June 09 2006
The End of the WalkOn June 7th, 6:45pm, Bobby and I arrived at Cape Spear, the eastern most point in North America. One year and 5 months, 20 pairs of shoes (combined), 7953 kilometers of travelling by foot, from one side of the country to the other, the walk across Canada has ended.
The final days of the walk were enjoyed as if they were the first days. We no longer felt the weight of our backpacks or thought of the pains in our bodies. Nothing mattered... it could rain all day and we'd be soaked to the bone... but hey... it doesn't mater because in a few days we'll be in a house wearing clean clothes, we'll be freshly showered, and we'll have walked across Canada.
5 days before our arrival at Cape Spear my parents and my younger brother Alex flew out to St. John's and rented a car. They drove 200 kilometers into Newfoundland and met up with us to walk the final few days. While someone would drive the car ahead to the next road access, the other two would walk along with us... We were sure grateful for the company my family provided. Good food too.
Our large animal sightings were completed with a black bear walking along the trail. What luck to see a bear with only a few days left on the trip. We encountered it just before crossing onto the Avalon Peninsula (where no bear dares enter).
Late afternoon on the 7th we approached the final stretch to Cape Spear. The hills would have been very tiring after a 50 kilometer day but they seemed to melt away with each step. Starting in Victoria each step meant so little, but now each step was a mammoth leap towards the end. During the final kilometer we sang original 80's glory rock and played ripping guitar solos on our trekking poles. We were very excited.
We've spent so much time on this walk purposely not thinking about Cape Spear (the "Unimaginable End of the Earth"). When we finally arrived on the point of the barren peninsula it was a little surreal. We didn't know where to go and felt disoriented. When we found the official "Eastern Most Point in North America" we celebrated by spraying champagne on each other while my parents watched, laughed, and congratulated us. I was very glad to have them there... it felt more like a party with them there... I can't imagine what it would have been like if Bobby and I were the only ones out there when we finished the walk... probably not as exciting or as festive.
With a British Columbia flag and the two Newfoundland flags we climbed past the "Do Not Proceed Beyond This Point" sign and onto the rocks below. We couldn't come this far and not go to the edge. We dipped our feet in Atlantic water then started our ascent back to the trail. A security guy on a megaphoned beckoned us to return to the trail. Two guys were swept off the rocks last year... We used our judgment and decided that there was no danger at that time to climb down... I'm glad we did.
We are now in St. John's in a nice little house overlooking the harbour. My family has returned home, and we too will be heading west to British Columbia on the 13th.
What are we going to do now that we've finished walking across Canada? We both have jobs at summer camp waiting for us at home, and anything beyond that is a mystery.
A life lesson: We don't know where we're going until we are there... unless you're walking across Canada... then you'll be going to Cape Spear.
May 29 2006
Camp Fires and Chance MeetingsNewfoundland continues to be beautiful. The trail is well maintained and pretty much complete. Most of our walking has been on the old rail bed. We've seen lots of Moose and Caribou along the way, and we've met lots of nice people.
When we arrived in Corner Brook, we headed to the movie theater to inquire about a matinee (when we get into towns we like to be indoors and sitting down). We met a nice lady named Linda who gave us free passes to the 6 o'clock show. We loitered around until the movie, then had to find a place to setup our tent. We ventured up a hill and found what I believe to be the worst camping spot ever. In a small clump of weedy bushes and garbage we setup the tent for the night. I was very glad in the morning to evacuate the location. We took the dreary/rainy morning off and loitered at a box store complex. Not exactly a pleasant place, but impersonal enough to let us hang out - no questions asked. The rain didn't let up so we got soaked as we walked out of the mountains.
A few days later we arrived in the Topsail region. A rolling tundra-esque area with lichens and mosses growing on the granite rocks. The route is quite far from the highway so we didn't expect to see anybody along the way. We ended up running into Floyd and Betty who invited us into their comfy cabin. We spent the night there talking and learning about Newfoundland.
We've been having lots of camp fires. It's really nice sit around and reflect on the day. It's social time for us, as we are usually in the tent sleeping. A few days ago I was thinking how lucky we were not to have any bug problems and I decided to make a point of it on the website. Alas... I can no longer make this claim. Yesterday we were bombarded by mosquitoes and black flies. I have upwards of 10 bites on my right shoulder (this area was dubbed "Mosquito Meat" by Bobby).
An amazing thing: As we were finishing our day of walking we stumbled upon a "Warm-Up Hut". This is a one-room cabin built by trail members for winter recreationalists. We wanted to check it out to see if it was nice to sleep in. Inside we met Huang, a 53 year old man from Taiwan/Vancouver. He was extremely happy to met us, and vice-verca. He is walking across Canada via the Trans Canada Trail. He started in the west coast and walked to Calgary, but stopped there due to lack of any guide book or developed trail. He took some time off and then flew to St. John's to begin his eastward trek. 14 days from the Atlantic coast brought him to this warm up hut. We spent the night chatting about our experiences and exchanging information. We parted in the morning, Huang heading west and us heading east. It was almost sickening to think of all he has ahead of him. I'm very glad to be near the end of the trip.
We are now in Gander, it was a beautiful sunny day, but just moments ago the rain and hail started pelting the library roof.
May 17 2006
First Days on the New Found LandThe first day on Newfoundland was no short of spectacular. The trail followed the coast line past some amazing scenery. Flat mountains to our right and the Atlantic to our left. We couldn't get very far because we were constantly stopping to take footage of the area. The sun was out and we were pretty impressed with what we'd seen of Newfoundland. We had a bean dinner on a beach then slept on a pile of moss.
The next day we headed away from the ocean into a valley. The trail followed high above a large river. We took a few swims along the way. It was very refreshing. A few of the bridges had fallen down, so we had to do some river crossings. One river was a little strong & deep, so it was a good thing we had our trekking poles for stability. Drinking water has been very easy to find and were are keeping well hydrated.
It's raining today but that could be a good thing because we are a little burnt from all the sun. We plaster our selves with 45 SPF sunscreen but we still end up burnt.
May 13 2006
PEI to Nova Scotia to NewfoundlandAfter the "Atlantic Tragedy" we continued along the east coast of New Brunswick. Two or three days later (I can't remember, it's been so long since the last journal update) we arrived at the Confederation Bridge. The shuttle bus picks up foot passengers 4 kilometers from the bridge and shuttles them to the the Prince Edward side. We're fairly fickle about the ground we cover, so we walked the 4 kms to the ocean, then walked back another 4kms to be picked up by the shuttle and driven over the billion dollar bridge. We had to do the same thing on the other side (although it was only 1 km or so).
The Red Earth of Prince Edward Island! Our 2nd Maritime province. We studied our free map and plotted our course across the island. The only planned stop was to visit Bobby's uncle on Point Prim. One thing I didn't expect for this small island was the same amount of hospitality one would expect for a full sized big province. We met so many nice people on our way to Bobby's uncle's place. One couple asked if we were coming from far, then said that we must be going to see Uncle Mike Slana. They invited us in for lunch and a drink. The next day a lady stopped her car and said she had seen us in New Brunswick. She invited us in for lunch too. Later that day a girl came running onto the road and asked us if we wanted to come in for a drink. For the next hour or so we hung out with her and her friends while talking about life and the Island. We finally made it to Bobby's uncle's where we crashed and spent 2 great days hanging out with horses, eating really good food, and watching hockey.
PEI was good to us, but we needed to continue east. We caught the Wood Island Ferry to Nova Scotia: Our 3rd Atlantic Province!
Upon arrival in Nova Scotia it started to rain. We looked over another free map while seeking refuge at the ferry terminal. That night we made it to Pictou. We camped behind a Sobey's (grocery store) and ate chips + salsa in the tent. The next day we were taking a break, throwing our poles into the ground like spears and making sound effects. This activity sparked our imaginations and Kung Cookie was born. A few kilometers and a brain storm later we started filming our kung fu movie. We spent so much time on the short video that a lot of the walking day was used up and we only made it around 25 kilometers. We took a nice dip in a small warm river too... that was nice.
