Monday Morning Musings

Posted on August 19, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

Xanadu? No. Fairmont in the fog.


“But I would walk 500 miles,

And I would walk 500 more.”

I’m Going to Be (500 miles) The Proclaimers

When I have absolutely nothing else to talk about, I always come back to my old standby – walking. You’re excused if you want to go and check your twitter feed or pat the dog rather than waste five minutes listening to me harangue about fitness, the glories of nature and meditative walking.

But what if you actually moved on to paragraph two and realized that this post was actually about peeing in the woods?

There. I knew that would get your attention.

I didn’t walk 500 miles on Saturday but it sure as hell felt like it. As a final tune up for my Cabot Trail walk next weekend, I decided to tackle a fairly onerous piece of real estate. To my Camino friends who happen to be reading this post, the Cabot Trail is a famous stretch of road covering 300 kilometres in the province of Nova Scotia where I live. It is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It has mountains and valleys and the ocean is never far away. It is a tourist mecca. Most sensible people travel by vehicle, motorcycle or bicycle. Very few people have actually walked it. I have never been accused of being sensible.

My walk on the weekend is often referred to as the “mini Trail” as it has many of the characteristics of its more famous cousin. I decided that I needed a final test before heading into the highlands next week. There is one stretch of the Cabot Trail that has no amenities whatsoever for 43K. It is mountainous, spectacular and barren. The only lodging that I’m aware of is a bear’s den.

The weather forecast for last Saturday looked absolutely perfect. The day time highs were supposed to be around 23 with virtually no humidity. I headed out at 5:30 a.m. and it was downright chilly for the first few hours. Banks of fog shrouded the hills and vales of Antigonish as the sun rose majestically. So many people never get to witness this, not being early morning risers but if you want to get a glimpse of paradise, check it out some day – just in case you don’t make it there!

By late morning, it was noticeably warmer as I headed into the teeth of the walk, a long, slow 20K climb from Malignant Cove up to the Lighthouse Road just before my final destination at Ballantyne’s Cove. If you ever want to test your endurance, try this walk someday but make sure you have a support vehicle carrying beer and ice cream. I knew this already but the folks living along the 245 and 337 are kind, generous and warm people. Some of them opened their doors for me so that I could rest and hydrate. From my many years of running marathons, I know that drinking plenty of fluids is crucial. When it’s hot outside, you must pay attention and keep drinking water to avoid heat stroke.

One one of my stops was on Xanadu Road. “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan; a stately pleasure-dome decree”. (Samuel Taylor Coleridge). I was hosted by good friends where I rested and ate my lunch. I don’t quite know how we got on to the esoteric topic of peeing in the woods but my host suggested that this might be a good title for a future book. “Peeing in the Woods. Rediscovering Nova Scotia by foot, on the Cabot Trail.” (With apologies to Bill Bryson!) When you’re drinking a lot of fluids, frequent trips to the woods are required, especially when you’re 68. Actually, at my age, you don’t have to drink very many fluids before heading to the john!

I would discover later, that the temperature nearly reached 30 degrees. I admit that this may have been the most difficult walk I’ve ever had. As I struggled over the last 5K, my thoughts were about two people struggling with serious health problems. I decided that my struggles were quite minor and stuffed self- pity into my knapsack.

After 20K of uphill walking, the last 2K is on a severe downslope. I thought about curling myself into a ball and rolling down the hill to the wharf at Ballantyne’s Cove. I was treated to a great feed at Fish ‘N’ Ships. They serve the best fish and chips in this part of the world. For the first time since I was a kid, I had a neapolitan ice cream. I am so grateful to Karen for supplying sustenance at the end of a long day.

I stared blissfully out at the ocean and realized that life was good.

“For he on honey-dew hath fed,

And drunk the milk of paradise.”

Kubla Khan. Samuel Talyor Coleridge

Have a great week.

P.S. I will continue to collect donations for Simone MacDonald until I finish the Cabot Trail walk. We’re inching up to $3,000. My goal is $5,000. You can send me an e-transfer at or send me a cheque by snail mail at 8-9B Court Street, Antigonish, N.S. B2G 1Z7



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