A Dawn to Dusk Pilgrimage

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.

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A frosty refreshing morning.

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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.

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Morning light through the trees along Wilkinson.

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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.

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Wilkinson to Bob Galbreath the sky was scribbling a message!

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Heggenes Road

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Pastoral land full of creative people among the farms.

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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.
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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.

Pilgrimage 027 Pilgrimage 028 Pilgrimage 029 Pilgrimage 030 Pilgrimage 031Some trees smile.

Pilgrimage 032Lichen decorating the log I sat on for lunch.

Pilgrimage 033A gurgling stream below the Whidbey Institute.

Pilgrimage 034Halfway!!  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?

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Maxwelton valley

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An apple tree reminiscent of a Grinch.

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Crawford Road

Pilgrimage 039 Pilgrimage 040Putney 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).

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Twilight as I emerged from Saratoga Woods, thankful for my head lamp.

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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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Please click to donate here:

Erin’s Ultimate Hike Page

About Erin W

A sensitive plant, bamboo strong.
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4 Responses to A Dawn to Dusk Pilgrimage

  1. Rdenman says:

    Way to go Erin, on multiple levels. Thank you for sharing your journey of the day.

  2. jenniverek says:

    Amazing, congratulations on succeeding at your goal and for sharing it!

  3. Anne (mom) says:

    I am in awe.

  4. Barbara says:

    What a wonderful journey!

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