Sometime around now Bobby started developing a nasty friction burn on his back. It didn't stop him from walking but cause some discomfort. His body adapted and it eventually went away. Strange and amazing thing, the body. We pushed a 50 kilometer day along this stretch to Cape Breton. I'm not sure why we decided it would be a good idea to walk 50 KMS, but it wasn't. That night we slept at an Irving gas station (courtesy of Joe Jellow). I think our legs hurt too much to appreciate being inside. A restless sleep to say the least.
Entering into Cape Breton! Across the Canso Causeway. We walked 9 KMS to Port Hawksbury to use computers at the library. It was a high school library and it was cool that they let us use the computers during school hours. The librarian started talking to us and asked us if we would talk to some of the classes. We talked to a History and Science Humain french class. A teacher there invited us over for dinner too. A delicious veggie pizza was consumed at his house, with his wife and 4 kids. The invitation was extended into a sleep over. We had a very nice night and breakfast in the morning. Thanks Claude, Nicole and kids!
From there we headed to St. Peters and walked along the ocean and eventually started skirting along the Bras D'Or Lake: A huge salt water lake taking up the center of Cape Breton. This route led us to Sydney River where we met Wayne Conrad who had been helping us out by getting us free ferry passes. He also made us some great sandwiches! Thanks Wayne. That night we slept at our camp friend Shannon's house. We had a very comfortable stay there thanks to her brother Ian.
The next morning Bobby went upstairs to get some breakfast. He came back downstairs with the Cape Breton Post and showed it to me. A huge colour picture of us walking took up most of the front cover. Hilarious. A reporter had driven past us the day before and did a 1 minute interview on the side of the road and put us on the front cover. We also did a short CBC radio interview that afternoon.
The next day walking to the ferry it seemed like every 3rd car would honk at us, and some people even stopped to talk to us. One guy walked with us for a bit (Dave "The General" of the Cape Breton Freedom Army - Anti Causeway). We rushed to the ferry and picked up some more free passes care of Wayne. On the ferry we were treated VERY well. We got a free meal and a tour of the bridge... and to top it all off, free soft ice cream! All the people on the ferry were awesome. Thanks Ferry People.
So... that pretty much finishes this journal entry. We are now in our final province: Newfoundland! We are going to sleep at the terminal here and then begin our trek tomorrow along the T'Railway (abandoned railway turned into pathway). I hope I will be able to sleep tonight. I'm pretty excited.
April 28 2006
Towards the Void
From Edmundston we headed along a nice trail that followed the freeway. It started raining, and it would continue rain for even longer than we thought.
We had checked the weather report in Edmundston and saw that Tuesday was going to be a gloriously sunny day. We decided that it would be a great opportunity to take a day off in the woods by some unknown lake and cook over a camp fire. The "Void", a 140 kilometer section of interior New Brunswick, would be the perfect place to take this little vacation in the sun.
We passed through a town called Grand Falls (or Grand Sault) and saw the grand falls. We passed through a town called Plaster Rock, but didn't see a plaster rock. We did however get some supplies in town and met some nice people who bought us lunch.
To the Void!
Our first night was 30 kilometers into the nothingness, and by fluke we found a nice patch of grass to plant our tent on. We had a nice night despite the rain... or should I say SNOW! AHHHH. That's right... it snowed. We shrugged it off knowing that the next day was going to be gloriously sunny. We walked all day in the snow and rain till we found our lake. We setup the tent and waited for our nice sunny day... but it never came. We ended up staying in the tent for 1 1/2 days reading Dan Brown books and eating all our food. Bobby heated up some water and cooked hotdogs in his nalgene bottle. He ate 7 in one sitting. Way to go Bobby.
A few more days of walking in the rain finally took us to Renous, and the sun finally came out. The wind kept things chilly as we cut across some roads heading to the Atlantic.
In a town called Acadieville we met a very nice guy named Denis who invited us to his house. We took the next day off hanging out at his property with his girlfriend, watching canoers float by, playing guitar, and eating. It turns out everyone in Acadieville is nice. If you are ever in need and in New Brunswick, go to Acadieville.
Down the road towards the Atlantic we passed through some more small towns and then started skirting the coast. I was really looking forward to seeing the ocean, but it was always a little too far away from the road to see...
Walking along a road near Bouctouch, a lady pulled up and told us that she has a Bed & Breakfast on the ocean and she would like to invite us to stay the night. We agree and start walking towards the ocean and get our first view of the Atlantic. Behold. Amazing. I can't believe I started at the pacific and now I'm at the Atlantic. My brain might explode. We spend a very enjoyable night at the B&B and then walked along the beach towards Bouctouch.
A few nights later we arrived in a town called Cocagne. Tired and ready for bed we setup the tent on a little beach. We checked the area and decided we were above high tide. We fell asleep and decided that every time we wake up during the night we would poke our heads out the door and check the tides for safety.
I woke up to Bobby's camera beeping... a moisture alarm built into his video camera. Egad, the tides were higher than we thought... and now the tent is half in the water. We jump out of the tent into the chilly Atlantic water and pull all our stuff onto the rocks. Unfortunately all our electronics were destroyed by the salt water that woke us up. We sat there on the rocks drying all our stuff off and trying to turn on our cameras. 2 video cameras, a digital point and shoot, and an Ipod with all the photos from the trip on its hard drive destroyed. We took it pretty well and waited for everything to dry off, then walked 20 kms to Shediac. We sat in a coffee shop, sipping hot chocolate, deciding what we should do. We really want to continue documenting our trip, and we're just about to enter PEI. Could we continue without documentation of the journey? I decided that replacing the point and shoot camera would be a reasonable thing to do. We hitched to Moncton, the biggest city in NB, and one of our rides was a geography teacher who invited us to stay the night at his place in Moncton. He even drove us to the mall and hung out with us as I bought a new camera. I tried to see if someone could open the Ipod and rescue the pictures, but I couldn't find anybody who would do it.
We hitched back to Shediac and we're at the library updating the website. We are going to continue heading south to the Confederation bridge and we should arrive in PEI in the next few days.
April 13 2006
A flight all the way back to Quebec City, a late night bus ride to Riviere Du Loup (where we last walked to), then a 10 KM walk to the trail. Arrival time: 2:15am.
The first day back walking was hard for me... it didn't seem to be too hard for Bobby. Good job Bobby.
The weather these last few days have been great! Sun and warmth with no bugs. We've gone swimming in Lac Temiscouata, we've sat in front of a corner store eating ice cream, we've crossed into New Brunswick, we've met nice people, and all this on only one type of food: Peanut Butter and Jam Sandwiches. I had no idea that PB & Jam could sustain a person for so long. I don't see any reason why we should even try to eat anything else.
Well... maybe that's not a good idea.
Anyways... a new province lays ahead of us... We made our first steps into New Brunswick last night, and this morning continued along a nice trail to Edmundston. Now we have to figure out our route across this new province. Time to look at some maps.
April 07 2006
Along the St. Laurence:
After some research I found out that the required crossing of the St. Laurence would be impossible. We had planned to walk the north side of the mighty river then take a ferry to the south side. Catch: The ferry doesn't run during this time of the year.
We decided to walk the south side of the river. Apparently the north side is nicer but walking on the other shore gave us a beautiful view of the nicer area. Our friend Steph joined us for a few days. It was fun having another person along with us. Unfortunately she hadn't been training for the last year and she developed a nasty blister in the first hour. The next day that blister turned into a gaping wound. In the tent Bobby and I witnessed our first blood soaked sock. It looked painful.
Steph caught a bus back home the next day with hopes of joining us again when her feet get stronger skin.
We've made it to Riviere-Du-Loup... a town on the St. Laurence. From here we will be heading south to New Brunswick, our first maritime province!
I flew back to Vancouver for a most excellent friend's wedding... it was beautiful and filled with love. I think weddings are cool. It was really nice seeing everybody again... Bobby and I predict only 2 1/2 more months to go... to the end.
