Walk Across Canada – Days 1-7

This post is a compilation of my daily field notes on Facebook.  If you would like to see them daily, you can follow me here.

Day 1 – Walk Across Canada.

Quick update on day 1 of the walk across Canada before I go look for a place to pitch my tent. Sun sets in a few minutes and the I’ll have ambient light for only a short while to find a stealthy spot.
I walked for 10 hours 25 minutes today, well over my goal of 8 hours. I think I walked a solid 60 kms because it’s only 30 kms to Truro, which I optimistically hoped I could walk in two long days. I ended up with a couple of blisters, one which burst and was quite painful. I stopped and dressed it to prevent infection.
The police visited me to check in. There was a complaint because someone thought I had a child in the stroller and was walking on a busy highway. I have the support of the police now all the way to Quebec. It didn’t hurt that when I was asked for ID, I produced my veterans card. 😊
Thank you all for your awesome support. ❤️❤️❤️

Halifax, from the Halifax Harbour.

Al is ready to go.

Day 2 – Walk Across Canada Summary

Had a great sleep in the forest behind Tim Hortons last night. I slept for 8 1/2 hours and slept through my alarm. I guess I was pretty tired. Hehe.
Of course I had breakfast at Tim Hortons which has become my go to place to eat.
To summarize the day, I was in a lot of pain. I didn’t get any new blisters, but my whole body was just sore, sore, sore.
I walked today for a little over nine hours which was over my goal of eight hours. So even though I was sore I was quite pleased with my productivity.
The highlight of my day occurred when I was at my worst, when I had the most pain. A couple of young 25-year-olds stopped on the highway ahead of me and got out to greet me. They asked me what I was doing and I told them and then they told me I was simply awesome and they gave me a big bottle of water and some apples. Considering their car and their dress, I think they could afford to buy these gifts for me, but they did anyway. I was so filled with joy that I thanked them profusely. What a great gift at just the right time in my day. I’m so thankful.
Right now I’m comfy in my bed in my tent in a nice quiet forest near the highway.
I saw some people in a wheelchair today. I thought that I’m so lucky to be able to walk, even though I was in a lot of pain It is such a great gift to be able to put one foot in front of the other.
So now my pretties, it’s time for me have a protein bar and go to sleep. The forecast tonight is rain and snow. Yikes! Brrrr.

The view from my tent

Day 3 – Walk Across Canada

Well it was a cold night last night. Poor Kitty and Al were covered in snow.
And of course Al was whining and wondered why he couldn’t be in the tent with me. I explained to him that his job in exchange for a free ride across Canada was to be a companion for Kitty and to guard the campsite at night. We don’t want Kitty to get lonely or she might rebel. And a rebellious cheetah is not something we want. We would have to carry all the kit ourselves and you know that I’m not carrying the duffel bag. Al agreed but asked for something to keep him warm. So I made him a blanket that you can see in the picture.
Two things today: Wind and hills. There were lots of hills today which would not have been a problem except for the strong, unrelenting, ice cold wind blowing straight at me all day long. Even with two pairs of gloves, I still had to drive Kitty with one hand while I beat the other hand against my thigh to restore circulation. And then I would switch hands.
I had a visit with Porcupine, which was nice.
I managed to get nine hours of walking in today, finishing just in time to set up my tent, brush my teeth, and slide into my sleeping bag before sunset.

Al in his warm blanket.

Day 4 – Walk Across Canada

Great sleep last night. And such a perfect stealthy spot. And Al appreciated the blanket. He also asked me, “If danger is approaching, how can I warn you?” I laughed and said, “You’re a genius, you’ll figure it out.” Sadly, Al didn’t laugh with me. He just sat there nodding his head. Sigh.

Milestone today. I crossed from Nova Scotia into New Brunswick. It took 3 1/2 days. It’s the province with the shortest distance, so it’s only a small milestone. Still, it’s good for morale.

