I received an email last week from the Sawyer Free Library here in Gloucester, announcing a woman named Wendy Johnston, who hiked all 2,700 miles of The Pacific Crest Trail, would be giving a presentation on her adventures at 2:00pm on a Saturday. I immediately made a date with one of my besties, Heather, to go. We love hiking, and nature; this was right up our trail (get it? Get it? Instead of “right up our alley?”…I know, that was lame).
Despite a hangover thanks to my friend Kim’s birthday celebrations the previous evening, I rallied, and met Heather at the library. I half-emptied a big purse of mine so we could smuggle our coffees in. The presentation had just started, so we quietly crept to the back. It was full, only a few empty chairs sprinkled throughout the room. There were some chairs stacked in a corner which Heather was able to quietly and gracefully pull from the stack: I would have made a hell of a noise and knocked the whole thing over had I attempted this, which Heather knew.
Wendy talked for half an hour about her reason for undertaking her adventure, followed by a slideshow of absolutely stunning photographs, set to music. Several people commented on how well her choice of music gelled with the pictures.
A Q&A session followed. First, I must add that the older woman in front of me backed her chair up practically into me for most of the presentation, effectively cutting off my personal space – I guess she didn’t realize there was someone behind her? I didn’t have much room to back my own chair up, as being in the last row, I needed to keep space for people to walk between me and the wall. I should have asked her to scoot up, but didn’t want to be like the rude whispering people who were standing against the wall behind us. They were oblivious to the shut-up stares being thrown their way by various audience members. WHY do people think that whispering is NOT disruptive?
When everyone’s questions had been answered – including mine, which someone else had asked – Wendy went through 6 pairs of sneakers on her hike – I turned to Heather and asked, “Would it be weird if I asked for her autograph?” To which Heather replied, “Go for it!”
We went up and got into the short line of well-wishers. I handed Wendy a pen and envelope I had dug out of my bag, and asked for her autograph – she was shocked! “Do people ask that?” I said. She told me that sometimes she’s asked to sign the calendars of photographs she has made. After scribbling her name, she someday sheepishly handed me back my pen and envelope, saying, “That’s so bad! I need to work on my signature!” I assured her that it was fine. We hugged, and then Heather and I bought some calendars Wendy had for sale.
Later that night, I jumped on Wendy’s blog, movingtowardsfreedom.com….and there was a post about me! “to the sweet woman who asked for my autograph today.” Wendy asked for my name and address and apologized for not writing a nice note, leaving her email so I could contact her.
I, in turn, was flattered and happy that I had made her happy. We ended up chatting through Facebook messenger.
I will leave you, dear reader, to learn about Wendy’s 5 month journey up the Pacific Crest Trail, from the border or Mexico to the border of Canada. Visit movingtowardsfreedom.com. She also has free upcoming presentations at various libraries around Eastern Massachusetts:
North Andover Public Library, Sunday January 11, 2-3:30 pm
Norwell Public Library, Tuesday January 13, 6-7:30pm
Pepperell Public Library, Thursday January 15, 6:30-8pm
Framingham Public Library, Thursday January 22, 7-8:30pm
Andover Public Library, Thursday January 29, 7-8:30pm
I also urge you to check out her Etsy shop, where you can purchase her photographs and homemade jewelry:
I do not know if I will ever undertake a hike as ambitious as Wendy’s; however, her message of following your heart, and feeling at peace and grounded in nature, resonates with me, and I’m sure you will find her inspiring as well.
Happy Trails To You 🙂