Taking this picture marked an important shift in the woman I thought I was. We had long since left behind the cool mists of Roncesvalles in southern France. The days had been so hot, a string of these early in my journey, nearing the mid nineties with little shade or shelter from the sun along the trail. Just a few lone trees and a long way to go before arriving in Los Arcos later that afternoon. I wasn’t sure yet how to deal with the heat. My tank top had white racing stripes from top to bottom, indicating a body losing a great deal of salt and hailing as I am from Minnesota, THE land of ice and snow, my internal thermostat was screaming, “What is going on here!?” Maria (my steadfast and ultra kind companion) and I stopped to rest in this just enough for the two of us, tiny patch of shade. My cheeks were flushed, and relief came when I removed the red pack and long- sleeve Columbia hiking shirt that was protecting my prone to freckles and sunburn, pale skin. After drinking a full, lemon-flavored Aquarius and then water, I laid down on the ground.
To my surprise, I felt amazing. Beautiful amazing. Accomplished amazing. Strong amazing. Yes, this may have had something to do with the fact that I was lying on my back and had stopped walking. But these were new feelings. A marked departure from the fearful and self-loathing creature I often had hanging around my psyche, always uninvited. I wanted to capture the moment with a picture. And not a perfect, try and get it right, hide this or that, kind of picture. No. Simply one to mark this day, this time when I was spent, but at the same time, jubilant and beginning to feel at home in my skin.