My walk along the East Coast Greenway wrapped up yesterday with a short leg to Gouldsboro, Maine. Right now, as I pause in writing this post, I'm staring at a small pile of clothes that I have been wearing for the past two months, and I am giddy about stuffing them into Lucy, my giant backpack, for one last time.
In a few short hours I will be home. But let me catch you up on the past few days.
The Ellsworth to Franklin trip on Monday was along the 87-mile multi-use Downeast Sunrise Trail that runs parallel to Route 1. There are no cars or trucks, but you do need to yield to an occasional ATV, which can kick up dust from the trail, depending upon how fast its driver is traveling. There is hardly any shade, and little opportunity to sit while you hydrate.
However, thanks to the virtual Cadillac to Katahdin race in which I participated, I met Barbara. She walked the ten miles with me to Franklin, and her husband was there to pick us up. I was fortunate to spend two relaxing and enjoyable nights in their lovely home overlooking Frenchman Bay, with views of Cadillac Mountain.
They spoiled me, and served me lobster caught that very day!
My second day on the Downeast Sunrise Trail led from Franklin to Tunk Lake Road. Not only did I get to spend time with friends Billy and Charlie who were vising from home, but I got to meet the Sole Sisters of Sullivan, a local women's walking group who would keep pace with us for the first dusty mile. Thanks for coming, ladies!
The Ellsworth American was going to write a story about my journey, and Max was there to take some photographs before we started. Read more here: New Jersey woman honors late husband with 800-mile-plus trek to Maine
After the Sole Sisters turned around, Billy and Charlie and I, along with Argos, continued on. It's a long, hot trail, but I was encouraged when there was an opening in the trees, and I realized we were walking right next to Schoodic Mountain. The same mountain that made me catch my breath when I was only approaching the Penobscot Narrows Bridge almost a week ago.
We were happy to see the car at Tunk Lake Road, and fired up the A.C. in the car. We then stopped for some Gifford's ice cream before we did a tour of Schoodic Peninsula.
Our crew headed down the peninsula, with a stop at Raven's Nest, Schoodic Point, and more, topped off with another delicious meal at The Pickled Wrinkle.
The very last day of my two-month journey was spent walking on Route 1... again. However, it was only a short distance from Tunk Lake Road to my destination. Barbara, who joined me again, took us on a detour onto Grange Hall Road for a short break from heavier traffic.
And then there I was, standing in front of my final destination, the gateway to the town of Gouldsboro. Barbara and I hugged and high-fived, and then it was almost anticlimactic.
That is, until Don came to pick us up. He stepped out of the car with a lovely bouquet of flowers that Barbara had picked from her garden that morning. And then tears flowed.
I had originally wanted to walk the last day by myself. But having my new friends there with me did make the moment more special, more real, and allowed me to just be. For that, I am grateful.
Lyndon B. Johnson said, "Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time."
I may have only reached a little over eight hundred miles, but I found some peace along the way. I also made new friends, and strengthened bonds with current friends and family. And I hope I've made a difference by raising both money and awareness about two groups that bring people together in the outdoors.
Thank you for joining me on my journey.