March 16 2006
Our time spent in Montréal was most excellent. We made some great friends that we will miss, but hopefully we will return after the walk for another visit.
East from Montréal.
Leaving the city was hard for 2 reasons:
1. We had so much fun we didn't want to leave
2. The bridge was closed.
We decided that neither of these things should stand in our way. We climbed over the fence and crossed the St. Laurence River. The St. Laurence has been something that Bobby and I have always looked forward to.
"When we're crossing the St. Laurence..." or "When we're walking along the St. Laurence...".
Anyways... a landmark to say the least.
Once we were on the other side we had yet 2 more things to overcome:
1. We still didn't want to leave Montréal.
2. We were lost.
After a brief meeting in Tim Hortons and some wise words from Gui Lagalosh ("The night brings councils"). We found our way and continued another 10 kilometers out of town just to make sure we wouldn't turn around in the morning.
The next day we felt great. Sleeping in a tent really makes you want to walk. Montréal clouded some things about the walk that I love... fresh air, kind people, adventure. A sleep in the tent fixed all that and now we're back on track.
We are also back on the trail... an abandoned railway took us all the way to Québec city. Eight days of walking with lots of rain, ice, snow, and snow. Bobby has acquired some new blisters and a really sore knee... Hopefully 2 days off in Québec will fix that.
We're staying with a friend of Bobby's in Quebec then heading along the north shore of the St. Laurence. I predict only 7 or 8 more days of walking in La Belle Province... then onto New Brunswick. Exciting.
A short story in Richmond, Québec:
We entered a town on the edge of a river. We were hungry and tired, so we got some snacks at a grocery store and sat down near the river. The tiredness set in faster than we thought, so we started our evening ritual of finding a place to pitch the tent. I crossed a small park in town only to find it too well lit and too occupied by children playing. I did however meet a man named André, his two kids, and his girlfriend Helén. They were more than friendly and were very interested in our journey. They really wanted to do something for us, so he walked with us a few kilometers down the trail and led us to a nice "Halte" (rest area). He told us not to setup the tent just yet and he ran off into the night. Twenty minutes later a car pulled up. It was André with a bale of hay. He spread it on the ground and we setup the tent on top of it. He then told us not to go to sleep just yet, and off he drove into the night. Thirty minutes later the car pulled up again, but his time he had dinner. Vegetarian pasta with bread, cheese curds, bananas, yogurt, granola bars, a Letherman knife set, and 20 dollars. We thanked him a much as we could before he disappeared into the night. That was the last we saw of him. Thank you André, Helén and kids... thank you.
March 01 2006
LaChute to St. Sauveur
The day was snowy... small flakes flew through the afternoon air. We had a full day of walking and having taken it quite slow in the morning made us realize that we were probably going to be walking in the dark. We were heading north to a town called St. Sauveur where the Merrell headquarters is located. We wanted to visit the people who were providing us with our comfy footwear.
Away from the Ottawa river we started climbing into a more hilled terrain. Pine trees prevailing and snowy banks on the side of the road led us to a town called Morin-Heights... apparently the only English colony in the area, it attracts lots of English speakers... it was the first place in Quebec where we would be greeted in English when entering a business. We made our way through the small winding road or Morin-Heights to a small bar called Comfort Bar. We needed some comfort after walking over 40 KMS that day... so in we went.
The Bar was pretty much empty, except for 2 guys hanging out at the bar and the girl who ran the place. We sat down at a table against the wall and had a beer. We started chatting with the two guys and they became pretty interested in the walk... then the girl who ran the place gave us another beer on the house. Then more people arrived and everyone started talking to us. The night ended with a group picture and encouragement from our new friends. We walked into the evening air to find a place to pitch a tent. We found a small brook where we pine bowed and slept.
The morning had 6 KMS in store for us... walking along a busy road to St. Sauveur. This town seems to have about 9 ski hills surrounding it. We strolled through the hip downtown to the Merrell headquarters where we met some very happy friendly people. After a tour, lunch, and hangouts, we were dropped off at a fancy hotel where we were told to "go to town". We then proceeded (with minor guilt) to watch movies, open the mini-bar, reserve massages, have dinner, and relax like never before.
In the morning we met again with the Merrell friends and thanked them profusely for their generosity.
The walk from St. Sauveur was great... it was along a train track converted to cross-country ski path, away from traffic and noise. We stopped at a old train station for some muffins and met some locals of Prevost. They were really nice and we got a chance to practice our French with them. We then made it to St. Jerome where we stayed the night with a Merrell friend and her 2 kids (bonjour Marie-eve et Fred!).
The next day was kind of crazy. A non-stop strip of populated area connects St. Jerome to Montreal... so this meant walking through a huge city for the entire day. It was fairly late when we finally arrived in Montreal... but it was well worth the walk... what a town.
February 21 2006
Well... it's been a while since I've written about our travels. What has happened since Mattawa? Where are we as I type this entry? Where will we be tomorrow? All these questions and more will be answered:
South East from Mattawa -
With our sleds left behind to become the play toys of small children, we walked south east along the Ottawa river. A few days of snow almost made me regret the ditching of the sleds... but in reality it was nice to have the load back on my back... where it's meant to be.
In a small town called Deux Riviers we stopped to have a bite in the only thing that was open... a small smokey restaurant / motel. The guy who took care of the place started to talk to us and made a business proposition: We shovel the roof of the motel, and he'll give us a room to stay in and dinner. We could have kept walking and made some more kilometers that day... but we wouldn't have had this story. We leisurely shoveled off the roof and then hung out with Kay and Grant (the owners?) in the empty restaurant. How they stay in business by having their only customers stay for free?... that's a good question... i guess their kindness is more important to remember... and not their business practices.
We continued the next morning after a nice rest. The sun was out and the air was a little crispy. Hills going up, then hills going down lead us to Deep River. Here we stayed with John and Nicky... two very hospitable people who feed us and gave us a place to stay. We also had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Allen's Aunt at dinner.
Just when you thought we couldn't be sleeping indoors anymore, we arrived in Pembroke where we stayed with two very awesome people: Griffith and Rebeca Slaughter. They welcomed us into their house... we showered, dressed in flannel P.J.'s, ate candy, and watched movies. They had two kittens that completed the experience.
We walked 45 kilometers to the Quebec border and slept on an island between two hydro damns on the Ottawa river...
Walking into Quebec by Shawville, we met up with Uncle John... Bobby's Uncle. He walked with us for a part of the day... and what a wonderful day that was. The sun was up, the air wasn't too cold, and the road was flat and quite. Uncle John drove us to Ottawa at the end of the day and we stayed in an apartment belonging to a Jenny.
The next day we skated on the Canal, had hot chocolate and beaver tails, relaxed, watched a movie, and met the Jenny that was housing us. She arrived back at her apartment in the evening after returning from a long cross-country ski marathon.
On Tuesday we drove Jenny's car back to the Quebec side and hitched to where we left off with Uncle John. We walked 40 kilometers back to the car, then two days later continued back on the eastward trek to Montreal.
That brings us to now... in a ville called LaChute. The previous days have been sunny ... I have a glasses tan on my face. We've spoken French, but mostly get English in return. I think I need a french refresher course... I daydreamed that Madame Grayham (elementary school teacher) drove by and recognized me... then proceeded to re-teach me my verbs.
It's snowing but not blowing. Today we head north to St. Sauveur to visit Merrell, then we head south to Montreal to take another few days off with friends.
Thanks for reading.
February 04 2006
During our Stay in North Bay, we journeyed to some local stores and picked up supplies to build some sleds for towing our backpacks. We got some instructions off the Internet and began construction. A few minutes later we had our sleds.
They work pretty well when there is packed snow on the ground... but thanks to Ontario's snow plow team, there isn't much left on the sides of the road. Sometimes we would have to pull the sleds across pavement and rocks. 1 1/2 days later our sleds have acquired a new addition: holes. So...here in Mattawa we must donate our sleds to some kids and continue using our backs. We have to wait for a route with more snow.
