July 17, 2020
Traveller story submitted by Melissa K!
According to my calculations, I’d given myself just enough time to make it around the flat eight kilometre or so loop before sundown. Earlier in the day, when paying for my park pass, I’d been given a map and told about the highlights of this trail in particular. It was a must-do for me.
As I grabbed the walking stick that had been left leaning by the placard at the entrance, I noticed what started to seem like streams of people leaving. I gave it little thought, and began my walk in. Whether it was the dirt beneath my shoes or a boardwalk to protect the vegetation, I thought about all the feet that had traveled here before me.
“Is this really a good idea, Melissa?” the questions started. I remember stopping for a moment contemplating the facts: the walk, the time, and being on my own. I decided that I would carry on until it didn’t feel right. Always surveying my surroundings and having noticed fewer and fewer people in sight, I turned around to see what looked like a couple quite a ways behind me.
About twenty minutes after I had set off, I decided to turn back.
As I crossed paths with the man and woman I had noticed, we exchanged smiles and they made a comment about me having turned around. I said that I’d decided to turn back because I wasn’t sure about doing the full loop on my own so close to dusk. They told me that they had thought I must have been a local to be walking alone and only with my walking stick. When I shared that I wasn’t, they asked if I wanted to join them and continue on; the woman was just a couple months pregnant, so I’d have to be ok with going at a slower pace at times.
I decided to accept their offer, and turned back around again. This time, together, in our small group. Over the next three hours, we talked, took photos of the landscape and wildlife, shared stories about our hikes and the Cabot Trail, and discovered that, despite being on the Nova Scotian coast, we called Toronto home.
Road-tripping by myself from Ontario through New Brunswick and on to Nova Scotia taught me a lot, but this moment in particular stands out in my memory. It is a reminder to know that I can trust myself. That I can begin, and change my mind, and change my mind again. And also, to be willing to trust others on the journey, too. When it feels right, of course.
There were a few decision points I faced that late afternoon in September. I could have decided not to begin walking the trail at all. I could have not engaged in conversation with the couple upon crossing paths. I could have decided not to take them up on the offer to walk with them. In these moments, I was able to tune into what was right for me, and I’m thankful to have been able to walk alongside them for those few hours we shared together.
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