The theme for today is ‘Odd bits of trash you see on the side of the highway’. Please take a look at the photos.
But first, a skill-testing question. What type of garbage will you most frequently see on the side of the highway in Nova Scotia, and by a large margin over other garbage? Think about it and I’ll put the answer at the end of this post. Here’s number two and three most frequently seen garbage: 2) power drink bottles and cans, and, 3) beer cans. I seriously could finance this whole trip if I wanted to take the time to pick up all of the refundable bottles along the highway.

Had a police visit again today. He stopped only to say hi and ask me if I needed anything. What a good RCMP chap. I also saw a police station on the side of the highway, so I dropped off that license plate that you see in the photo, since it was still valid.

Had cheery greetings from Crow, Hawk, Goose, Heron, Loon, and Duck, although I think Duck’s greeting was more of a scolding for disturbing him and his girlfriend. It is that time of year, you know. I just smiled and pretended I didn’t know what they were doing behind that bush.

Had a good look down toward the Bay of Fundy today. Looks like I caught it at low tide.

And now for the more delicate topic of personal hygiene. Long-distance hikers know that dirt gets into the nooks and crannies of the body and as one walks, things start to get raw. So when the pain in my unmentionable parts needed attention, I moistened a cloth with water from my water bottle, and while traffic was driving by, I managed to reach behind and clean my unmentionable parts. And then I did the dance in front of traffic to apply Lanacane. I sure felt better afterward. But, shhh, don’t tell Al that it was his blanket I used to clean myself.

Walked another nine hours today, so I’m pleased with my progress. Looking forward to a shower and a bed tomorrow night. Right now, I’m cozy in my sleeping bag, hiding in the forest.

And now, the answer to the most frequently seen garbage on the side of the highway: Tim Horton’s coffee cups.

Discarded along the highway.

Day 5 – Walk Across Canada

Let’s start this post off with a question. How many banana peels, in various states of decomposition, do you think I saw on the side of the highway today? To make it easy, if you can guess within ten, you win. I’ll put the answer at the end of the post.

While hiding Kitty last night in the forest, Al was knocked off his perch by a branch and he fell to the ground. I thought he would be angry, but instead, he was quite jovial. He said, “Let’s do it again!” So I reattached him, and, sure enough, he fell off again. It was pretty thick bush after all. I left him there on the forest floor while I set up camp. When I came back, he said, “I sure like the view from here.” So I covered him in his blanket and went to bed.

A tip: instead of eating your protein bar right away on a freezing cold morning, stick it in your pocket for an hour while you walk. Then it will be chewy and not break your teeth up into little bits and pieces. Also, you can truthfully say, “No, madam, that’s actually a protein bar in my pocket.”

What a fabulous day for walking. It was cool and the sun was warming me up. Things seem to be improving, in that I walked a full three hours today before my feet started hurting. On previous days, after pretty much five seconds, my feet would be screaming bloody murder.

Legs are in better shape. After an excruciating second day, when
I thought those appendages that had carried me through 45 seasons of soccer were to become my weakest link, they have finally succumbed to the taunting of my other body parts and are starting to ache less and less.

Had lovely chats with Goose and Duck today, but gosh, were they ever chatty. Finally I just had to stand up and say, “I’m sorry fellas, but I just have to go.”

Tonight will be my first night hosted by a trail angel. Her name is Nicole, husband Troy, referred to me by my good friend, Derrick Steeves. I’ll have to post this before she picks me up so that I can be social, so I wanted to share a text she just sent me. In addition to a shower and clean bed, she says: “Ok going to make a Greek Salad and a Mushroom Pesto Penne with parm. And if you have a sweet tooth [which I do], I make the best peanut butter pie!”
Oh man! Can’t wait!
Aren’t people the best?

And the answer to the question about the number of banana peels I saw in the side of the road today: 5

Nicole preparing her delicious penne recipe.

