Monday, February 25, 2013

I'm going on an adventure - Part 3

Day 3, Hwy. 15 in Elgin to Smith Falls, 34 kms, 8 hrs 15 min., 37 pictures

First picture of the day.
Day 3 of my journey to hike the length of the Cataraqui trail began almost identical to Day 2. It was just past 7 am, the sun was still low in the sky and I pulled out my huge camera to take the first picture of the day and what??? No battery!! I had done it again, left the battery charging on the wall in my house. Unfortunately I was not across the street today so all I could do was hand my camera back to my Mom("less weight to carry", I thought to myself) and head out cameraless. I wrestled with the idea of not being able to record this section of the trail. I was bummed for sure as I passed the first km marker of the day, #34,  and tried to console myself with the notion that a pictureless hike was still a worthy hike. It is nice to have the pictures though, they are a great way to share with others and as memories fade are so nice to look back upon to relive that time again. As I had almost come to grips with the undeniable fact that there would be no pictures today, a little light bulb went off in my head, "Hey what about that old phone you brought with you, maybe it has a decent camera?"...emergency averted:-)

It was freezing cold as I took the first picture of the day, -20 C and with an off the charts wind chill which was blowing straight through my shoes and into my toes. My feet were freezing and I was only 5mins. into the hike. I had put on a medium weight pair of socks this morning because yesterday my feet were a bit too toasty in the thicker ones I had worn. But today was much colder then yesterday and all I could think about was how I wish I had worn my warmer socks, but what is a girl to do? Well I knew what I should have done, stopped and changed my socks, but I decided to keep moving and wiggled my toes alot and hoped that I would warm-up soon. My hands were not so cold inside my mittens however every time I took a picture with my phone I had do it barehanded because the buttons were not, "huge mitten friendly" at all, imagine that. I did try to keep my mittens on but after accidently dialling China a few times I finally took the darn things off and my hands pretty much froze instantaneously. So my hands were freezing now along with feet, I was not happy, and I knew what I had to do...but I continued to procrastinate doing it of course. I wiggled my toes and fingers some more and in the midst of all this agitation and discomfort it dawned on me that the trail was slowly veering north and I was on my way to Smith Falls.

With that realization, that I was in for a long haul and day of hiking I finally decided to sit myself down and change my socks. Searching through my duffle bag I came across my heat packs, one for hands and the other for feet which I had thrown in there on the first day. Hallelujah,  Hallelujah,  Halle-lu-jah!! So I decided to forgo, "the changing of the socks" and try out the packs which I hoped would be the quicker change. So with my bare freezing hands the process of undoing my Crossovers commenced. I undid the velcro strap , unzipped the attached gaiter, untied my laces, opened my laces, pulled out my foot enough to make room for the heat pack, tightened up my laces, zipped up my gaiter and attached the velcro again. One down one more to go. But my hands were now immobile so I had to warm them up before I could tackle the other shoe. Then I had another light bulb moment, "Hey I can warm them up quicker if I get the hand hot pack out". So I opened the other kind of pack that is different then the one I put in my boot and I quickly read how to use it and it said, "do not put next to skin". "What the heck, how can I use it if it isn't next to my skin, It's not like I have a sock in my mitt like I do in my shoe". Oops, this was the kind I was suppose to put in my shoe and the one that I did put in my shoe was suppose to go in my mitt. F#&/?p;*!!! F#$%&^*!!!!

All was now well inside my layers of clothing.  I had managed to get the correct hot packs into their appropriate homes, my toes were warming up and it felt like I had raging fire in my mittens. I had the hood of my windbreaker snugly over my head and my face warmer pulled over my nose leaving only my eyes exposed to the wind which would batter me relentlessly through the day. This section of trail cuts through farmland, behind family homes, over swamps and lakes and even a Golf Course. Once again the snowmobilers were out in full force. I must say that the people on these machines were very cautious when approaching and passing and always had a wave and a nod of the head for me. I was still hyper-aware of looking for them and began to develop a pain in my neck and back from constantly checking behind me. Sometimes I'd be thinking it was time to check and I'd try to talk myself out of it because I hadn't heard a thing but I'd look anyways and sure enough there'd be 2 or 3 of them waiting for me to get over.

With all of the traffic on the trail it was a bit frustrating trying to find a place to pee etc. without getting caught with my pants down. The trail in most places was raised up from the surrounding ground with ditches on either side filled with deep snow so getting off of the trail was literally impossible at times. I discovered the best way to avoid embarrassment was to find a long straight stretch of trail and to get myself to the middle of it. I could then  hear and see any approaching snowmobilers equally from both directions so would have plenty of time to finish or abort depending on how long a stretch of trail it was;-)

One thing I really liked about hiking today was the eating part. I was always ready to eat, I may have just eaten a sandwich but knowing I had soup in my sled made me hungry for soup or whatever else I knew was in there. It may have been that it was so cold that day but I never put off eating because I knew I'd have to subject my hands to the cold to get to it(my picture taking did suffer though). Also knowing that there was a Tim Horton's at the end of the trail waiting for me with a cup of hot coffee and a bowl of chilli was certainly a motivating factor that kept me moving steadily and helped get me through the day.

The kilometre markers continued the count down for me to the, "beginning" of the line, 20, 10, 5,,,1 and I couldn't help but feel a rush of emotion. I really wish I had a better understanding of why the tears come at these kinds of moments but in some ways, "Why" doesn't really matter. I had set out to accomplish something and the emotions now welling up inside were the reward the universe was giving me for it. It felt good, I was happy, fulfilled and changed. I know that this moment and the rush of emotions accompanying it has somehow rewired my brain so that some part of me will never forget and will always be striving to feel like this again.

The End!



Note the elevation profile of the hill to the right.

The "Medusa" tree.

Only 5 to GO NOW!!

One more, time to break out the tears:-)

The last stretch of trail for me.

Me after hiking 104 kms of  the Cataraqui Tail(photo credit my Mom)

 Tim Horton's awaits.


Sara said...

Nice! Congratulations again, EJ, and thanks so much for sharing it with us. Looking forward to seeing what is next!

Derrick said...

Another great post to cap off the trail. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your journey. I'm sure it's not something you'll ever forget.

Love the photos too...especially that sign going to Plevna!

slowrunner said...

this is a really good report! i laughed at the toe/hand warmer kerfuffle - i can totally relate. and i understand the tears - not the why - but the fact that they happen.

what a kool adventure! thanks for sharing ej !