July 13th, 2007
We picked up another traveler today. But it’s not an inconvenience since this guy is only the size of my thumb nail. During my morning break, I was going through my regular routine of mixing up a snack of yogurt and fruit when I got a little unexpected surprise. I opened the fruit salad and found a hairy little spider staring up at me. But this was no ordinary spider. I’ve never seen one like this. It almost looks like it’s carrying a small rock on its back. Very unusual. My theory is that it’s from Guatemala and smuggled its way in as an illegal alien with a shipment of blackberries. With the amount of rain we’ve been getting lately, you’d think we killed it (you know the old saying), but for whatever reason my dad has decided to keep the little bugger in a jar. I don’t know how long we’ll keep it. My mom and I aren’t to keen on having it in the RV with us.
I just want everyone to know that although I may not be able to respond to each comment posted, I do read them all. Actually, I have to approve them all before they are posted on the site. So keep them coming! I love hearing from everyone.
There’s a breeze coming off Lake Superior today, but fortunately I’m heading North. So it’s more of a cross wind and isn’t affecting my progress nearly as much as yesterday’s debacle. The temperature is significantly cooler and is producing horrid flashbacks in my mind to the early days in Newfoundland. I even resorted to wearing gloves today!
The hills of Northern Ontario are definitely in full affect now. Fairly early into my morning I was faced with a monster climb. But I’m always up for a good challenge… especially when I know that I’ll be going down the other side! Near the summit I glanced over to my right only to see a terrifying sight. Just off the side of the road beside the tree line was a huge timber wolf. Its eyes were yellow as the sun as they gazed hungrily at my every stride. It was salivating heavily with long white fangs protruding from it’s mouth. I watched helplessly as it crouched and prepared to lunge towards me. Suddenly, almost as if it knew it would be no match for my power, it turned and darted into the shadows of the forest. Now that I look back at the situation, I can’t help but think ‘Maybe it wasn’t a wolf at all. Maybe it was just a coyote. And maybe it wasn’t getting ready to pounce on me. Maybe when heard my wheels, it turned and ran away on instinct.’ Yes, that makes more sense.
I have been anticipating this very day ever since starting my skate on May 5th. What’s so special about today? Well, for those of you who have seen footage from Terry Fox’s run through this part of Ontario, you may recall his encounter with the infamous Montreal River Hill. It really stuck in my memory because I can remember seen footage of him struggling up the mountain with blood trickling down his artificial leg. It was one of those defining moments to me that immortalized Terry. It showed his determination, perseverance and selflessness. Regardless of the pain and blood, he fought his way up and conquered the hill. I could only imagine how difficult the climb would be for me on wheels today. But I have been looking forward to this ascent for a long time. The hill had a few bends and turns but the slope remained fairly constant until the very top some 3 kilometers from the base. Although it probably wasn’t necessary to push myself so hard as I staggered upward, I felt an obligation to overcome this hill as fast as I could. Upon reaching its peak, I climbed the Montreal River Hill on rolleblades in 14 minutes. I’m sure it’s no record by any means, but considering I had completed 50 km before arriving at the base, I was overwhelmed with my achievement. These will forever be 3 of my most memorable kilometers on my 10,000 km journey.
As I entered Lake Superior Provincial Park, I couldn’t help but realize the deceptiveness that was unfolding in front of me. Visually, the hills seemed to be continually on a downward slope. My eyes had me convinced that I was heading down a gentle grade. But my legs were in disagreement. Physically, my body was letting me know that the road was definitely angled upward. It’s funny how the brain interprets its surroundings. It’s a bit frustrating to think you should be picking up speed as you roll down a hill only to feel the drag of gravity pulling you in the other direction.
The afternoon brought more challenges. I had only skated a couple of kilometers after lunch before the rain started. The wet and coldness combined for miserable conditions. I could see the clouds were almost ready to break, but the rain just kept on falling. I decided to take a short break at rest area in the Park where there is a trail leading to ancient Native pictographs painted on the rocks by the shore. We hiked in to the designated area where a Parks employee was stationed to point out the paintings. It’s a good thing she was there because I would have walked right past them. As historical interesting as the pictographs may be, They were about as exciting as the petrified bear I told you about in Peggy’s Cove. And if you don’t remember, it wasn’t exciting. However, the hike was gorgeous. The beautiful shoreline, unique trees and jagged rocks made for amazing scenery. I can see why The Group of Seven focussed so much attention on this area for their artwork.
Yesterday’s fiasco lit a little fire inside me. Northern Ontario was one up on me and I was determined to get the upper hand today. So after stopping for dinner, I felt that I wanted to continue skating a little bit longer. I was hoping to get some extra miles in with my dry skates, but the rain started up again. I have had to change my skates more times today than any other single day on this trip. I think I have had each pair of boots on my feet 3 times today. Regardless, I forced my way through the early evening rain until finally reaching Rabbit Blanket Provincial Campground. I’m still in Lake Superior Provincial Park, but I’m less than 15 km from the exit. We were fortunate that the young woman working at the office of the campground is a strong supporter of what I am doing. She took it upon herself to allow us to stay the night at no cost. It could be against Park policies, but she was kind enough to help us out anyway.
With everything I faced today, I’m very happy to say that this was my second most successful day of the Skate For Hope. I ended up covering nearly 120 km. After the beating I suffered yesterday, today was much deserved. Score: Rich 1 – Northern Ontario 1.