Day 6 – Walk Across Canada

First off, a big thank you to Nicole Myers and her husband Troy, for hosting me last night. We were strangers and now we are friends. And thanks to Derrick Steeves for the connection.
Nicole is a great cook, and I’m so thankful to have tried her Mushroom Pesto Penne, Greek Salad, and, not one, but TWO pieces of her peanut butter pie. Delicious!
I enjoyed my first shower since I started. Nothing like a little bit of hot water to let you know where you’re chafing. Yowee!
Nicole and Troy live along a river that feeds into the Bay of Fundy
So twice a day, the tidal bore rolls by. The tidal bore is a wave caused when the tide begins to rise, so Bay of Fundy water is moving up river at the same time the river is trying to flow to the Bay. Troy took me out to the backyard to watch it go by. What a fascinating phenomena. No photo, though. It was very dark.

Kitty slept cozily in Nicole’s car, so Al could sleep with me. As I was falling asleep, I asked Al if the speed of the tidal bore was a constant, and what equation that included volume of water, angle of the riverbed, etc, would determine the constant. And then I fell asleep and dreamed of mathematical symbols.

In the morning at breakfast, Nicole and I greeted Squirrel and Squirrel, but they were in a hurry running along the power line, so they didn’t have time to stop and chat.

It’s rained all day, which is fine. What the rain and
15 hours of footrest did was allow me to walk for 7
1/2 hours without taking a break. Crazy. I know.
And of course this meant that the memos are flying around the office.

(Memo exchange between Feet and Brain)

Feet: Hey you guys up there, we’ve been walking a long time and we’re sore and we’re wondering if, you know, you were going to take a break soon. And by the way, whose brilliant idea was it to put us in hiking sandals? Didn’t anybody think that the rain would just pour in on top of us with sandals?

Brain: We selected the sandals based on a bio-chemical-ortho calculation to reduce blisters and maximize your performance. Incidentally, we are three kms from a Timmy’s. Hopefully you can hold out until we get there. We are very proud of you fellas. Keep up the good work.
(Brain leans toward Al: “Psst, Al, I told them we were only three kms from Timmy’s. hahahahaha”)

Feet: Ok. We’ll suck it up until Timmy’s. By the way, what’s a bio-chemical-ortho calculation?

Brain: Sorry Feet, that information is above your pay grade.

(45 minutes later)
Feet: Hey up there. We must be at Timmy’s by now.

Brain: Yes. Sorry, it was, er, closed.

Feet: Well, we still need a break.

Brain: Ok, if you guys can answer this easy mathematical question, we will stop immediately. What’s 2 + 2?

Feet: 3?

Brain: No

Feet: 6?

Brain: No

Feet: How about 22?

Brain; No

Feet: Are you sure it’s not 22?

Brain: Quite sure.

Feet: Well, we don’t know the answer. We still need a break anyway.

Brain: i’m sorry, but that’s the policy. You have to answer the question correctly.

(Memo exchange between Feet and Bladder)

Feet: Hey Bladder. Aren’t you full up there? Don’t you need a break?

Bladder: No. I’m empty.

Feet: How?

Bladder: Don’t you remember waddling along the highway earlier when there wasn’t any traffic?

Feet: Oh yeah.

(Memo exchange between Feet and Stomach).

Feet: Hey Stomach. We’ve been walking a long time. Aren’t you hungry?

Stomach: No. while you’ve been working so hard, they’ve been feeding me peanuts, chocolate, and water.

Feet: What the…? How about doing us a favour? We’re desperate for a break. We’re in a lot of pain.

Stomach: What’s in it for me?

Feet: We promise not to slip anymore toenail clippings into your food supply.

Stomach: Ewwwww, ok we have a deal.

(Memo from Stomach to Brain): Brain, stop for a break. I’m ready to vomit all over Al and Kitty.

(Announcement from Brain). Whoa! Ok everyone, pull over for a break.Supply, bring up the Pop Tarts. They always calm Stomach.

