Reading and Walking

Walking, Reading, and Reading about Walking

Month: June, 2016

Last Training Walk Before the Haldimand Tract

Tomorrow I leave for Ontario and my walk through the Haldimand Tract. Today I’m going to be looking after last-minute details. So yesterday was my last day for a training walk, and I took advantage of the opportunity.

walk june 8

I walked around the small half of the lake with Christine, then headed out to the east end. It was hot–31 degrees–and, for the prairies, humid: in other words, almost the kind of weather I can expect in southwestern Ontario. And I’m not used to it. That could be a problem. Over the last five kilometres or so, I could feel the symptoms of heat exhaustion coming on–headache, muscle weakness, nausea–despite drinking lots of water and all my electrolyte mixture. This morning my legs are still covered in heat rash. There doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about my reaction to the heat except to push through it. So that’s what I’m going to do.



I’ve walked this route many times now, but it still holds surprises: a Baltimore oriole in an elm tree beside the lake, a flock of Bohemian waxwings feeding on a cotoneaster bush, and the heavy smell of a field of purple milk vetch, an indigenous prairie plant. I don’t know what kind of milk vetch it was: Missouri? two-groove? I have no idea; my botanical knowledge only goes so far. But it was quite lovely.





My pack was full with almost everything I’ll be carrying through the Haldimand Tract, and so it was heavier than usual. The weight of the food was the difference. That bag of food isn’t only heavy. It also takes up a lot of space, which means I have to hang stuff on the outside of the pack: a pouch of things I need easy access to, a first-aid kit, my sandals. The result is untidy, even messy. That’s okay. I’d need a slightly bigger pack–a 40-litre, say, instead of the 38-litre I carry–to be able to carry everything inside. Today I’ll go over everything in my pack to see if there’s anything I can leave at home. You never know: maybe there’s something that’s not absolutely necessary and can be left behind.





This is my last blog post here until the end of my walk through the Haldimand Tract. I’ll be writing about that experience on my other blog: Muscle and Bone. I hope you’ll check it out.



Walking for Fort McMurray

Just in case you think my walks around town are difficult, a fellow from Sioux Lookout, Ontario, named Stanley Barkman is on a 2,000 kilometre walk to Fort McMurray to raise money for that community after it was devastated by wildfires last month. Now that’s a pretty amazing walk. Barkman and his two friends have been on the road for a month already. Read about this tremendous walk here, and take a look at their Facebook page.


Michael Leunig’s “How to Get There”

My Australian Camino buddy Neil Millar suggested that I take a look at Michael Leunig’s cartoon and poem “How to Get There,” and it’s too good not to share.


I think that is how you get there: by keeping on with it, one step at a time. Thanks, Neil, for letting me know about Leunig’s work.

Another Walk Around Town

What would it look like to walk 32 kilometres–20 miles–around town? Today, it looked like this:

walk june 2.jpg

It wasn’t the most exciting walk, I’ll give you that. I walked out to the east end of the city and ate a sandwich. Then I walked to the south end and drank an iced latte. Then I headed north again, towards home. Along the way, I saw lots of birds and flowers and rabbits and gophers, and even more tent caterpillars. In some places, the sidewalk is black with their droppings and the trees have been stripped bare.



If it’s not the most interesting walk in the world, why do it? The answer is easy: I found out last summer what happens when you attempt a big walk without getting ready for it–you have to quit early because of blisters and exhaustion–and I don’t want that to happen this time. So I walk all over town, hoping the kilometres will make a difference when I’m on the road in two weeks.



I ran into one of my colleagues, Craig Melhof, and we chatted briefly about what I’m up to and what he’s doing. And a young fellow at Starbuck’s–a pipefitter, originally from Ottawa, who likes living in Alberta better than living here because of the mountains–told me to make sure I take good pictures with my camera. I’m doing my best, although sometimes I know I need to take more time composing the shot than I do. I’m always eager to get walking again.



Once again, no blisters, which is very encouraging. And I made it home before the thunder started! What else could you ask for?





From One Leopold’s to Another and Back Again

walk june 1

Where to walk? I asked myself. We’ve had a lot of rain and I didn’t feel like walking down muddy gravel roads out in the country. Maybe, I thought, I could walk up to the new Leopold’s location, the one in the northwest, have a beer, and walk home again. And that’s what I did: walking on the creekside footpath until it ended, and then along the side of the road to Rochdale, where I turned east. I’ve walked this route many times, but it still holds surprises, including a stand of burr oaks and some lilacs with spherical clusters of blossoms. I saw lots of birds, too, including a surprising number of brown thrashers, and lots of cyclists and dog walkers. A passing cyclist asked me what I was training for. He’d heard of the Haldimand Tract; he moved here from Barrie. He wished me luck and headed on his way.



There are lilacs blooming everywhere at the moment. If they’re not the Queen City’s official flower, maybe they should be.



After a couple of hours, I was standing in front of the newest iteration of Leopold’s Tavern. Of course I had a drink and a sandwich. This location has the same omnipresent smell of bacon as the one around the corner from our house. Maybe it’s an artificial scent they use to encourage people to eat more, the way that there’s a spray that realtors use to make your house smell like fresh bread. Or maybe their patrons just eat a lot of bacon.



Then I headed back south. Walking along city streets was quicker than walking along the winding creek, but not as pleasant, of course. After I’d left the house I’d gotten an e-mail from the printer telling me that the cards I want to hand out while I’m walking in Ontario are ready, and so I walked over to Albert Street to pick them up. Then home, past the original Leopold’s, and a group of cyclists with matching t-shirts who are riding from Vancouver to St. John’s. I’ve often wondered what that trip would be like. Maybe someday I’ll find out. The woman I talked to was impressed that I’m planning to walk 300 kilometres in Ontario; maybe it was the idea of walking instead of cycling. I forgot to take their picture until they were heading across the street. I’m not used to asking strangers if I can take their photograph. I’d better get used to it, though, and fast.



Altogether, I walked 25 kilometres today, again without blisters, and at a reasonable pace. I’m starting to feel more confident that I’ll be ready for my big walk in Ontario. I’ll find out soon enough if that’s true–I’m leaving next week! After all the planning and thinking and writing about that walk, it’s hard to believe that it’s about to happen.