That's right! It actually gets easier, the farther you go.
Today was the first and only of the three days that I walked alone for the whole day, so I had plenty of time to feel reflective, to think about what I was doing and why, to think about the people and animals I've known and loved, to remember the times Nicole and I visited Farm Sanctuary, and to smile while thinking about the people who supported (and/or came along for parts of) the three-day walk.
About an hour into today's part of the walk, the ample shoulder began dwindling, so I hiked the two miles back to my car at today's Warminster starting point, choosing to instead drive six miles through Buckingham Township before resuming my journey on foot (with the plan to make up those miles upon arrival in New Hope).
Thus began the second part of my walk today: Seven miles along Routes 263 and 202 (for those of you who might worry, Route 202 is much saner up that way, and there's both a wide shoulder and lots of flat space beyond the road).
It was during this stretch that I spent some time thinking about Peace Pilgrim, the woman who spent decades walking back and forth across the country preaching nonviolence and compassion to any and all who would listen. One of my favorite quotes from her is about inner peace: "It means always being surrounded by all of the good things." It might sound strange, but after walking as she did (if only for three days), I feel like I've discovered the connection between walking, enlightenment, and service she no doubt enjoyed.
What went well
Just about everything! I enjoyed planning, training for, and promoting the fundraising walk for nine months; I appreciate all of the generous donations and wishes of support; and I've found the actual walk, its logistics, and even the aches and pains, challenging and enriching. My favorite times were those when I wasn't alone—so thank you again, Nelly, Rebecca, Eric, Royer, and Mom. Your donations worked together to reach 84% of the original $2,000 fundraising goal before the walk was over, an amazing sum that will help Farm Sanctuary continue its amazing work.
Besides walking, what else was fun? Well, the breaks. I stopped regularly, to stretch, to eat a Larabar (yes, I enjoyed the irony of stocking my orange hunter's vest with Larabars instead of bullets), and to look around. The biggest surprise? Learning to enjoy my nemesis, The Wind. On Day 1, it kept me from overheating.
What I'd change
There's great satisfaction in exceeding the calculated number of hours and miles for the journey—Google Maps says 32.1 walking miles straight from the Liberty Bell up to New Hope (10 hours, 46 minutes), and I logged about 37 miles over 14.5 hours, with breaks. But if I do make another pilgrimage, or plan a similar fundraiser in the future, I'll want to take a contiguous route where I can pick up exactly where I left off each day (and not have to "make up" for areas without sidewalks by looping throughs town to reach the goal mileage).
Thanks again, Everyone. Happy World Vegan Day!
It's not too late to donate! The FirstGiving donation page will remain open through the holiday season; if you're a friend or family member, please make a donation for this cause in lieu of any gifts for me this year. If just 11 of you will support Farm Sanctuary with a $20 gift, we'll reach our $2,000 goal! Please visit my fundraising page to make a secure donation if you haven't yet had the chance to do so.