Wood Mountain Walk, Day Five

Since I came back from walking in Spain five years ago, I’ve played a little game with myself when driving down highways. It’s called, “Where Would You Camp?” I look for likely spots where one could sleep rough in comfort. Behind those bushes? On top of that rock cutting? Last night, I played the game for real: I slept in a ditch.

There was nowhere else, and it was comfortable enough, and after walking 38 kilometres I didn’t have the energy to search for a better spot. And from what I’ve seen this morning, there probably wasn’t one. After a while the traffic stopped and I lay there listening to the coyotes singing. Eventually I fell asleep.

This morning the walking is hard, despite the cool breeze. Since the turn off to Willow Bunch, the shoulder of the highway is narrower and often broken, leaving ragged chunks of asphalt on the gravel verge where I walk. It’s hard to build up a rhythm when you’re stumbling over them. And the verge is choked with weeds sometimes. It’s a slog.

My feet are sore, too, after yesterday, with bleeding blisters on my left sole. Nothing I can do about that.

My goal today is Mossbank, where there is a hotel and a bar and a restaurant, apparently. I have 21 kilometres to go. Wish me luck.

Later: I’ve made it to Ardill, where the hotel is open and serves lunch–and beer! I may never leave, even though I still have nine kilometres to go.

Still later: Here’s the happy ending. I’m in Mossbank. A 40 kilometre walk today, the farthest I’ve ever walked, and I’m done. The hotel and B&B here are out of business, unfortunately, so I’m off to the campground. Tomorrow will be another long day, but there is definitely a place to stay in Assiniboia and I’ll be there. Too bad the highway has turned out to be such a miserable walk.

Oh, the town boys are calling me “hitchhiker.” “Walker” isn’t part of the vocabulary here. Good to know.