And we shared right back. Age doesn’t necessarily bring wisdom - I was just as anxious about the election as the girls were.
One conversation I remember very clearly came over lunch. We had dug the bear cans out of our packs, distributed summer sausage, cheese, bagels, and trail mix around. And I was sitting with two of the girls on a shallow rock that edged the creek where we’d paused to eat. Betty suddenly said, “You know, this would never have happened at home.”
I laughed. “You don’t eat sausage in the woods at home?”
But she and Erikka explained that at school, in the college prep program they’re taking, the school counselors and mentors make appointments with them to talk over progress, feelings, and worries. The girls said the counselors don’t feel genuinely interested in them as people, so they avoid meeting the counselors whenever possible. “But here,” she said, “I feel like I’ve known you forever and I want to talk to you about stuff that worries me.”
There’s something about carrying all your food, shelter, and supplies on your back, in a single file line, through a part of the country you didn’t know existed. It’s a dig-deep something, a strength and resolve you didn’t realize you had, and a compassion for your fellow traveler that you may have felt before in bursts but is now a steady, welling thought of looking out for their best interests.