Skip to content

End of the Road

Okay, it isn’t quite the end. I still have five more days to walk the Natchez Trace. Eighty-four miles. It’s not the end of the road.

But.

Friday marked an end of sorts. It was probably the last day I walked 15 miles alone. After day-after-day-after-day of birds, of cars, of the whisper of leaves and the cackle of squirrels, of the noise of my own mind……after thinking I would never be through the swamps of Mississippi…..that I would not endure the climb into Tennessee……..here I am.

Near the end.

I took my time on Friday. Dragged it out. I climbed down to a creek and listened to the water run over rock. I walked through the remains of a muddy cornfield to stand in another field of daffodils. I marveled at an abandoned hornets nest, high up in a tree. I relished every sound, every nuance I could only glean by walking.

At every bend in the tarmac, I listened. I watched. I breathed.

Meriwether Lewis traveled the trail I’m on. He saw the same natural cairn of rock. Heard the call of the crow. Maybe he walked his horse up the same big hill I climbed. Whatever the state of his mind as he approached Grinder’s Stand, I hope he saw the world the way I did yesterday. Light and shadow. Earth and water.

A gorgeous place.

When we take the time to look.

Click here to see the best photos from Day 28 of my Natchez Trace 444-mile walk: Andra Watkins Tumblr

You’ve got more than 2 weeks, so keep entering the To Live Forever Journey to Charleston Contest. Tweet, Facebook, type and review your way to Charleston, South Carolina in the To Live Forever Journey to Charleston Contest. The more you enter, the better your chance to WIN. Click here to find out more: Support My Aching Feet.

Beat me to the finish line. Read the book before I’m done walking. To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis is available in paperback and e-book formats at these outlets: Click to Purchase To Live Forever.

Today’s Reader Question. I was too delirious to get the mileage right, and I didn’t do a retake.

60 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sounds as if this might have been the most incredible, BEST day yet; and: http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=John-Crawford&lc=6724&pid=170406625&mid=5910497

    These last few miles are simply some of the icing on the cake!! 🙂

    March 29, 2014
    • These last few miles are possibly the roughest, though. Lots of big hills to climb. I don’t like to drive the road in advance of walking it, but yesterday I had to. Big hill tomorrow.

      March 29, 2014
  2. You just gave MTM an idea! LOL! Having gone on a walk yesterday afternoon, I felt the light and shadow, earth and water – in a different part of the country. It’s absolutely wonderful to engage the senses in the outdoors and take the time to embrace it. You’re almost there, Andra, keep walking!

    March 29, 2014
    • Thanks, Mary. Glad you had your own experience with the outdoors……and I hope you weren’t freezing.

      March 29, 2014
      • No freezing. This weekend is in the 40’s and 50’s…like summer considering the winter we’ve had.

        March 29, 2014
  3. We promise to walk quietly . . . at least part of the time. 😉

    March 29, 2014
    • You’d better not be quiet. 🙂 I am counting on some awesome conversation.

      March 29, 2014
  4. That was NOT the right link — sorry — means something to me and several others, but was an OOPS here. Should have been this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljdAYTH5QSY&feature=kp

    March 29, 2014
  5. it’s my loss that i’ve not been tagging along for this natchez-trace walk! i’m there in spirit and look forward to retracing your steps!
    z

    March 29, 2014
  6. Andra, I wish you all the best in these last few days. I did enjoy the book and told my friends about it on FB. Be well! 🙂

    March 29, 2014
    • Thanks, Carolyn. Every mention helps this book find an audience. It means a lot to me.

      March 29, 2014
  7. I’m glad you’ll have company. But more than that, I’m glad you’ll be the first person to have walked the Natchez Trace!

    March 29, 2014
    • I have great respect for the boatmen, the Kaintucks who did this way back when, sometimes year after year.

      March 29, 2014
  8. Very similar thoughts this morning, but I’m not walking. (Well, I did walk up to the road and get the paper.) The birds seemed really happy this morning.

    March 29, 2014
  9. tarakianwarrior #

    Awesomesauce! You now will have company and it does my heart good knowing that you embrace it all. You wrap your arms around your journey and squeeze every bit of life out of it.

    March 29, 2014
    • I plan to do just that, Lori. Every bit of this has been precious.

      March 29, 2014
  10. Never had any doubt you would finish this entire thing – not in your nature to quit or give up – but I am still impressed. Such an inspiring friend.

    March 29, 2014
    • I had my doubts. Several times. This has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but the hardest things are the things that are worth doing. They help us wring the most out of life.

      March 29, 2014
    • I agree with you Carnell!

      March 30, 2014
  11. omtatjuan #

    I’ve google earthed where you are… Nice! Lucky you!

    March 29, 2014
    • The Tennessee Trace is really pretty, Juan.

      March 29, 2014
      • omtatjuan #

        I followed as best I could thru Google Earth.. Too bad you somehow didn’t incorporate that tool in your walk.. If you ever head to Oregon via the Oregon Trail use this excellent tool:) but what do I know!

        March 29, 2014
      • The map links to where I am are actually embedded into my calendar. Somewhere along the way, I think they got broken, but initially, they worked.

        March 29, 2014
      • There are actually a number of things I’ll do differently if I ever do something like this again, but they will all require more staff than I’ve had this time around. 🙂 For this, it’s just been MTM, Rowe and me.

