Great Lakes Headwaters run: Resilience through Struggle

by: Shawna Weaver
13:07 Aug 30 2016 Jay Cooke State Park, Minnesota

Great Lakes Headwaters run: Resilience through Struggle
Why should we work towards a Great Lakes Commons and how ?
This is one story from my nine day adventure across the Superior Hiking Trail, which I completed in August 2015. I ran the 300 mile trail to collect stories from people living along the lake: people who know the area well and have become experts in sustaining life and livelihoods here in the Great Lakes headwaters.The stories will continue unfolding throughout the next several months as I continue to reflect on and share my journey. See the links below for more information.

After eight days on the Superior Hiking Trail, Day nine was the final stretch from Duluth to Jay Cooke State Park. My journey so far had been remarkably easier than I had imagined. Before I started, I anticipated injuries, emotional break-downs, and maybe even quitting. I assumed the worst was a likely outcome, and prepared for such. In reality, the worst that happened were the blisters on my feet. While they were awful and almost intolerable, and slowed my pace, they were just blisters. Each morning they would heal just enough for me to tolerate them another day.

What I had not prepared for was so much community support. People really joined in the journey, making it their own and ours together.
On day nine, these realizations struck me as reminders that while the worst outcome is always a possibility, so is the best outcome. And, that people are hard-wired to join in and help the best possibilities come to fruition. Whether in the success, or in the pain, or any unknown result, people really do want to share.

Day nine was a slow and painful experience. I shared it with Sydney Johnston, who gave up a day of work to support me through what she knew might be the most difficult miles. Halfway through the day, Ben Weaver joined, who as a fellow journeyer knew the emotional whirlwind awaiting the end of a long adventure. My dad came along for the last three miles.

Then at the end of the trail, several friends and family members were gathered to celebrate our homecoming. What I thought would be a long and lonely battle was instead a challenge shared by many. What I thought could end in pain ended instead in shared solidarity.

As we look forward to the many hardships in healing the land and saving the water, we know the worst possibilities. We imagine them each day as we work against them. Hopefully we also accept the help and hope around us, and let others lighten the load enough for us to bear it and continue onward.
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