We made it to Mexico! I had this vision of what the last miles would be like - easy, peaceful, a time for reflection and excitement. Just like when I made it to Canada 2 years ago from the Oregon/Washington border, we would hang out at the monument and soak in the glory. Well, like most things in life, we got something other than expected.
We went to sleep in our tent 11 miles from the border the night before with border patrol helicopters flying overhead. Halfway through the night it started raining, waking us intermittently. We got up at the usual 4 am, ready to walk in the dark at 5 am. The rain continued. Gradually our pants and socks began to soak through and eventually we were completely wet. Just like that time in Washington so many months ago. So our last miles were not peaceful. We had a wet push to the finish and spent minimal time at the monument - we wrote 2 short sentences in the hiker register and took only 1 photo. Then we turned around. That was it. That was Mexico.
The first people to congratulate us on our finish were strangers - a man drove by in his truck and asked if I was lost as I was walking back to the general store in Campo.
"Nope, not lost! Just headed to the store. I walked here from Canada."
It stopped raining as soon as we finished our hike, so we sat outside the store drying out and waiting for the bus. As per usual, this gave us the opportunity to talk to all the local folks who show up - a crazy lady with a cart, a stump of wood, and a cell phone she didn't know how to use; the store clerk; the friendly old man; the dude who's overweight friend had hiked all the way to Canada and lost 80 lbs; and the fellow who lived right next to the store and had seen all kinds of crazy things go down at the border.
In the few hours we spent outside the store, most of the people we talked to had the same question for us - how was it? Well, it's impossible to sum up, really. Especially so close after the fact. It's such a huge feat that even my own brain can't quite comprehend it. Some more specific questions are easier to answer. So here are our answers to some frequently asked questions.
What have we learned?
No matter what the problem, the solution is to keep walking. Too windy? Too rocky? Foot hurts? Tired of going uphill? Tired of walking? Keep walking! Eventually the wind will stop, the terrain will change, something else will hurt to distract you from past pain, or the pain will go away. Eventually we'll get there, whatever the destination may be, and we can stop walking. But the only way there is to walk.
What was the hardest part?
We've had different challenges at different times, so it's tough to say which was the hardest. The snow in Washington was surely difficult to traverse and wore us out right off the bat. Then the monotony of Oregon and Northern California was a mental challenge. The steep climbs and thin oxygen in the Sierras in combination with long food-carries and the weight of a bear canister made for a strenuous stretch of trail. Then the strong winds that wrapped us up like a sheet of ice and relentlessly pushed us sideways in the high desert. Then the cold cold nights. The 20 mile waterless climb up Mt. San Jacinto. There were endless challenges. All different.
What was the best part?
Washington. Washington was surely the best. Not quite as lifeless as the high Sierra, but just as dramatic. Complete with high pointy peaks but also green flowering meadows, bubbling streams, fern filled forests, and
volcanoes in the distance. We've missed Washington ever since we left, and are so happy to call this place our home. We're both tired of walking but are still looking forward to a damp day hike once we get back to the Pacific Northwest.
Why did we do this?
We like the lifestyle. Eating lunch on the ground next to a stream, sleeping under the stars, absorbing the silent beauty. At the end of the day we are truly in touch with our most basic needs... eating, sleeping, talking to a friend. It keeps us centered.
But also, as we stated on our home page, we're trying to make this into something bigger. We reached a point where what we saw in the world was overwhelmingly frustrating. In a food environment where the unhealthy choice is the easy one, sometimes we feel helpless. This hike and project is our way of helping to make change and take things into our own hands. We hope that we've reached some people with our message and are still trying to reach our fundraising goal. :)
What's the best part about being back in the developed world?
Pooping in a toilet.
What are we doing next?
Bug - I'm going back to Seattle to see my dog (Sprout!), friends, and find a place to live. I'll be starting an 8 month dietetic internship in March of next year, with rotations in Washington DC with the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, with my good friends at the Bastyr Dining Commons in Seattle, and at a Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Willits, California. When all that's over, I'll become a Registered Dietitian and get right to work helping people make better food choices and reverse chronic diseases.
Mud - I'll be back in the Seattle area and applying to Grad schools for a Master's in Public Health and Nutrition. I'm looking forward to hanging out with my friends and dog (Trigger!), doing some handy man work, as well as visiting some family in Texas... all the while, eating as much fresh produce as I can find.
It feels good to have finally accomplished this goal, and it's exciting to move on to the next phase of our lives. We are so thankful for all of the support we've experienced from friends and strangers alike in the past few months. We couldn't have done it without you.
Stay tuned for some video/slideshow summaries of our journey, and in the mean time... our donation page for A Well Fed World will stay open through the end of the year. If you haven't looked into this organization (or our resources page), or made a small donation, take some time to check it out! We will continue to welcome donations, questions and comments!
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