It has been one month since Cariboose (Tam) and I (Travis aka Bear Bait) finished our 272 mile trek on the Long Trail in Vermont, starting at the Canadian border and walking south to the Massachusetts State line, and into North Adams, Mass. where we celebrated our journeys end. My feet still ache every morning, but not to the degree they did while hiking 8-9 hours, days on end, over roots, and rocks, always wondering where the "footpath" was that we were promised from the map describing the The Long Trail "A Footpath in the Wilderness". This mostly served as a funny joke that we laughed over several times.
This trip was journey of friendship, pain, love, challenge, tears, laughter and an opportunity to not take our everyday comforts for granted. I also had the opportunity to have Cariboose describe for me, scene by scene, script included, Rocky I-V for I've never seen any of them, and she is a devote fan. This ate up an entire day, and few weeks later, I secretly wanted her to tell it to me again.
Tam has always loved an underdog story. Doesn't matter what the sport is, if there is a marginalized, oppressed, or evidently weaker character that beats all odds, Tam is there in the front row. And one could say our journey on the Long Trail was an underdog story too.
Being in the woods we were finally both free from navigating restrooms, stares, peoples ignorance and fear. At least for the most part. We had a few encounters that left us reeling and saying "did that really just happen?". While I generally don't feel safe in a public restrooms anywhere, I always feel safe with Tam. I would not have been able to finish (or start) this trail without her. And she was the courage behind this journey.
While keeping a blog of her thru-hike on the Long Trail, she ran a fundraiser effort which benefited The Venture Out Project. Tam raised a whopping $1791! This money will go towards scholarships for our Queer Youth Backpacking trip next summer.
Tam has been dedicated to queer youth for several years, through being an Adult Adviser for BAGLY (Boston Alliance Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Youth) and working with The Theaters Offensives' queer youth group True Colors. Because of Tam, queer youth who might not otherwise be able to attend a backpacking trip, will be able to. Last summer, we had several queer youth utilize our scholarships to join us on our backpacking trip. Witnessing the transformation of what these youth think they can do is truly inspiring.
We want to thank Tam with our deepest gratitude for her dedication to queer youth & backpacking and for sharing her fundraising efforts with us. Tam's fundraising page is still open if you'd like to contribute to the Queer Youth Backpacking trip: August 6-11. 2017. And be sure to read the blog! It was an amazing adventure, and Tam captured it so eloquently.
THANK YOU CARIBOOSE!