On the way back, we passed lines of white Nordic touques on the sidewalks. They were still walking on a very cold night in southwestern Ontario as our rest stop was merely the halfway point for those rugged souls doing the 10 km walk.
For these people, the walk was not over once they left the rest stop. They still had the same distance to go back that they'd had to get there. Five more kilometeres. Translated to three miles in the U.S. and other countries. Altogether 10 km - or six miles.
A long walk on a cold night in winter. Especially as it gets colder and more frightening out there once the sun sets. Snow that had thawed a bit under the sun, had refrozen and made the sidewalks icier and more challenging to navigate.
I wondered how these walkers felt on their way back in the dark. But I never stopped to ask. Unlike the homeless, these people were in groups so there was comraderie among them. I spoke with a friend who had been involved in the 5km walk last year about the walk. She said that there was a good vibe among the walkers. A sense of doing something. Together. A sense of purpose.
Another difference between the walkers and the homeless is that these walkers had a destination in mind. The end. The homeless? Probably not.
The walkers had a warm meal waiting for them at the end. Also a warm room filled with other like-minded people either those volunteering to make and serve the meal or those in-coming from the walk.
After I arrived at the Ray of Hope community centre, I stayed for about an hour observing, taking a few more pictures, socializing and enjoying a bowl of soup and a cup of hot chocolate. Even as I left, people were still streaming in after completing the walk.
My daughter and her youth group had done the 5 km walk and had been there earlier. I missed them but I did run into another friend from a different church group also there with her youth group.
There were also a couple of other "shutter bugs" there to record the event as well as a videographer.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So below are my "thousand words" without any more commentary.