After more than four months on the trail, Mike is getting near the end of his walk. If you read through his post below you will see how it has inspired and uplifted him but while he has been on this beautiful, though admittedly challenging, journey, Zimbabwe has been on its difficult journey through elections with the outcome promising yet more suffering for its weary people.
For the elderly and infirm, life has never been harder: standing in queues for hours at a time in the vague hope of being able to draw any money from the bank is not really possible if you are in your eighties and slightly frail. Food, medicines and utilities have never been more expensive and for the elderly, just trying to administer all this is beyond them.
With so many families split and loved ones living far across the world, the work of ZANE has become even more vital as our wonderful care-givers kindly and compassionately visit each individual and spend time making sure that all is as well as can possibly be with them.
Please read Mike’s blog and feel inspired to reach out and help the elderly folk of Zimbabwe.
I’ve been lingering in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the ranges of Southern Maine. Mostly, to swim in one more river, pop one more handful of blueberries in my mouth, or catch one more ray of sunset splinter on the cliffs. But with a large dose of the lingering that comes from disobedient leg muscles and screaming knees.
For over a thousand miles, the trail has been beneath treeline. The first peak of the White Mountains that the trail crosses – Mount Moosilauke – thrusts above it again. I crossed Moosilauke in the late afternoon and the views back over the ridge drew all my worries and fatigue away in an instant. Since then, it’s been glorious range after glorious range. And the weather has been kind as well, cloudscapes or sunny skies with only a couple rain days scattered in.
The climbs and descents have been demanding, sometimes intimidating. I left my descent of Moosilauke too late and ended up clambering down slick black boulders at night. I followed the paw prints of a dog that had skipped past me with its owner half way down. The climb up to Franconia Ridge gained nearly four thousand feet in some five miles. And the traverse of the Presidential Ridge – including the highest peak in New Hampshire, Mount Washington – featured miles of boulder fields and ferocious, changeable winds.
Still, all of that, and all my cares in the world are for nothing, nearly, when a sharp corner or steep rise reveals sudden long-off peaks curling between the evergreens.
What is it about reaching a view? Partly, it’s the honoring of the bargain your mind made with the body on the journey there. When lactic acid burns in your legs and sweat drops off every angle of your frame, the body sets alarms ringing in the nervous system. To persevere, the mind and body must agree that all will later be well, despite the present pain. Some of the serenity you feel on a peak, I think, is this agreement reaching fruition.
There is a cosmic element to it as well. Pain and suffering shrinks our universe down and turns our vision inwards. The great expanses of the earth draws the mind’s eye out again, and troubles become merely personal again.
And of course there’s the sheer novelty of it. There’s a cloud, but it’s below me! There’s a ring of clouds and they encircle me completely! Here is a peak and I am on it! There is the valley I climbed up from, so far behind!
I’m not entirely sure. But I do know that I’ve been getting a lot of it lately, that I’m thankful, and that I hope to carry a seed of it with me forever.