I walked to the end of the earth and then a little more, following the way marked with yellow arrows and seashells. It guided me from southern France, through the Pyrenees, along the north of Spain, and ultimately to the Atlantic coast.

Though I set out alone I felt surprisingly well equipped. I packed according to checklists online with gear including hiking boots, a poncho for rain, and an emergency blanket.

At the end of the first day I ditched the boots. Later the poncho faced the same fate, and even though I hung onto the emergency blanket, it remained unused 31 days later.

As I took to the trail each day I discovered one of the most valuable things was never mentioned on the checklists—the people walking the same way.

Including them is weightless but you do need to leave space. Like myself, many walkers see The Way as a moment of purposeful solitude or a time to meditate over something…alone.

Photo credit: Stephen Milling
Ironically, this crowd of soloists fits perfectly together. I immediately formed a community of Italians, Canadians, a Latvian, a Slovakian, Portuguese, Brazilians, Spanish, Germans, an Argentinian, a Russian, and even my fellow Americans.

Sometimes they just passed long enough to point me back on the path when I went astray. Other times they offered water on a long stretch without fountains. Mostly, they kept me company kilometer after kilometer.

Not all of us began at the same point and sometimes we had different end points. Yet we found ourselves together, walking the same way. Going 900 kilometers alongside them filled more than just the memory card on my camera. They filled my heart.

Thank you for joining me on the way.

Below are some members of my community along the way. More photos from the journey can be accessed here.