Words from Backtrack: About 3 months ago, somewhere in PA, I stopped at a shelter to have lunch and rejoin my hiking buddies. While I sat there, trying to massage my knees to get them through the afternoon, I saw an inchworm climbing a nearly invisible strand which hung from the corner of the shelter's roof. He was about a foot above the ground. My first thought was that this little guy was going to be at this climb for a long, long time. I pulled a Snickers out of my food bag and got talking to some other hikers. A bit later, I realized that I needed to fill my water bottles at the spring. I stood, and the inchworm, unbelievably, was at eye level. His secret was that, slow as he was, he didn't stop. He just kept moving. It was at that moment that I realized I was going to make it to Maine. All I had to do was keep moving.
The other day, as I crossed the tablelands to the sign on the summit of Katahdin, I remembered that little inchworm. Seven months, 5 milllion steps. I made it. The biggest adventure of my life, the hardest thing I have ever done.
I could not have done it without the help of lots and lots of people. The people I hiked with - the amazing Sunshine Gang - who waited for me, the chronically slow old man, when it got dark and I had two miles to go. The trail magic offered by folks who left coolers of Coke at the trail head. The people who brought us home for the night and fed us and gave us a warm place to stay. The people who picked up the tab at the diner after I ate a "hiker burger". The folks who sent me cookies and brownies and letters.
Many, many folks contributed to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Midcoast Maine (and still can!) It is very gratifying to know that, as I was walking, these contributions were making a difference in some kids' lives. Thanks, too, to Debbie, my wife who supported me and held down the fort. Thanks, everyone, and thanks inchworm!