We also had to spend some time in a laundromat to dry out all our gear that got soaked from being tied to the sleds.
February 02 2006
As we left Sudbury we got a little lost and started heading West. Bobby noticed that the sun was in the wrong place, and I noticed the wind was blowing in the wrong direction. We stopped and got our bearings, then turned around. Turning around is a very hard thing to do... sometimes I'm inclined to just continue going the wrong way just because I've put so much effort into that route.
It was good that we turned around.
Heading east this time, just outside of Sturgeon Falls, we met a guy (TJ) who was plowing his driveway. He invited us in for a drink, and it turned into beer and pizza. It was an incredible surprise and very much appreciated. We met the family and dried off all our gear. Adorned with new hats (ontariofishing.net) we continued walking into the night.
We have made it to North Bay, and Bobby has caught a bug. This is the first time a sickness has made it on the walk. I hope he gets better soon... we've been taken in by a very nice couple who have been feeding us and taking good care of Bobby.
January 26 2006
Ontario II, The Return of the Walkers.
Another 2 1/2 day bus ride back into the center of Ontario. We stayed in Sault Sainte Marie for a few days with our friends Jen and Alec. They treated us too well, taking us snowboarding (which we didn't know existed here in Ontario), meeting their friends, and watching movies. They even drove us to Massey where we last left off.
Leaving Massey was great. We were walking again... our bodies regenerated, our equipment dry and clean. 3 days later, Bobby has a blister (possibly multiple), my sleeping bag is soaking, we've arrived in Sudbury and our bodies hurt. We need to get back in shape.
January 19 2006
A very delayed journal entry... but with reason:
After relaxing with some recently made good friends, we headed (like most of the time) east. East is a nice direction we've decided... definitely a favourite.
Some pretty cold nights awaited us in this next stretch. And when it gets really cold, our sleeping bags get really wet... not a good combination. Near the 6th day of walking we decided that our lives depended on finding a place to dry. The chosen place: A Laundromat. Unfortunately, the only town we were going through had an unfortunate lack of "Mats". Directionless (except for our eastern heading) we walked... at a loss... we were in a state of "what do we do now?" We pushed on into the night... and then we met Mike.
Mike was plowing some driveways with his newly painted plow connected to his pickup truck. He started talking to us, and I dropped our situation. He picked it up, and before we knew it we were in a wonderful house, surrounded by wonderful people, eating wonderful food, then sleeping in wonderfully dry beds. The world is wonderful.
2 more days of walking landed us in Massey Ontario. This town probably doesn't have a lot of meaning for most people... but we've had our eye on this town for a while now. 18 days ago, at Rabbit Blanket Lake in Lake Superior Prov. Park. Bobby and I bought 2 greyhound tickets back home. Departure: Massey Ontario. We kept it secret, in case the weather was fantastic or something and we didn't or couldn't get home. We also wanted to surprise our parents, who had given up on us ever returning for Christmas. We showed them! 2 and 1/2 days later: British Columbia. I arrived at the Vernon bus depot, walked 12 kms home and arrived at my parents door at 1am (Bobby would still be on the bus heading to Vancouver at this point... poor Bobby).
Christmas was also WONDERFUL.
December 19 2005
The walk from Wawa to Sault Sainte Marie was awesome. The costal trail travels through Lake Superior Prov. Park along the coast of the lake. Most sections of the trail travel along large granite boulders. Unfortunately these sections were impassible due to all the frozen water sprayed on the rocks from Superior. We still got some beautiful views though...
One breakfast took place on a beach that was being blasted by horizontal snow... Bobby went to get water from the lake and almost got soaked. The lesson: Getting water from a raging lake is hard... stick to small streams.
Snow was plentiful during this section... but we still managed to make it to Sault for the weekend. And what a weekend it was. We stayed with Alec and Jenny who took very good care of us. Many thanks to you.
No more southern travel for us... we head east!
December 1 2005
East from Schreiber we headed... we blasted to Terrace Bay without taking a stop (14 KMS away) and then hid out in the library... The temperature outside: -34.
Since Terrace Bay the temp has been all over the thermometer. One day it was raining and 4C outside... then the next day it was -10 and the wet tent turned into an ice palace.
It was my birthday on the 29th and we celebrated it by walking our usual 40kms and a nice birthday Strawberry Sunday with a candle in it. Delicious.
We have arrived in Wawa... picked up some new boots at the Post Office (along with some other great birthday surprises). We have a nice lady here who is hosting our stay... She has a nice warm house and is very friendly.
We will be heading south after our rest here to Sault Saint Marie. Hopefully the weather figures out what it's doing and lets us pass.
November 23 2005
Thunder Bay was fantastic. A great place for a several day rest. It's also a great place to wait for the weather to get worse... go figure.
The day we left Thunder Bay the temperature drop to -24 degrees (with wind chill). The tent quickly turned into an icebox as we tried to sleep the night away.
The following morning held a nasty -18C. There is nothing like getting out of your sleeping bag in temperatures like that... and the horrible thing: locals tell us that it hasn't even gotten cold yet!
Our trip around the largest source of fresh water in the world has been good though... every once in a while the sun peaks through the clouds and dries us off... We celebrated Bobby's birthday on the 17th (Happy Birthday Bobby... 25!).
Snowploughs line the highway, snow falls from the sky, and nights are cold.
An interesting thing happened to us in Nipigon. We were walking along the road and at the beginning of a bridge, pylons blocked the flow of traffic... obviously pylons don't stop walkers, so we stepped over them and continue across the bridge. On the other side we were greeted by police who informed us that we had just walked through a crime scene. A truck carrying PCBs has spilt its load on the road. We were apparently going to grow a third leg... convenient. It was quite a night though... no traffic for hours on the highway... the night that Walkers Ruled the Road!
A section of wilderness trail stretches from Rossport to Terrace Bay (names that probably don't mean a lot to most people). It's been great to get off the highway and into the woods. The trail has a lot of tree fall covering the path so it's a challenge (a very rewarding one).
We are currently in Schreiber hiding from the Ontario weather.
November 15 2005
While in Dryden, Ontario, we met a wonderful person from the library that invited us in for a shower and a place to stay. What a hallow e'en!
Away from Dryden and heading south to Thunder Bay took us through a small town called Ignace. We received a nice, new, comfortable pair of shoes from Merrell... and they arrived just in time... because it started to really snow (WET SNOW!). After Ignace it was uphill for 50 kilometers, and then downhill for another 150 kilometers into Thunder Bay. The downhill is far worse than going up because it is very hard on the knees. It took us a while to break in our new boots and our legs paid the price with major pain. Tip: break in your footwear before walking 40 kilometers a day!
We've arrived in Thunder Bay (HALF WAY!) and we couldn't be more excited... the weather may be getting worse, but the half way point has renewed our energy and excitement. Only another 5 or 6 months!
Lake Superior is beautiful and huge.
October 31 2005
Away from Winnipeg and on to Ontario. Just east of "The Peg" we were stunned by the drastic change in our surroundings. From flat farmlands to forested rolling hills. Large granite rocks covered in liken have become a familiar sight.
4 days of walking led us trough Whiteshell Prov. Park and into Ontario!! As per usual, we were very excited to enter into a new province... but Ontario has provided us with something new: Fantastic scenery with unlimited water supply. We weaved our way in between picturesque lakes and even took a dip in a few of them (they're cold, but it's great to feel clean).
We spent a day in Kenora (a great town right in the Lake of the Woods). We visited the swimming pool and the laundromat. We hung out with 2 guys (Robin and Blaise) from France. They are hitching across Canada and it was neat to talk to travellers that have come through the area that we are about to enter.
While in Kenora, I received an email from Merrell Canada (makers of fine hiking shoes). They are going to sponsor our walk!! Very exciting and fantastic news!
