I finally decided to begin “actual” training for my 800 KM trek. Tucker and I walked around the South end of the lake to the beach directly opposite the cottage (11 KM). My new Lowa hiking boots needed the breaking in (felt amazing) and my Osprey backpack was incredibly comfortable.
(YUP – I ALWAYS WEAR A FOOTBALL HELMET WHEN I HIKE. Or I could be holding up my iPhone to take this shot.)
It reminded me of the first time I ever took off and went “walk-about” with a backpack. I was around 15/16 and it was my umpteenth (Wow, no spellcheck prompt? I can’t believe that’s a real word. Thought it was just something my mom used to say.) time running away from home. My parents and I were fighting, again, because I dropped out of school, again, and I didn’t want to get a job. So I borrowed a backpack and hitchhiked around Southern Ontario in order to try and “find myself.” (Apparently, that mission is still ongoing. I used to think that I was a seeker, trying to find somewhere to land. Now, I wonder if seekers are always seekers because – they’re seekers.)
I haven’t thought about that trip for a very long time. (Queue Wayne’s World Dream Sequence Music)
I remember being picked up while I was thumbing for a ride by some university guys who took me back to their apartment to crash for the night. That’s where I discovered that I get really motion sick whenever I smoke weed or do hash. I also learned how to do hot-knives/bottle tokes.
I remember being lost on some desolate, back-woods, country road, realizing that I would never find a place to stay before it got completely dark. Walking in unfamiliar territory at dusk was playing tricks with my eyes. And my ears apparently, because I started hearing the sound of waves repeatedly crashing up against the shore like the ocean. HOLY CRAP! HOW FAR HAD I BEEN WALKING? Turns out that I was near one of the Great Lakes (Erie – well named for what’s coming next) and it was a windy night, so the waves were unusually large. It took a while, but I eventually found what seemed to be some sort of deserted campground with a few empty buildings and rocks scattered around the property. I laid down underneath a big ‘ol tree (’cause that’s what you do, right?) and tried to get some sleep. To this day, that night was one of the most sleepless night’s I’ve ever had. My mind began really screwing with me. Maybe it was because I was a teenage boy with an overactive imagination? Or, maybe it was because by this time in my life I had already helped out with various procedures in my family’s funeral home, including the removal of bodies from suicide & homicide scenes. I heard unrecognizable noises and felt an evil all around me. Finally, well past the state of exhaustion and without the aid of any light, I rummaged around in the moonless night and found a large stick. With this perceived protection by my side, I was able to drift in and out of consciousness. When dawn finally broke, I gathered my wits and slowly opened my eyes. There was a sign about 30 feet to my left. Trying to focus, I could barley make out what it said. OH MY GOD! You’ll never guess where I had chosen to sleep for the night. NOW I know why I sensed the erie presence of evil all night! It… was… a… (you really want me to say cemetery don’t you!)… campground for The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints!! MORMONS! BAHAHAHAHAHA! (Back then I had just become an Evangelical Christian and I was taught that people like Mormons were EVIL! Sorry Mormons.)
I remember staying at the house of a family I knew. (For the sake of privacy I can’t go into too much detail about who and where they lived.) I don’t think I’ve ever spoken about this before. For some reason, the woman (who would have been decades older than me) was sitting beside me on a bed watching TV. Her kids had gone to their rooms to sleep, but there was another woman visiting with her and she was also in the room. My memory is vague, but at some point this older woman and I began making out. I can still remember that her tongue wasn’t as smooth as other girls I’d kissed that were my age. Maybe because of guilt on her part or inexperience on my part, it never went any further. I left the next morning with a lot of things to think about as I hitchhiked to my next destination.
I remember having to sleep in the stairwell of a church in Brampton that I’d been to before, because it was a dark and stormy night. I desperately needed to get out of the cold rain and at this point in my travels I was also in desperate need of a good night’s sleep. Being a new Christian, I figured all would be safe on a church property. Before the sun had risen I was startled awake by a light that turned on above the door I was sleeping under. As I turned my head to figure out what was happening, I saw an old man’s face peering at me from inside the window on the industrial door. I shut my eyes quickly and pretended I was still asleep. After a few minutes I got up the nerve to check and see if the creepy old man was still staring at me. He was gone. And so was I!
SO ANYWAY… nothing wild happened during my hike to the other side of the Lake this week. I guess I really am wiser than when I was 15/16. I don’t need to try drugs. I’m not scared of Mormons. I don’t like women that are decades older than me. (cause they would be in a nursing home these days and that’s just creepy). I don’t go to church anymore. Not even to sleep in their stairwells. If I had known then what I know now… ahhhh who knows. Given the right set of circumstances, anyone can do anything!
At one point during the 11 KM’s trek this week, I had to walk along the shoulder of a pretty busy road. I wondered what the strangers in each vehicle thought about seeing some bearded dude and his dog backpacking along the side of the road. So I decided to pull a Johnny Barnes. (Google Bermuda’s Mr. Happy Man) No I didn’t wave and blow kisses and tell each passing person that I loved them. (I’m saving that for retirement.) I just decided to smile as they drove by me. Why not! They’ll either think that I something just made me smile OR that I’m just another wandering weirdo. Either way, I know from personal experience that a stranger’s random smile has always made me think – about smiling!
Earlier that morning, I had towed the two seater kayak behind the one seater, to the beach across from the cottage. That way, when Tucker and I arrived after walking around the bottom half of the lake, we could hop in and go for a short paddle back to the cottage. (After we both soaked our feet in the water for a bit and Tucker drank enough to lower the water level by an inch!)
THIS WEEK’S CONFESSION(s): I full on made out with an older divorced woman when I was 15 / I get sick every time I do drugs / I think about what strangers think far too much / If I had to do life over again… nahhhh nevermind. It’s the journey not the destination. At least that’s what wise people have told me.