After yesterday’s hot weather that had so many walkers finding water at new, makeshift stops, this morning’s mood was calm with a hint of satisfaction. I moved through camp as I have for the last few days, somewhere between a visitor and a photographer. My position in relation to the walkers is one of allowance. They permit me there, possibly so they can get a photograph in the slideshows or possibly because they want to feel like someone from the “outside” has seen them amid hundreds of others, someone unique in a sea of so many similar stories. But of course, they are unique, and the uniqueness of each story — every one — is overwhelming to someone who is invited to listen to them and watch their movement of 60 miles by foot over three days.
I am grateful for it, and admittedly, we are both exposed. The walkers to the elements, to each other, and most difficult sometimes, to the camera. I find myself exposed as well. I wear the dark grays and blacks of a staff member; they wear pinks. I am a man; a large percentage of them are women. I am not often walking with them; they are pushing up hills in 95 degree weather. I stand out and I am identified by most on Day 3 as a photographer. There is no hiding. My movement around their tents, around the only sacred space for three days, leaves me careful with the camera and whom I approach. It’s a delicate balance with those who want to talk more this morning and those who are quiet, and anticipating the long journey into the heart of Boston, the final destination of this powerful movement of people.