a last bit of energy at the end of a day, and I teared up.
Now my walk is done, and I’m left with a profound sense of gratitude – to the loved ones who supported me, to all those I met on the trail, and to all of you for giving me something to hike for.
Thank you, and if you can find it in your hearts to support those so much less fortunate in our beloved Zimbabwe by contributing to the work of ZANE, it will be a blessing to all of us.