After 2 nights camped out behind a laundromat, we headed east and started seeing less and less lakes. I guess the present lack of lakes will make the great lakes seem even greater. We are currently in Dryden taking an hour break before getting back on the trail.
Our feet are doing well... they've carried us far.
October 19 2005
Winnipeg... land of comfort and wonder.
After offering high-school students Fudgee-O's, we left the fine town of Glenboro and continued our eastwardly trek. The closer we get to the Canadian Shield, the better the water quality gets, the more trees dot the scenery, the more hilly it gets. Bobby and I are both pretty excited for the wild land of northern Ontario.
For 4 days after Glenboro, we walked an intense 40 kms/day with nothing but "Winnipeg Winnipeg Winnipeg" going through our minds. We arrived on the 4th day at the perimeter highway, and penetrated into the city limits. We had a huge lunch (with disastrous after effects) at a restaurant called "Humptie's", then walked the city streets. We met some great people along the way as we caught a bus downtown (no... we didn't cheat... read on). They navigated us to our friends house at which we are currently living the high life. We rented some movies, and ate some more food, and slept.
Today we caught a bus back to where we gave our feet a rest. We left our bags back at the house and walked along the TransCanada Trail through the city of Winnipeg. It was beautiful. We also met Louis Riel (a giant statue of him) the night before.
I've added a video section to the webpage, and I think we'll be adding videos sporadically throughout the trip for peoples viewing pleasure.
October 12 2005
We set off from Weyburn with nice full stomachs (thanks to the Garvens). Our final push before entering a new province! We didn't expect to wake up one morning to the wind blowing snow horizontally into our faces. We backtracked a few kilometers to a town called Carlyle. There we met some great people at a shop called "Old Fashioned Foods". They gave us some warm soup and a delicious sandwich. We did a nice interview there for their paper (small communities across the prairies are going to have very similar news stories). We also met a guy named Dave who took us in. He cooked us a wonderful dinner and we watched movies until 2 in the morning.
The next day the sun was out and the snow was slowly melting. We got stocked up with some free tea and some oil for our feet from the nice people at the store and then headed out into a whole new snowy world. The wind was still blowing, but at least there wasn't any debris (like snow or rain) falling from the sky. As we left town a van pulled up and asked us what we were doing. After shortly explaining our adventure, the lady who was driving pulled out 2 $50 bills and gave them to us... we were flabbergasted, but they told us to take it and to have a good trip... holy generosity batman. I'm still trying to come to terms with it.
After 2 more days of walking we arrived at the Manitoba border. We were excited! Bobby packed a pumpkin pie from the nearest town and we sat by the side of the road and celebrated our crossing into a news province and Thanksgiving. There was a sign at the border that said "Winnipeg - 315 Kms". We figured that 8 days of walking 40kms/day will land us (very tired) in the big city.
We've done some more railroad walking to cut some corners and we've veered away from the TransCanada Trail temporarily to get ahead of the weather. The snow on the sides of the road has been helpful as a water source.
We went swimming yesterday when the sun came out... it was in a mucky river called "Souris River”. It was pretty much our first river and we enjoyed our cold October swim.
Currently we are in a town called Glenboro at the local school. We did a nice interview with 2 grade 12 students for the paper in town and we've been offered the gym showers (they can smell us... I'm sure of it). We are sitting the school library reading our emails and eating a box of Fudgee-O's. Life is good.
October 1 2005
We arrived in a town called Weyburn Saskatchewan yesterday. We are almost out of the province (about 5 days left of walking). It's really exciting getting to the edge of a province. As we get ready to enter into Manitoba we look forward to lakes and hills.
4 Days ago we arrived in Assiniboia and walked into a Laundromat that smelt like Durian Fruit... luckily we found a better place to do our laundry. We stocked up on supplies and gorged a little on cookies and chocolate milk. We are having really unhealthy cravings that don't leave us feeling too good afterwards...
My shoes are wearing out already... I've only had them for about 1 month and the heals are almost gone. I'm supposed to be careful with my feet so I'm going to order a new pair... I don't want another stress fracture.
The nights are getting colder and we've started putting our bags underneath our legs when we sleep in the tent. The extra insulation seems to be working out. Bobby and I are both leery about these cold winters we've been told so much about. I hope people are just over exaggerating.
Our friend Lisa Paynter has hooked us up with some of her family here in Weyburn and we are spending 2 days here to rest after an 8 day stretch of straight walking. The family we are staying with are incredibly nice taking in two scraggily strangers. Luckily we showered before they met us… it had been 3 weeks since our last shower with soap.
September 20 2005
After Maple Creek, we walked for 2 days. We loaded our backpacks with 5 liters of water each and set forth with extremely heavy backpacks. On the 2nd day a truck stopped. Two people sat in the cab (Rob and Grieta), here is the dialogue that followed:
Rob: "You guys aren't walking across Canada or something, are you?"
Kyle: "Yup... we are."
Rob turned off his truck and so began a nice conversation with 2 very nice people. They were surveying the newly widened dirt road that we were walking on. They asked us if we were going to Eastend (a small town south of our route). They were disappointed when we told them that we weren't going that way. After a while more, they returned to their job and we returned to our walk.
A few hours later we were fishing some fresh water out of a puddle on the side of the road (we had lots of water... but we wanted to indulge and not deplete our rations). The truck pulled up again and a deal was struck. They told us we needed to see Eastend and we could spend the night at Grieta's ranch. They would pick us up at the end of the day. Needless to say... we were excited. It was well called for too, because Bobby's blisters were nasty by the end of the day. I guess the 2 days in Maple Creek didn't do much for his blisters.
The next 2 days were spent in Eastend... Grieta offered for us to stay the extra nights and we couldn't refuse. Bobby's blisters were getting better and her cooking was fantastic. We checked out a T-Rex Discovery Center in town (they found a T-Rex there in the mid 90's), hung out at the library, ate at a nice diner and met the locals.
Grieta dropped us off where they picked us up the other day (Rob drove a steak into the ground to mark where we stopped walking). We decided to take it really easy on Bobby's feet and only walk 15 Kms a day. That system turned into our current fantastic way of walking. We wake up and walk for 15 kms. We take a break, setup the tent, have a cooked lunch, a sleep, then we pack up and walk for another 15 Kms in the dead of night. The evening walks are by far our favourite... walking under the stars... and lately it's been a full moon. We walked for 4 days using the new system and pulled into Ponteix. We are currently waiting for the arrival of some new equipment that we ordered. The packages should be arriving sometime soon (next few days). In the meantime, we are camped by a river and enjoying meeting the friendly locals (most of them are somehow connected to my friend Matt Pord).
Oh yeah... as a consequence of our new walking system, we are setting up the tent at night... sometimes on patches of cacti. Result: Flat thermarest with many a hole.
September 14 2005
Wow... it's been quite a journey setting off from Medicine Hat. I'm really glad to be back on the trail and my foot seems to be fine. A few times I sometimes feel pain in my foot... but it passes by quickly. The real issue has been Bobby's feet. At the last count, he has 11 blisters. We are taking the day off to help him recover.
The first day away from Medicine Hat was interesting. We were walking along a dirt road and a dog came running up to us. He followed us for about 10 minutes, when a guy on a quad pulled up. He accused us of taking people's dogs from their yards, and making cows run. He asked us what we were doing and told us "that better be all you're doing out here". He also told us that we were going to "...run into bad company." I figured out pretty soon that he was the bad company that we were going to run into. Finally he told us to "Keep walkin'". We were glad to be away from him.
The next day an RCMP officer stopped in front of us and asked us some questions. He checked our ID and made sure that we weren't "walking" away from some crime scene (with 50 lbs backpacks and trekking poles?!?). Obviously we checked out and continued the walk.
We ran out of water later that day and found a house that looked approachable. We walked up to it and knocked on the door with our water bottles in hand. The door had two signs: "Never mind the dog, beware the owner" and "This premises is monitored by Smith and Weston". We thought it was a joke until a car came barreling up the drive way and the guy asked "What the *$ are you doing?". We told him that we were hoping to fill up our water bottles and just finished knocking on his door. He told us to get off his property "I mean NOW... not now... RIGHT NOW!". It didn't make sense, but we got out of there pretty fast.