        March 29, 2014
  12. Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze
    Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please
    Well it’s all right, even if the sun don’t shine
    Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line

    The Traveling Wilburys

    March 29, 2014
  13. Reblogged this on The Quotidian Hudson and commented:
    “Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze
    Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please
    Well it’s all right, even if the sun don’t shine
    Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line”

    The Traveling Wilburys

    March 29, 2014
    • Thanks for the reblog, Robert. You’ve got more than double the shares of anyone else right now.

      March 29, 2014
  14. To the person who stated that you are the first person to have walked the Natchez Trace, I suggest a history lesson, perhaps? Not trying to be mean or sarcastic, just the hilarity of the comment struck me!

    What marathon will you try next?

    March 29, 2014
  15. You are soooooo close. Warrior!

    March 29, 2014
    • It’s bittersweet………just like Merry said life could be.

      March 29, 2014
      • That’s how I felt as Dec 31st rolled in. I wondered what next?

        March 29, 2014
  16. “I relished every sound, every nuance I could only glean by walking. At every bend in the tarmac, I listened. I watched. I breathed.” Very nice. So often we DON”T see those things, and miss out on the wonder of the world. And then the bittersweet of the approaching finish; relief and regret mixed into a Gordian knot of emotion.
    You go girl!

    March 29, 2014
    • It really is a mix of relief and regret, Jeff. I’m sure that will only intensify as the remaining days roll by.

      March 29, 2014
  17. What Michael Carnell said. You rock. You are an inspiration. Sure, you’ve had your bad days. But if you had quit, for the rest of your life, you would wonder if you could have made it. Now, you won’t have to wonder.
    Personal anecdote (which pales in comparison to the Natchez Trace walk): My husband (before he was my husband) and I were backpacking in Los Padres National Forest in CA. My first time backpacking with him, and I was struggling. The weight of the pack. The heat. The fact that my right leg has a disability so I stumbled a lot. And then my left knee went out. At one point I fell backwards like a turtle because of the f**king backpack. I was in pain. Greg said, “We’re about halfway there. If you want to turn back, we need to do it now. We’ll do what you want to do.” I knew he meant it, that as much as he wanted to camp among the lupines, he would turn back for me. But I figured, if I was going to experience the same pain and frustration going back, then I may as well go forward and at least achieve the goal of this trip. I grumbled that since we were already halfway there, we should move on. My reward was the most perfect campsite, complete with a running stream of cool water, tall trees for shelter and a great expanse of sky. Unfortunately, it had been a dry spring so the lupine weren’t in bloom, but you can’t have everything 🙂

    March 29, 2014
    • That’s exactly how I would’ve felt about it, Marie. Why give up the experience when it will hurt either way?

      March 29, 2014
  18. Ladies and gentlemen, Joe Cocker has entered the building…

    March 29, 2014
  19. What a beautiful last day alone. There is bittersweetness in giving up that alone time and also in welcoming great friends. Each day, but especially from here to the end, will have it’s own special moments. Continue to take your time and enjoy every bit of it, even the sore feet. I’m betting uphill is going to be harder for your blogging buddies than it will for you at this point.

    March 29, 2014
    • I hope there’s not a lot of uphill in the miles they choose to walk with me, Lisa. I’m so lucky that a few people have taken the time to join me for some of this journey.

      March 29, 2014
  20. Amazing Andra! Inspiration isn’t a strong enough word. Now I need to get a hat to wear to bed, but my wife would probably hide it so that could never happen.

    March 29, 2014
  21. wow, it is all so real and you are coming to the end, which means you will have done this huge thing you’ve set to do. mind-boggling ) b

    March 29, 2014
  22. Liesl #

    Your reply to the hat question had me laughing out loud! Thank you!!!

    March 29, 2014
  23. Good for you for taking the time to cross the road, Andra; to capture the daffodils, listen to water music, even with your aching bones and feet (and toes and toenails, and . . . ) – and still have the grace to answer questions with a wink and a smile.

    March 29, 2014
  24. Hmmm. You know, as amazing as this whole Trace thing has been, I think your trip story needs a bit more spice to it in order to get that younger male demographic reading your book and following your adventures.

    May I suggest a stopover in a small town whereupon you’re kicked out, then jailed by a dopey lawman with a bias against weary travelers just wanting to pass through his sleepy nabe?

    This can be followed by an escape into the deep woods, some National Guard troops and pissed off cops coming after you, a firefight and some other action-heavy antics that by the end make you a heroine to many more loyal fans? And just THINK of how awesome the movie version will be!

    No? Well, fine then. I guess your poor feet would kill you if you had to do even MORE running, jumping climbing and kicking people in the head parts, huh?

    Well, it was only an idea…

    March 29, 2014
  25. I think this is a wonderful post. I’m sorry to be a little late to read it. Life does that sometimes. 🙂 But I have been so impressed with what you are not only taking from the walk, Andra, but also what I believe you are leaving there of yourself. It’s very moving.

    March 31, 2014

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 3-29-14 Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life (A Water View) | The Quotidian Hudson
  2. An Open Letter to Andra’s Feet | the ramblings
  3. monthly challenges recap: March edition | my year[s] of sweat!

Talk Amongst Ourselves

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: