Monday, June 29, 2009

Walk of Life

It's hard for me not to sing the Dire Straits song "Walk of Life", I am not even sure what that song is about, baseball maybe but I like the refrain, "Do the walk of life". It's up beat and it describes well how I felt when I set out last Saturday. It was a perfect morning, the air was cool when I left at 5:30am, walking up out of my place to the road, the first of many roads I would encounter over the next five and a half hours. The sky was blue and clear and there was a single jet trail heading south above me, the vapor trail fanning out, dispersing into the atmosphere. I consciously slowed my speed from my normal get it done pace. I wanted to savor every step of this walk.

After an hour I arrived in my little town of Everson. It takes me about 7 minutes to drive this distance and it was hard not to see the obvious absurdity of this rather slow mode of transportation but after a short break I soldiered on. My route took me over the Nooksack River and along a sadly short section of the Bay to Baker Trail next to the Mission Rd between Everson and Strandell. I encountered an abandoned mountain bike which got me thinking about the events leading up to it's being left on it's side. I thouhgt maybe someone was in the bushes, perhaps living or merely relieving themselves, but there was no one to be seen and I put it down to mischief. I saw several shoelaces in the road posing as snakes, I saw no snakes. Another hour passed and I really had to pee. This is the worst part of walking the roads, there are no shops to go into and not enough woods either. I noted an abandoned house with overgrown shrubs and positioned myself for a quick whiz. I laughed about it for the next half an hour. I stopped in at a friends house and had a proper clean up, added to my water supply, took a tylenol and carried on. I had been walking for 2 and half hours at this point and it felt strange to be suddenly inside talking to people, my eyes had a hard time adjusting to the small space. On I went along the Central Road up a big hill, I passed a woman running, many cows and a grounded electric fence that snapped at me as I walked along it. I spotted a port-a-potty and made a mental note of it for the future. I bet it was grim inside, port-a-potties always are. I went west for awhile and then turned south again on the Noon Road. I passed the farm where my horse was born. The sun was shining on my left side, I turned my cap a little to shade my cheek. I passed a flat piece of leather with paws, once a possum. Small creatures scampered in the tall grass and I thought about being careful not to stumble into the deep ditches that line the roads. At the corner of Hemmi and Noon I emailed Mark. My left hip was starting to hurt. I kept going, it was about 9, but felt like noon. MT Baker and the Sisters followed me along, shining spectacularly in the sun.

I dropped down into a great curve on the Noon Rd, past a golf course and sat down in a little driveway to doctor my right index toe that seemed to have grown an inch in my runner. I drank more water and thought about taking notes but didn't. I pulled out one of my hard boiled eggs and got back to walking, peeling it as I went. A few cars passed by, but not many. I worried a little about being vulnerable but thought I could easily dissapear into the woods at the edge of the road if I heard one of these cars slow and then come back to trouble me. I had my rape whistle and my pepper spray. By the time I got to the Smith Road I realized my hip was really hurting too much and I felt unsure of the route I could take to get to Pearl's dads house. I emailed Mark again and suggested he look for me on the MT Baker HWY. I was 2 miles away and 4 hours into the walk.

I made it to the Highway and a little beyond before Mark caught up to me in the big red car. I hadn't anticipated how hard it would be to walk the last few miles on the edge of the highway. The shoulder is narrow and I tried to make my self small, keeping my elbows in and my head down. It was nerve wracking as I felt pretty wobbly after 5 hours of moving I focused on not stumbling.

I didn't make it to the Boundary Bay Brewery for a beer as originally envisioned. But, as Mark pointed out it was only 11am. We picked up Pearl and went and sat downtown, had a coffee and watched the world pass by. It felt good to sit still and collect my thoughts about what I had just accomplished.

There was a point during the walk where I just felt I could go on forever, step after step. Take one and then take one more and who knows where you might end up. We figured I had walked almost 18 miles which I felt quite pleased by.


stacee said...

I'm blown away by your strength, Rowan. This was an amazing undertaking and as far as I'm concerned you more than rose up to the challenge. Good on ya.

syd said...

Good for you, Rowan. What a feat. (Get it? Feat?)

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