We thought nobody liked us here... and we were totally put out. No water and unfriendly people... until we met the Hutterites! They gave us water and food. They are so nice and constantly offering us things. They will see us camping on the side of the road and tell us to go to the colony and stay there. We visited one colony called Elkwater Colony. We filled up our water bottles there and visited the school and talked to the students. The kids gave us a tour of the place and we were very impressed. It ended with them giving us lunch and warm wishes. A few days later a truck came by with a bread delivery for us. I can't believe these people! WOW.
So we crossed into Saskatchewan and the weather has changed (RAIN!). We have made it to Maple Creek and we're going to stay here for the day and hope that Bobby's blisters will get better.
August 18 2005
Ok everybody... if anybody actually comes to the site anymore that is...
My foot is all better (I think and hope). So I'm going to be continuing the walk on the 28th of August or so. My good friend Bobby McDowell will be joining me for the rest of the way. We'll be starting in Medicine Hat (where I hurt my foot) and make our way east. I'm really excited to continue the walk! It's going to be most excellent...
Keep in touch, and start coming back to the site to watch the progress.
May 19 2005
Congratulations: It's a stress fracture!
It's official. I have a boo-boo on my foot, and it's going to take 8 more weeks of recovery.
The walk is not over... it's just paused till August. Once my foot has fully recovered, I will be back on the trail, waking my way across the country. So... come back to the site then.
For now, I'll update the site periodically and let whoever cares know about my foot and its path to wholeness. I've returned to Vernon, BC to bask in the comfort of home.
May 13 2005
Here's some more news on my ankle. It turns out it's not my ankle at all... it's my foot. Supposedly I have a stress fracture on my Navicular bone on my left foot. I had some x-rays taken, and today I went in to the hospital for a bone scan (I now have radio-active blood). I've been babying my foot by using crutches and icing it frequently.
I have been told the recovery time is 6 weeks. I hope that my extra efforts towards healing will speed that time up by a week or two. That may be a little hopeful but I'm crossing my fingers and trying to absorb those nice healing-vibes people have been sending me.
I miss the walk.
My doctor will have the results some time next week. I'll let everyone know the outcome.
May 4 2005
Well... I thought Alberta was going by quickly... until my ankle started hurting beyond walking. I'm resting my injury and trying to take it easy. Hopefully after a few more days, the ankle will be ready to hit the trails once again.
April 28 2005
Hot - Cold
After leaving Calgary I had a taste of what walking in blistering heat is like. For 6 days I didn't know what shade was. I have acquired a fantastic "Farmer's Tan" and sun burnt legs. The only thing more obscure than shade: water.
On the 6th day... I started thinking, "I wonder if it will ever rain... or at least be cloudy..." Well... it snowed on the 7th day... and the 8th. I guess the moral of the story is: I'm never happy with what I have. One thing that doesn't especially make me happy is packing my frost-covered tent in the morning. It makes my fingers really cold and sore. That's really the only thing I don't like about it snowing and being cold.
(I'm getting thirsty just THINKING about walking in the sun.)
I'm in Medicine Hat right now... in the public library. I'm going to take a day or 2 off from this intense walking. I'm almost done Alberta... I'm pretty surprised how fast it's going.
I have a list of things I need to do:
1. Upload my pictures (the library doesn't let me).
2. Find a place to do laundry.
3. Find a place to sleep.
4. Shop for food.
My ankle is also hurting again... I don't know if I ever mentioned it in a previous journal... anyways... my ankle hurts.
I've got a good story:
I was walking through a town called Enchant (nice name). It was about 7pm and I needed to find a tuff of grass to pitch my tent. I sat down at a park, about to eat some dinner, when a guy came out of the community center across the street.
He asked me what I was doing and yada yada yada (the regular questions and answers). He told me about a really nice camp ground just a few minutes away... I was stoked and so I packed up and set off to make my way there. Just as I was passing the community center, he came out again and told me they had some left over dinner inside. I agreed to the free meal.
Inside the building there was about 7 or 8 people sitting around a table, getting ready for a meeting. They were doing this thing called an "Alpha Course". It's an introduction to Christianity. The guy was a little hesitant to invite me in, as he didn't want to subject me to anything I didn't believe in. But as they were about to watch a video on the church... how could I pass up dinner and a movie.
After the meeting I found out that the guy is a pastor and he and his wife invited me to stay the night at their place.
Once at their place, they stuffed me with more food, and then I watched another movie (K2... nothing to do with Christianity). I slept in a nice bed and left in the morning after a delicious bowl of cereal.
Such nice people there in Enchant.
April 19 2005
I just returned from the most wonderful wedding. I can't even begin to describe accurately the event. All I'll say is that I will never witness a wedding more beautiful than Ben and Sara McLean's. It embodied everything that they are. Perhaps an equation would help:
Ben = SuperLove
Sara = MegaLove
Ben + Sara = 10,000,000,000,000,000 x SuperMegaLove
World Content of Love Due to Ben and Sara's Marriage: Theoretically impossible... implosion of universe due to pure mass of love.
I'm returning to the walk this morning. I'll be making my way through Calgary and deeper into the prairies.
April 4 2005
Holy Wowzers! I'm in Alberta... Calgary. I can't believe it.
Through the Elk Pass I forged my path in the snow and in the mountains. I slept the 31 of March in a small cabin along the trail. The next morning (April 1st) the weather had changed and it was snowing and blowing like mad. I made a final push through knee deep snow to the Alberta border and into a cross country ski hill. It was pretty funny: Through really hard terrain into a packed trail with x-country skiers skiing about.
I found my way through a maze of trails onto a paved road... and then into a visitor information center in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (all my maps had run out at the AB border). The guy at the Info Center was really nice (Dwane) and he helped me figure out the TCT route through the park and into Calgary. He even let me stay at his friends place for the night. It was awesome. I watched some movies and fell asleep on their comfy couch.
The next day I walked about 40 kilometers to the trail head for the Trans Canada trail. One thing I love about Alberta so far is there are tonnes of picnic tables. It makes for easy rests.
I got lost (horrible) and spent a good 4 hours trying to find the trail the next day. The problem: Snow. It covers the trails and makes it hard to find/follow. I had to give up and follow a dirt road and eventually connected to the Trans Canada Highway.
Today I walked 50 kilometers (the furthest so far) into the city of Calgary. So... here I am... in Calgary. I'm going to spend a few days resting... my feet hurt.
March 29 2005
The last leg before Alberta. I have about 70 more kilometers before the border. I'm not sure what to expect. I'm supposed to get into pretty high elevations, and I don't have any snowshoes. It might be Coquihalla Pass all over again (1ft deep powder). I also suspect there will be no cell reception... so perhaps the progress page won't get updated for a while.
I got snowed on pretty hard last night... I had to wake up a few times and hit the side of the tent to get the snow off (to keep me from suffocating).
I'm going to make one last supply stop in town (Elkford) and then continue north to the Elk Pass and then onto Alberta. See you soon.
March 26 2005
"Fernie - Welcome" read the sign as I entered one of the last civilized stops before the Albertan border.
"Dairy Queen" read the sign as I bought a delicious Tropical Blizzard.
"Hostel" read the sign as I got a room for the night.
"Public Library" read the sign as I sat down to use the Internet and upload some pictures to walkcanada.com.
"Save On Foods" will read the sign when I buy some food for tonight.
March 22 2005
I'm in Cranbrook, staying with an awesome family by the name of "The Allen Family". Sorry... no pictures during this update... lack of technology. Perhaps I'll find an Internet cafe with windows XP tomorrow.
Anyways... more about the trip:
I set off from Rossland, I ate pasta in Trail, read a book in 3 days, almost forded a huge river, got rained on, then snowed on, crossed a huge mountain pass, slept in a cabin in the woods, slept in a motel, walked 45 kilometers a day for 4 days, arrived in Cranbrook, watched TV.
