I spent blissful hours when I was a child walking along the train trestle that ran behind our rented summer cottage in Pointe-au-Chêne, Quebec. Trekking atop the creosote coloured railway ties, avoiding the crunch of stones between them, or balancing heel-toe-heel-toe on the narrow rails, I scouted for wild blueberries that grew by the sides of the tracks. Back at home in Toronto, a suggestion from my father that we go for a walk down to the Scarborough Bluffs or along Highland Creek would truly make my day.
Somewhere in Halifax
Whenever I travelled (pre-pandemic, I mean), I could spend morning to dusk wandering in new places. My feet have taken me around country and city, ignoring time and lost in the pleasure of a walk. A couple of times I’ve found myself so far from where I was staying that I had to go back by bus! Now, after a year of pandemic isolation and stress, if there’s one thing for which I’m grateful, it’s the opportunity I’ve been given to rediscovered my love of walking. It has not only made me feel physically better, it’s made a tremendous difference to my mental health. And as I’m sure many of us can agree, staying mentally resilient these days can a full time occupation. An added bonus is how walking daily is providing a safe way to visit with friends. A catch-up chat with a pal along a County road can completely lift my mood.
It’s always nice to have a shuttle back to where you left your vehicle after a long hike!
Not once, ever, have I come back from a walk and thought, I wish I had not done that. I always return better.
But now, I’m in need of a challenge. I need to look forward to something other than a vaccine! I want to plan an epic adventure. My dilemma when I initially thought about this was to find something challenging and fun that offered both an end goal and ongoing smaller goals, close to home, so that I can live “in the now” and not just for the dream of a future adventure. My plan? A long, very long, distance walk: The Island Walk in Prince Edward Island to be precise.
You’re doing what?!!!
When the conditions make it possible to do this safely, I aim to walk 700 kilometres around the perimeter of the scenic east coast island of Prince Edward. The added bonus is that I will get to visit my brother and his family while I’m there!
Preparing for this adventure has opened up new avenues and activities to fill the days, from starting to train for longer walks, to watching thru-hiker vlogs in almost real time underway along the Appalachian and the Pacific Coast Trails. I’ve been adding kilometres to my County road walks and on the Millennium and Sandbanks Trails, as well as planning hikes to nearby provincial parks. I’m reading books about long distance hiking and listening to podcasts on the subject (often as I walk). I recently enjoyed, not for the first time, Thoreau’s essay Walking and I have Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods queued up next. I’m also learning pretty funny hiker lingo: a nero (so little mileage that it’s almost a day off), a zero (a day off trail), a P.U.D. (pointless up and down), trail magic (food and necessities found or delivered on trails) and trail angels (people who provide support to hikers out of the goodness of their hearts).
I plan on writing about my walking adventures, and especially about “the big walk” when it happens. By the way, I,d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who read my last blog post and sent encouraging words about my writing. It meant a lot to me. I am currently working on another piece that I hope to share in an upcoming post soon. Until then, I hope you’ll think about doing something fun and challenging for yourself. Spring is on its way. If nothing else, I hope you can go outside for even just a 15 minute walk each day next week and take in the beauty around us. As always, if you find any of the content in this blog useful or entertaining, please consider clicking on “follow”. I would appreciate it. In closing, I leave you with these words from funny man Steven Wright: “Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time”.
Take care and have a great weekend! Christine