Sunday, August 28, 2011

Trekking to the Falls

Tuesday the 23rd was the last big shake down of our gear and ourselves while we're in Ontario.  We left Niagara-on-the-Lake at about 8am and headed to Niagara Falls.  There's a walking/bike path that runs all the way along the Niagara River from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.  It's pretty flat, except for the climb up over the Niagara Escarpment at Queenston Heights, which was not difficult at all. 
Our planning told us that it was about 13 miles. It was actually a little over 15 miles. Here's a map of our route:

We got a feel for how much you get to see on foot when we saw 8 turkey vultures all sitting in the same tree just feet off the path looking over the river.  We had never seen turkey vultures up so close and as we stopped to check them out, cars and bikes sped by not even aware they were there.

Our feet were the main casualties of this walk.  I had a small blister but Al's feet were pretty beat.  It didn't help that he was wearing an older pair of running shoes and the walk was on asphalt.  My hip felt great though, and mainly we were both just muscle sore.  Our miscalculation with the distance also meant we didn't have quite enough water or food.  A bottle of water and an ice cream bar when we hit the Falls helped get us through the last mile.

Once we get home, we will be making our arrangements for accommodations, outfitting ourselves with the gear we need, and continuing to walk.

I'm going to come back and add some pictures when we get home.

Monday, August 22, 2011


We're planning to fly to London around Feb. 20 and spend a few days getting organized and sending bundles of maps ahead to points along the walk.  We'll head to Penzance on Feb. 24. 
We begin our walk on February 25th by getting a ride to Land's End and walking back to Penzance.
From there, our general itinerary looks like this:

The West Country (Land's End to Bath)- Feb. 25-March 16

The Cotswolds and Severn (Bath-Shrewsbury)- March 16-27

The Midlands and Yorkshire (Shrewsbury-Hadrian's Wall)- March 16-April 18

Southern Scotland (Hadrian's Wall- Edinburgh)- April 18-29

Scottish Highlands (Edinburgh-Inverness)- April 29-May 17

Way-the-heck-up-north Scotland (Inverness-John O'Groats)- May 17-28

I'm putting this up so that any of our family or friends who wants to join us along our route and walk a spell can start planning.  I'm serious, if you want to join us we would love the company. 

Training begins

We have overcome the emotional challenge of leaving Ian at Cornell.  It was harder than we thought it would be, especially since he has no people there.  At least Erin has my mom right down the subway line in Toronto.

Anyhow, after we left New York state yesterday, we headed up for a little getaway and training in Ontario.  We were held up by a line of thunderstorms, then had to fly around a bit avoiding another line, but finally made it to the Niagara Regional airport. We put on our packs, covering them with pack covers due to the threatening sky, and headed off for the Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 10 miles away.  The walk wasn't terribly challenging, as the route is dead flat, but it was hot and sunny trekking along the lines and concessions between the fields of grapes. (it is wine country here) By the time we reached the trail along the Niagara River, the clouds were gathering and we started to hear thunder.  The last half hour into town was a torrential downpour.  We were soaked in seconds, but it felt great after sweating it out through the fields.  People huddled under trees and awnings seemed a bit confused by us happily strolling along in the monsoon. I'm not sure what the staff at the hotel thought of us dripping all over their beautiful parquet floors.

The pack covers performed perfectly and will definitely be coming with us to England.  My pack might be a bit small.  I'll try Erin's slightly larger one when we get home. After feeling tired and having a bit of hip soreness right after the walk, I'm happy today to be feeling great and not sore at all. 

After our day of rest wandering around town, we head out tomorrow for another training walk to Niagara Falls, 13 miles away with the added challenge of climbing the Niagara escarpment at Queenston Heights!

Monday, August 15, 2011

It's official

Well, we have made our first booking for our trip.  Still no plane tickets, but we have booked an inn for Easter weekend.  We figured that would be a critical reservation to make well in advance.  After Al plotted out our route and we planned each leg, we were able to figure out where we'd be at Easter.  A few emails later, and we have Amos Ingham's room booked here for 3 nights over Easter.  I'm going to create a google doc of our itinerary (if I can figure out how) so you can see our route plan.
Now we've got to get started finding places to stay at all our other stops!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Getting Started

Well, I'm setting up a blog.  Something I thought I would never do!
The thing is, Al and I are planning a big adventure next year, and we want to be able to record it and relate it back to family and friends back home.  I figured that I'd better get familiar with this blogging thing before we are on the trail. 

Here's the plan.  Al and I are going to fly to England in spring 2012, probably around mid February.  We'll take a week or so in London to get our shit together and get over the jetlag, then head down to the south west corner of the country.  Land's End in Cornwall.  From there we will walk to the north east tip of Scotland.  John O'Groats.  We are planning on taking about 100 days to walk the 1100 miles.   We'll carry our stuff and stay in inns and B&Bs.  

We have all the Ordnance Survey maps (they are totally amazing) and Al has mapped the route out.  We'll try to have as much planned out as possible as far as where we'll stay and arrange accommodations as we go.  We'll have to send our maps ahead, as the maps alone weigh over 15 pound! We'll be sending them back to Corvallis as we use them.

As this is really just a test post, I'll leave it at that.  I'll try to update our preparations as we get closer.

Ooh, I got a picture to appear!  This is us in 2006 at the end of the Cotswold Way, when the seed was planted for this next adventure.