Tenny and Claire formed their friendship in the snowy North Carolina mountains while hiking the Appalachian Trail. Over the next 2,000+ miles, there was more than enough time to discover a shared love of adventure in the outdoors, a belief in the value of people and community, and a mission to positively impact the world. Following their completion of the Appalachian Trail in 2013, they continued to organize their lives around their passion for walking, and long-distance hiking in particular. Many cultures incorporate a tradition of pilgrimage, and in Tenny and Claire’s experience, hiking serves as a peaceful, purposeful and often radical mechanism for personal transformation.
Increasingly, however, they felt frustrated by the inward focus of their walking. None of us function in this world alone, and we are all reliant on our communities, just as our communities are reliant on us. We are not isolated from the events of our world or removed from their effects, and therefore must participate in a cooperative existence. Out of this desire to connect their personal to the shared, Tenny and Claire asked the question: Can we use the momentum generated through long-distance hiking to facilitate positive engagement with our communities?
With that aim in mind, Tenny and Claire hope to hike the length of the US/Mexico border, starting in International Friendship Park in San Diego and ending at the Boca Chica State Park in Brownsville. The border between the United States and Mexico crosses through four states, several large cities, countless small towns, a major national park, and a native reservation. Over half of it follows the contours of the Rio Grande, a significant waterway that both the Americans and Mexicans living alongside it rely on for irrigation and commerce. Contrary to many perceptions, this is an area full of people and communities and organizations that work to preserve and promote vibrant and sustainable life along the border. By visiting these communities and exploring on foot, Tenny and Claire hope to bear witness to these efforts.
Documenting their experiences through photography and art, blogging, research and volunteer work, they hope to create connections, both for themselves and for whomever chooses to engage with this project. We’re all just human beings, seeking mostly the same things out of life, while sharing this planet. By walking, Tenny and Claire commit to this belief that we are all a part of the same community.