Um… What was I doing the last time I wrote you? Hold on… OH. I HAD BRONCHITIS and was still in Maine.
Now only one of those things is true. I will let you guess which one. Think about the fact that I’ve been sauntering through Maine for about 2 1/2 months….
Yes, alright. Still in Maine. Give it enough time, and I’ll be like that rail ticket. Faded. Holey. No teeth. In Maine.
You wish you could be up here. Best potatoes I’ve ever eaten, here in Aroostook county. Not even working on Ireland farms* have I eaten such potatoes.
Shortly after I was telling you about bronchitis, I got back on the trails and wandered north, then got picked up by Bill Duffy and a whole contingent of Mainers, who were on their way up to New Brunswick for the annual meeting of the North American chapters of the IAT.
The Mainers said, “Hey want to come north?”
and I said, “Ya foods and warm?”
so a great partnership was formed, and away we went northwards. There was much discussion. Good food. Huzzah. I am not going to do it justice, but it was incredible getting to watch the minds who have put this trail together just… work. It’s a heck of a lot of work, let me tell you.
One of the things that will be relevant for you, next year, is that the Maine/NewBrunswick/Quebec(?) sections of trail will be available on Guthooks, our friendly neighborhood trail app. (The Maine section is very flat compared to the AT, and would be a fun way to get from the Canadian border to the Katahdin area. Eating all the BEST potatoes. Only 100-something-odd miles, guyyyyyssss)
There was also a proposal for working with the International Dark Sky Association to make the IAT a Dark Sky designated trail system. I have been suborned into carrying a lightmeter, as we figure out what a Dark Sky designated trailway consists of. Quantitative pictures of darkness? Graaaaah. For science!
Then, after a weekend of connecting, discussing, and giving Sail foods, we rode back down the NB trail; and good Bill Duffy dropped me off in the woods; and I walked to the border.
I have walked 2700 miles, over hill and countryside, to the US border.
All the border patrol did was circle me with a helicopter a couple times, apologize for disturbing me at the IAT border shelter I stayed at, and wave happily as I walked along the road and waved at them; then US Customs bought me a coke as congratulations for walking successfully from the deep South to the border crossing at Fort Fairfield, and we sat and laughed and talked about beautiful country.
It is only that:
All I could think about, in the seven miles I was trudging over hills and around bog, along the border trail, was the migrants further south who are also walking north, to the US border.
On this walk, I’ve had folks come up and tell me I’m incredibly brave. And I was walking those last seven miles, and thinking about the fact that every step I have walked north to this border, I freely decided to walk. Without fear.
I have other options that don’t involve letting my family starve, or living afraid of violence; and I usually don’t mind being a vagrant. And y’all often come up and are like, “What you’re doing is very hard. It is incredible that you have done this.” Y’all… If you think I’m “courageous,” take a look at these folks.
Only, instead of a Coke, our administration plans to greet our caravan of uninvited neighbors with guns and barbed wire.
As a former teacher- if my students are watching me resolve a conflict, I’d rather have them watch me struggle to be a better person, than take the easy way out. Violencing people because we’re afraid is easy; it takes creativity and courage to think of ways not to, but it is also important that we try. Ugh, being human.
I don’t know how to resolve this in a way that respects and cares for all the people involved. All I’m really doing is walking my own trail all up in here, and being sad.
Whahaha actually, right now, I’m staying with a random couple (Amanda and Patrick), who have seventeen children and have named them all in alphabetical order. Someday, if I love you enough, I’ll tell you all their names.
One of them is Raphaelettina.
I guess what I’m actually saying is- I wish we would meet migrants with bread, and not guns.
*This is totally irrelevant to the current hike, folks, and only related to that Ireland asterisk… but if you wanted to travel and/or work on farms, and don’t have a lot of money, check out WWOOF (Worldwide Organization of Organic Farms). You work and get to travel. They get your hard labor and give you room and board. Very good for humans with limited resources.
Also, if you’re looking to get into outdoor jobs at an intro/ young person level, check out the Student Conservation Association.
Ver good, ver nice. Good luck!
P.P.S. Also, I totally lied to you. They only have one child, and her name is Zoey. That’s, like, reverse alphabetical order but really I was just making up stories to make life more interesting. Whoops.