(Memo from Feet to Stomach): Thanks buddy.

(Memo from Stomach to Brain): Please make sure there are no toenail clippings in the Pop Tarts. Thank you.

Checking pop tarts for toenail clippings.

Well, I walked for
9 1/2 hours today and fell into my tent completely exhausted. I’ll have to be careful in future so that I don’t get into trouble.I need to pay more attention to my body late in the day. I’m fine now though. Water and all kinds of food helped.

I’m in a cozy spot for the night and the temperature will be warm, so I’m a happy camper.

Sleep well, my pretties.

Stealth camping along the highway

Day 7 – Walk Across Canada

Well, my friends. I really made a critical error in judgement last night that could have ended badly. The details are below.

But first, a huge thank you to Kelly and Layla for driving over an hour one way from St John just to have a picnic with me on the highway. They brought me cupcakes, home-made breakfast bars, peanuts, M&Ms, toilet paper, and BEER. Yes, I had a can of Keith’s. it is the maritimes after all. I stuffed my face with veggie wraps. So good. And of course Al loved the attention. (check out the photos) Thanks so much again, my friends.

What a beautiful day for walking! It got up to +21 C today, and by mid morning, I was down to a t-shirt and my safety vest.

Saw my first mosquito this morning buzzing around my tent. And I found a Loonie on the highway! Woohoo!

Met a gang of highway workers this morning taking down signs.
Worker: How far you walking?
Me: To Vancouver.
Worker (choking): Lord jeezus! Crazy!
Me (looking at my watch): Well, I probably won’t make it all the way there today.
Worker: Haha. I guess not. Good luck to ya.

I wasn’t sure how much of this I was going to share, but here you go. I gave myself a scare last night. I was thoroughly exhausted after about 8 hours of walking, but I had it in my head to do 9:30 of walking, and by gosh, nothing was going to stop me from hitting that target. I should have stopped, but I kept going. After a while, I began to stagger occasionally along the highway, trying to stay balanced and focused. Finally, at 9:26 of walking, I slipped into the forest. I could barely stand on my feet and was leaning heavily on Kitty. It took me twenty minutes to put up my tent, normally a 4-5-minute job. I put the fly on upside down, and then it kept getting twisted. I just couldn’t focus on the task. When the tent was finally up, I threw my kit inside and collapsed on it. I could feel the heat emanating from my face. I still had enough brain power to realize I needed to eat and drink as much as I could. Once I did that, I had a bit of energy to prepare my air mattress and sleeping bag. I must have had a fever because when I woke up this morning, my sleeping bag was saturated.

I was better in the morning, although light-headed with a bit of a headache. I did neck stretches as I walked in the morning.

My lesson is that I absolutely must pay attention to my body. It’s ok to push it, but I knew last night that I had crossed the line. I mean, I really knew it, even while I was crossing it. If it had been 15 degrees colder, I could have been in serious trouble.
I probably wouldn’t have made this same mistake if I was hiking in the backcountry. I respect that when I’m hiking alone, I have to be careful about my health and safety. In the Canadian Rockies for instance, there are large areas without cell service. Perhaps walking along the highway, often close to civilization, with a reliable phone, has made me a bit cocky. But now the lesson is learned. I won’t make this mistake again.

Today, I’m back to basics. Start with a protein and vitamin shake, even though it tastes awful. Regular breaks. Lots of water.

In the end today, I walked ten hours and finished strongly. Must have been Kelly’s and Layla’s good cooking.

Al getting attention from Layla and Kelly

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2 comments… add one
  • Rick Malone May 17, 2017

    Interesting account of your daily journey Dave. It should make for some interesting reading well after your trip is history. Please keep up the daily entries. It’s a great way to actually get a glimpse of what is going on in your mind as you make your way along.

    • Dave May 20, 2017

      Thanks so much, Rick.

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