This is a 1st person account of a winter hike I took with my friend in January 2014.
The day had an auspicious start---despite having gone to bed at 1am, I was excited and nervous enough to get up with my alarm, which I had ridiculously set for a 4am wake-up. I spent the morning packing, getting the food ready, and trying to figure out the GPS.
Also on the docket, shave and shower--- I wanted to look good on my hike.
My friend William showed up at around 7:30 with his new wife Amanda, and we spent a couple hours cramming all the gear into our bags. We also ate the breakfast wraps she bought us, figured out the intricacies of the mysterious and wonderful pop-up tent, which was insanely easy to assemble (open it) but insanely hard to figure out the pack back in (draw hoops together horizontally, flip into a burrito shape, inverse the top of the burrito into itself). We also debated back and forth about which boots to take with us, all the while being glowered at by my cheerless father, who didn’t approve of said expedition.
And then….we were OFF.
We made the stock jokes about turning back, moved our packs around on our back, talked about road-signs, and exchanged observations---usual hike stuff.
We also tried to get a sing-a long going, belting out such hits as ‘these boots were made for walking’, ‘King of the road’ ‘I would walk 5000 miles’ but seeing as Will was tone deaf, and I can’t remember lyrics to save my life, the effort was abandoned.
Our first random road trip occurrence (in my opinion the total unpredictability and weirdness of thereof is one of the best part of road-tripping), was when a random dog jumped out of nowhere and licked Wills hand.
It was a pretty big dog and followed us down the highway for a time, nearly getting creamed by a few vehicles. Then after being christened ‘Little Hobo’ for his resemblance to the titular character of the mid-80s Canadian TV show ‘The Littlest Hobo’ (about a dog who would wander around rural Canada solving crimes and otherwise helping people) it took off, to have adventures of its own.
Will was sad to see Littlest Hobo go I think. For the next couple hours. he would crane back and look to see if the dog was following us (it wasn’t). Wills always had a real knack with dogs actually. He loves them, and they always seem to be fond of him, and hilariously would usually end up humping his leg.
He missed his calling as a dog whisperer I think. Like Cesar Millan, but with more leg humping.
Later on the owner drove up and asked if we had seen her dog. Turns out it was being trained for some kind of K-9 police program.
How about that!
After a few hours we had reached our first milestone-- the Monkland city Tim Horton’s restaurant.
For those that don’t know Tim Horton’s, it’s the most Canadian of coffee and doughnut restaurants. There isn’t many brands that have successfully intertwined themselves with the national identity of a country, but T.H has accomplished that. The equivalent of “it’s as American as Apple pie”, it “it’s as Canadian as Tim Horton’s.” Fun fact= “Tim’s” is currently engaged in an expansion down south. So watch your back 'Yanks'---we’re taking over.
We made quite the entrance, kitted out in our outdoor gear, with backpacks with snowshoes attached. We basked in our new-found minor celebrity as middle-aged coffee servers flirted with us, and we told them our story, and had people retell it to new arrivals to the restaurant.
Yes, we were on an adventure--- we were going to hike from Cornwall to Ottawa over 3 days--- using our wits, feet and gritted teeth.
Despite my travel partners distress, due to it being against restaurant rules to eat ‘outside food’ (Wills become a bit of a ‘fuddy duddy’ when it comes to manners of convention in recent years), I busted out some tuna from our pack and assembled us some leaky tuna sandwiches (I didn't know you're supposed to strain the tuna before eating it), with some bonus mustard that I ‘scored’ from a server using our “badass reputation”
A pretty lame capitulation on a reputation, agreed.
We pimped our packs out---Doing necessary adjustments to Wills pack straps which, as it turns out, had been causing a great deal of discomfort to his back. We also transferred the pop-up tent to my pack.
An hour had passed and we were one again pounding the frozen pavement...