It’s our final day. In the morning the power is out, the wind is blowing hard and the sky is clouded over. And still I think to myself, this is good. A perfect day for hiking. We have less than 8 km left to hike, an easy walk by all accounts. I am filled with excitement.
By ten a.m. we are on the trail, dollar-store pinwheels planted in our knapsacks to catch the wind with a celebratory flourish and mark our final stretch. I feel like I want there to be a parade. Maybe, I think, we could blow our whistles as we walk the last kilometer. Not that I suggest it – I’m not sure it’s Marian’s style.
Behind us a group of three male hikers with full-sized packs is striding purposefully in our direction, quickly gaining on us. These are hikers in a hurry, and we let them pass. Today of all days our purpose is not to finish fast, but to savour. For one more day we will breathe in the smells of the forest, feel the soft carpeted trail beneath the pine trees, appreciate every mushroom and inspect every lookout. For three years we have been on this journey, a journey that so often felt like it would never end, but also a journey that taught us that progress is made step by step, slowly. As we approach the end and look back we see that we have walked far – clear across the province, almost 900 km.
When we reach the Visitor Centre, milling with people, and then walk on into town to reach the cairn, by now almost hidden from view by a row of parked cars, it strikes me how anti-climactic it all feels. There is no one to greet us at the end, no one to shake our hand or give us a certificate. Definitely no parade. It makes me glad that we thought to bring the pinwheels, and that we have a bottle of bubbly in the cooler in the car. We need to make our own celebration.
The saving grace, it turns out, is social media. As we toast our achievement on the bench beside the cairn, we post our photos on Facebook and immediately the messages of congratulations begin to pour in.
Maybe it is a parade after all. magdalena