I did it. Finally walked a marathon distance of 26 miles in a day, clearly not focused on speed. I completed the distance in 10 hours.
November 23, 2013, was chosen by Ultimate Hike when I signed up to be part of their Pacific Crest Trail team and on second thought decided to do my own route close to home after realizing: a) I could not afford to take more than 1 day off work for travel and recovery, b) Flying 5 hours to LA the afternoon prior to waking at 3 a.m. would likely stack the deck against my physical body to muster the longest hike of my life. (Turned out I made the best decision for me for another reason – the Big Bear Lake area had a weekend snowstorm – making hiking an additional challenge). But that did not stop them!!! BRAVO
The pilgrimage I took opened my eyes to gorgeous parts of Whidbey I had not seen before, and ended up creating material for a pictorial e-book I intend to make called “A Mother’s Pilgrimage to Let Go” that I hope to make available to parents facing childhood cancer.
Amazingly, I had not considered prior to setting out that November 23 is almost exactly (-2 days) 9 years to the day I rushed my 3-year-old girl to my local hospital and 6 hours later caught the last ferry out to speed toward Seattle Children’s Hospital. In numerology, 9 is the number that represents the end of a cycle. For 7 years I have been trying to let go of my attachment to the 2 years prior, and this walk finally helped me do it.
From this point on, I will only go back to that story to help others, not drag myself down. Let me be clear: My daughter is a thriving being close to her 13th birthday(!), but the childhood cancer experience has haunted me.
Here is my walk’s story in pictures. I left at dawn, intending to start in dark.
A frosty refreshing morning.
Ever since the end of Carli’s cancer treatment, I had a dream to hand over her Hero Beads, each representing one part of medical treatment, to the natural world to heal the experience. The e-book will contain all the images I took along the way with explanation of the beads that other families can obtain as a symbolic way to capture their story. Here are just two of those shots.
Morning light through the trees along Wilkinson.
As I was reflecting on all the children I met along my daughter’s cancer journey, I came across this monument to a car crash bathed in light, reminding me there are many ways young people die.
Wilkinson to Bob Galbreath the sky was scribbling a message!
Pastoral land full of creative people among the farms.
This image is in honor of Kaitlin who watched the movie “Spirit” at least 500 times, endured 4 years of cancer treatment (if she had Hero Beads, they would be 6 feet long), and was able to fulfill her wish to ride a Kiger mustang before she left the earth at age 7.
A mom and baby cow. The calf had been nuzzling the mom’s neck as I approached and I stood for 5 minutes hoping she would return to that pose, but clearly they were star-struck.
Some trees smile.
Lichen decorating the log I sat on for lunch.
A gurgling stream below the Whidbey Institute.
Halfway!! Thanks to my sister Sara for loaning me her i-Pod of fabulous playlists to keep me going. What is it about halfway points toward goals that makes us want to stop?
An apple tree reminiscent of a Grinch.
Putney Woods (I checked the hunting season schedule to make sure it had a break during this week, but I still heard gunshots and had no cell bars, so I was hoping they were from the shooting range and not the woods I was in).
Twilight as I emerged from Saratoga Woods, thankful for my head lamp.
And since I forgot to ask my mom to take a pic when she did a water drop at mile 16 (thanks Mom!), just to commemorate who did this journey, here is a photo my daughter took of me and the “peace potato” earlier this month.
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