After 27 days of walking the length of Vermont over the Green Mountains, I arrived at the Canada Border on Saturday, October 3.
The days brought joy (mostly), a couple moments of doubt that I would finish, and time to reflect on the people I know whose lives have been affected by Parkinson’s Disease.
On my second to last day, the rain was relentless. I wiped out several times in the mud and on slippery rocks, pulling my quad muscle repeatedly. For the first time in 4 Long Trail thru-hikes I found myself standing in the trail in tears.
Lucky for me I had two strong and steady hiking partners trekking the last week with me. They were trained for these conditions from living in Juneau, Alaska for 30 years (where this summer they rarely saw the sun).
My brother, Kyle, and his friend Michelle, moved in like I was a valuable race car and they were the pit crew. My backpack was lifted from my shoulders, water bottles disappeared from the pack, lightening my load. I dropped my rain pants, exposing my injured thigh. Suddenly my wet leg was patted dry with a bandana. Next, a series of stick-on menthol pads were applied. Warm hands rubbed the menthol into action.
Pants pulled back up, composure regained, backpack back on, and I was ready for another round.
I had to keep my head down and watch for more slippery roots and potential mud slides under the thick leaf litter. To stay focused I called to mind every person—by name—I’ve ever known to live with Parkinson’s. I drew strength from them and walked through my pain.
We made it to Shooting Star Shelter, where I would spend my final night on the Trail, and hunkered down for the rainy afternoon.
The sky eventually cleared. Kyle and Michelle coaxed me from my tent to stand in the moonlight. To my surprise, Michelle had carried three tall cans of Vermont craft beer and hard cider (given to us by Trail Angel John Predom the day before) in her pack all day. How she did that when I couldn’t carry my own water bottles was beyond me.
We stood huddled in a group in the cold night air with Kyle and Michelle on either side of me, keeping me warm, and raised our glasses to one hell of a day and one hell of an incredible journey in honor of the Parkinson’s community.
We walked the final 5 miles to the Border in the morning where the classic Long Trail finish photo was taken, officially marking the end of Peaks For Parkinson’s 2020.
Thank you for all of the uplifting messages, Trail Magic, visits on the trail, and genuine encouragement and gratitude for my mission to raise awareness of Parkinson’s Disease.
While my hike was a wonderful experience and success, and I feel I inspired people to keep their bodies in motion, I have not reached my fundraising goal. If you can make a financial contribution, please do and help me get over the final peak.
Since I didn’t have much service on the Northern stretch of the trail, I’m going to write retro blog posts and share photos into early October. So, you’ll hear from me again. Until then, Cheers! to all of you and to all of the people we love whose lives have been affected by PD.
Jocelyn “Zuni Bear” Hebert and Kyle Hebert
Small celebration at the Border.
(L-R: “Trundler”, ”The Store”, “Walks Without Sticks”, and ”Zuni Bear”)