March 14 2005
My calves hurt.
Just when you think your body can handle anything... you hit mountains. I guess the walk so far has been a nice relaxing stroll... because once I hit the Kootenays, everything changed.
I started along a stretch from Cristina Lake to Rossland along the Dewdney Trail. Let me tell you about this Dewdney guy... he must have been in really good shape. He sure makes a steep trail. Along with the snow, mud, huge amounts of fallen trees, and a hard to navigate trail system, my body just wasn't ready for it. I struggled for 3 days till finally I got to Rossland.
Rossland is a beautiful mountain town. The residents seem to be very active and pleasant. I'm thinking of finding a place to stay the night here... and take a well deserved rest day.
March 11 2005
I'm now in Grand Forks. I've attempted my best at updating the photos, but nobody in the southern interior has Windows XP, thus making it hard to interface my camera. I'm a geek.
I thought I would describe a typical day in the life of Kyle walking across Canada:
I entitle this journal entry: A Normal Day.
After waking up 4 or 5 times during the night, I'll finally make myself vertical by 6:30am. After fishing around my sleeping bag for my socks, I'll get dressed and step into the cold outdoors. Breakfast consists of hot porridge with raisins. After a leisurely meal, I pack everything up and hoist my backpack onto my shoulders. I'm usually walking by 8:00am.
Since I'm energetic in the morning, I'll walk for 2 or 3 hours before taking a break. Some crackers and cheese, and some gulps of water get me going again. 2 or 3 of these breaks a day, plus 3 or 4 trail mix stops and I'm done.
Between 5:30pm and 6:30pm I'll stop and setup camp. Dinner is something delicious like soup with lots of noodles (more like noodles with a little soup), and some peanut butter.
Back into my tent I go, for a little reading and updating of my distance covered for the website (depending on cell-reception). By 8 I usually give up and rest my eyes. I'll then wake up several more times during the night until the next day arrives.
That's my life. Boring.
March 10 2005
Ahhhh... It's the smallest city in Canada! GREENWOOD.
That's where I am. Greenwood. Everything here is small. Not really.
I've been blazing the trail for the last few days. Unfortunately, I'm in a region where there is no cell reception, thus: I can't update my coordinates. On top of that: It seems my gps "more detailed map" isn't setup correctly, and it shows that I'm somewhere north of the Okanagan. It's not true... I'm in Greenwood, which is quite south.
Speaking of south: The instant I got past Rock Creek, it started to get really warm. I no longer seek the sun when resting. The shade has become a friend.
Yesterday, walking between Rock Creek and Midway, a golden retriever started following me. He followed me for 6 or 7 kilometers. I started to get worried, because he was getting further and further away from his home and was giving no signs of turning back. I checked his collar, and his name was Ralphie and there was a phone number under his name. I called the number, but no one answered. I decided to walk the rest of the way into Midway and take him to the police station. They took Ralphie off of my hands. Hopefully his owners will pick him up soon.
I'll update my pictures when I get to Grand Forks. Until then...
March 2 2005
Another Journal Entry:
Setting off from Brookmere, I had the pleasure of my sister's company. Kath joined me for 5 days of intense walking. Our cousins lent us some snowshoes, but we only wore them for about 2 hours. We realized that the snow was hard enough for normal walking. We strapped the snowshoes to our packs and walked till 8pm and setup camp.
The next morning, I noticed that Kath didn't have her snowshoes anymore. We figured they must have fallen off during one of our rest stops. We left our packs where they were, and started backtracking to find the lost snowshoes. After 1.5 hours of quick walking, we realized that they were probably a lot further than we thought. We gave up, and walked back to where we left our packs. It was a little distressing having lost a pair of snowshoes after only having them for a few hours. We walked for 6 more hours in the right direction and slept by the river. We also had a nice warm fire that night.
After another 2 1/2 days of walking, we arrived at Osprey Lake where my Dad picked up my sister and we had a really nice picnic lunch. After they left, I walked across the frozen lake, and returned to the trail.
When I eventually made it to Summerland, I got my first glimpse of Okanagan Lake. I was pretty excited to see it. The lake is a huge symbol of home for me. I was amazed that I somehow walked from Victoria to Okanagan Lake. I camped that night right on the shore.
In the morning, I started early and walked to Penticton at the end of the lake. I spent a few hours doing some laundry and re-supplying my food. I finished the day on the mountains over-looking Penticton and the lake. That night I heard some weird noises outside of my tent, and it worried me. I got up, and stuck my head out of the tent, but I didn't see anything. The noises sounded like someone exhaling hard from their nose (try it, listen, and imagine this noise waking you up at night).
In the morning, there was no sign of any intruder. I continued on my way towards Kelowna. I walked for 39 kilometers and ended up in Mission (a suburb of Kelowna). I'll take a 1 day break and rest my body now.
February 20 2005
Well... where have I been for the pretty much the entirety of February? Read on, and you will find out:
It was January 26th when I arrived in Hope and had the fortune of meeting up with my two friends that surprised me with a visit. We talked a while in a coffee shop, and I started missing home. Since they were only going for a few days, then returning to Vancouver, I thought, "I'll just catch a ride back home, and get some serious family hangout time, and then return with only a few days of lost walking." Well... I tell ya... These 3 days turned into 9 or 10 days, as there was a change of plans on the return trip. It gave me a chance to see how my family was doing, I updated the website, saw a few friends, and had a good time... But I missed the trail, and really wanted to get back on route.
Luckily: My Dad had a few days off work, and decided to join me on the walk. He drove me to Hope and parked his car at the grocery store across the street from the coffee shop. We walked for a few hours that night and got to the Othello Canyon tunnels (tunnels for the old Kettle Valley Railway that go right through the mountain side). We camped that night in one of the tunnels (an opportunity I don't think people get often, as they are closed during the winter and very touristy in the summer). The next day we hiked a grueling 30 something kilometers with an unfortunate detour (a problem with an non-existing "future bridge" over the Coquihalla River). Exhausted, we slept that night at the crest of another 30 kilometers of wilderness route through the Trans-Canada Highway's neighbouring valley.
My Dad left the next morning to hitch hike back to Hope. It was a little hard to walk away from my Dad and continue alone. The little company I've had during this trip has been so wonderful. Anyways... I started walking a beautiful section of trail through a valley, and eventually hit snow. The snow also started falling from the sky. After a while, that snow got blown by the wind. Soon, the wind was cold and blowing, and the path knee-high in heavy snow. After hours of trudging through the ungiving white hell, I was so desperate that I stopped to make shoeshoes. The ingredients: 4 branches from a pine tree, some string, and a little genius. The result: 20 minutes of slightly less hard walking through snow. The conclusion: Not worth it. I quickly discarded my crappy home made creation and gained more respect for the people who have been creating quality snowshoes.
I continued along, without any weight distribution technology, and collapsed in an old caved-in tunnel (remnants of the forgotten section of KV Railway).
The next morning, I made it to plowed road near the Coquihalla toll booths. I stopped for a few crackers at the rest area, filled my water bottles, and realized that it was going to be a beautiful day. I walked again through the snow, but it didn't seem so bad with the sun overhead.
Something I've learnt: The guy who engineered the KV Railway was really into Shakespeare. The next time your drive the Trans-Canada Highway, keep your eye out for references like "Juliet Station", "Romeo Station", "Portia Station", and "Shylock Station". The highway travels near old KV Railway stations, and they decided to pay homage to the old defunct railway. It also explains the tunnels that my Dad and I slept in.
Back on to the journey: I made just past the Juliet Station, and slept the night on a trail covered in animal tracks (some made me a little concerned... large dog like tracks with no human tracks to accompany them... maybe a wolf or huge coyote). After a clear starry night, I made a final push for Brookmere (the official start or end of the Kettle Valley Railway).
This is where another gap gets filled: That day I arrived in the seemingly ghost town of Brookmere. I setup my tent in the middle of a small field in the center of the few houses they call a town. As I was walking along the only road in town, I saw a puff of smoke from a chimney and met a really interesting "seclusionist" named Andrew - a 50 year old wood turner. He invited me in for a warm drink and some conversation. That night, I slept again under a star covered sky (clear sky = freezing cold). That morning, I hung out in the field and read my book, wrote in my journal, and waited for a ride to a 10 day meditation course a few kilometers away. I spent the next 12 days doing hardcore Vipassana Meditation. It was really hard (no talking or any communication whatsoever, 11 hours of meditation a day, up at 4:00am, to bed at 9:30pm). What also made it hard was everyday being so beautiful, and not a single step eastward on my journey across Canada. Anyways... I finished the course, and I really appreciate everything that happened there. I've never done any meditation before, or even thought of starting... but the course really revealed the amazing benefits of this type of meditation. We'll see if I keep practising the techniques I learnt. (Hellooooo to all the people I met there during our 1 day of talking! You guys are awesome.)
Now I'm ready to go back on the trail again. It's easy for me to feel that I've waisted February... but whenever I catch myself thinking of my lack in progress, I remember that it's a journey, and it's not to be rushed. Thanks to everyone who kept coming back to the site looking for an update, and not finding anything. I'm going to add some pictures now.
January 26 2005
I HOPE you don't mind... but...
I'm in Hope.
After a pizza lunch, quick re-fueling of food supplies and some Internet access, I was pleasantly surprised by a visit from my Cousins (Ben and Sara).
I took a shortcut from Chilliwack to Hope (The Shortcut: Highway 1). It must have trimmed 3 or 4 days off of my route. Now I will start my journey uphill towards the Coquihalla summit. I won't have access to any town for a few days (maybe 6 or 7). It's pretty exciting to start this leg of the walk across Canada.
January 22 2005
Today I made it to Sumas Mountain. 3 of my wonderful friends (Ben, Sara, and Mike) met up with me to cross the mountain. After hours of uphill, and hours of downhill, we ended up getting lost and looped to where we started.
Not all was lost: there's nothing like walking with friends. Even though no ground was made, the day was not wasted.
I'll start again tomorrow, and find a new, better, not-getting-lost route.
January 21 2005
I set off from Vancouver in a downpour. At first, it was fun: a challenge of a sort. It's easy to forget that walking across Canada is challenge enough... let alone walking in the Coast's heaviest rainfall of the year. It will have to stop eventually.
Other than the constant rain... the walking is going along quite nicely.
A story: I was walking along the trail (yes it was raining), and I came around a corner. What I saw was the entire trail engulfed with a huge puddle. With no way around it, I thought "If I run as fast as I can, maybe I won't get too wet." I realize now it was foolish. With a quick sprint, I was quickly up to my waste in "puddle". I walked the next 2 days in squishy boots.
January 13 2005
Well... I spent an extra day in Nanaimo... due to it's wonderful warmth, hospitality, and delicious food.
Yesterday (Wednesday 12th) I caught the ferry from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay. I walked along several, very non-direct trails for 9 hours. I finally arrived near the Capilano Suspension Bridge, where Cousin Lisa picked me up, took me to her place, and fed me pizza.
I'm now staying a while in Vancouver with Ben, Sara, and Ariel.
January 10 2005
Ohhh... My body hurts!
Well, it's day 6 of my walk across Canada. I’ll break my journey down into it’s respective days:
Day 1 –
I woke up, got some trail mix at the grocery store, and got a ride down to Mile 0 (the starting point of the Trans Canada Trail). Adam, Dana, Xela, and Amber were there to see me off. It was really nice to have some friends at the beginning of the walk, as it got progressively lonelier as the days went by.
Adam walked with me for the entire day, until we arrive just short of Goldstream Provincial Park. My legs were a little tired, and we stopped just in time. I don’t think I would have been able to go any further. Adam got picked up after we setup camp, and I went straight to bed.
Day 2 –
I got up really early (I don’t know why), and started the unpleasant walk along the Malahat highway. It wasn’t bad though, and I made it a lot further than I thought possible. Along the way, I took my first picture (a dead deer), and saw some beautiful views of the ocean.
I turned off onto Shawnigan Lake Rd, and the traffic got a lot better. I was able to make it a few km’s past the trail head of the Cowichan Valley Trail. I setup camp just off the side of the trail. When I took off my boots, I noticed that I had developed a blister on my little toe (a funny place… I thought I was going to get them on my heels). I fixed it up with some moleskin, cooked some delicious dinner, and went to bed.
Day 3 –
I had a restless sleep. I think it’s because I don’t think a lot during the day (just walk walk walk walk), then at night, my mind starts to race. It’s either that, or the cold. I think I need to get a book.
I’ve hit snow now… old snow… but it’s still snow, and makes the walking a little slower. The trip today took me further down the Cowichann Valley Trail to the Kinsol Trestle. The Trestle is not passable, so I had to take a bypass route around to another bridge. It took me about 4 hours to get around. When I finally made it back to the main trail, the sight of the broken Trestle was awesome. It just popped out of nowhere, and there it was… looming in the dark afternoon, under a cloudy sky.
I continued along the main trail for a few more hours and finally made it to Glenora. Glenora is a very small town (pop. 300) just west of Duncan. I camped on the side of the road, near a BC Hydro box. That night it snowed snowed snowed.
Day 4 –
When I woke up, it was like an ice box in the tent. The snow on the outside didn’t insulate the tent at all… I hit the sides of the tent, and tones of snow would come sliding off the outside. I got up before the sun, didn’t eat breakfast, packed up all my stuff, and headed into Duncan to find somewhere warm to rest.
I stayed there for about 2 hours, sipping on hot chocolate, and trying to dry out my sleeping bag. I backtracked a bit into town to find an outdoor shop, hoping to find snowshoes and another ground mat (to keep me warmer at night). They didn’t have any snowshoes, but the ground mat they had!
I continued out of town on a small rural road. The snow hadn’t been cleared yet, so the going was slow. Also, my left butt muscle was really starting to hurt. I made it to Chemanus that night, and decide it was about time I stayed indoors. I found a Bed and Breakfast to spend the night at. A really nice lady named Marian owns it and the next morning, she offered that I stay another day for free, as it was snowing, and didn’t look like it was going to stop anytime soon. I took up her offer, and ended up shoveling her sidewalk for the rest of the day (who knew it could snow so much on the island).
Day 5 –
Day 6 –
I took off at around 10:30 (after shoveling one last time). The snow had stopped the night before, and the sun had come out. I was really excited to start walking again. As I walked, I gazed at all the branches that had fallen from the heavy snow. The city’s clean up crew is going to have a few busy days. I guess a lot of people had lost power the past days from trees falling on the power lines. I made it to Ladysmith, where I started to follow the train tracks. I found that if I walk along the rail, and use my walking poles to help balance, I can make pretty good time. I walked for a few hours doing that, until I figured it was about time a train would go by. I hopped off the tracks, and waited for it to pass… but it never came. I setup camp, made some dinner, and then went to bed. Then around 7 o’clock, the train finally passed, and scared the crap out of me (I was half asleep when it blew it’s horn).
Day 7 –
Burrrr…. When I woke up this morning, my sleeping bag had frost on it. My water had turned into slush (it was in the tent!!!). I made porridge, packed up my stuff, and headed for Nanaimo. Somehow my boot had lost one of its hooks to do up the laces (it broke off somewhere). I did my best to do up my boot with the hook missing, but they weren’t as comfortable as before. I’ll have to get them fixed in Nanaimo. I walked the rest of the way along the tracks until I got to the Parkway Trail. It led me into the city of Nanaimo. I stopped by Marie’s Mom’s Café, got a delicious bowl of soup, a hug, and directions to a warm house. That brings me to the present. Tomorrow it will be off to the mainland, and through Vancouver.
Time to do some stretches!