Today, my hiking companion was Justin. I picked him up just after 8 o’clock in the morning. His first question (after Tweeting at me to see how I take my coffee) was along the lines of what the hike was supposed to be like.
I told him that some hikes are long. Some hikes are short. Often it depends on the location, weather, conversation, or a combination of all three. On average, these hikes have been about three hours in duration and span about 10km.
Little did I know that three and half hours later, we’d be making our way alongside the Humber River with a unique story and bragging rights for the longest #KiliHikeTO ever – a whopping 16.18km.
We traversed across Toronto via the 401 to the Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue area to start our hike at Lion’s Park. This route was suggested by Sarah, who unfortunately couldn’t join us. Neither Justin nor I were very familiar with this area of Toronto, but the route proved to be spectacular.
The Humber River flowed to our left for the first half of the route. We came across tons of wildlife including birds, chipmunks, large groups of snails in the freshly cut grass and geese. Tons of geese!
We also encountered several characters, including one gentleman who was running without shoes or a shirt. We also passed an elderly lady who was motoring along with curlers in her hair. I even spotted a guy hiding in the bush reading a book while sitting on a tree stump. Peaceful place to read, I guess?
But nothing would prepare us for what was in store at the foot of the trail. As we passed through Magwood Park, a couple stopped us to inform us that the trail was closed up ahead. Apparently, the police had taped off the area because they had found a dead body.
We continued hiking south until we ran into the police tape that was blocking the trail and the entire park. Based on reports from Twitter, police had discovered the body of Peter Barnaba, the man who tried to save his dog from drowning in the river earlier this week. This was one of the last things we ever would have expected to encounter on a hike in the city.
We had hiked close to 8km at this point, so we turned around and navigated north to return to our point of origin.
Along the route, Justin and I chatted about a wide variety of topics. But most of our conversation centred on social media. He heads up the social media program for Hailo, the awesome Toronto taxi app. If you haven’t used it, I would suggest downloading it now and giving it a try.
One topic that struck a chord with me – and one I would like to explore in a future post – is the rise of a bullying culture in social media. This includes people bullying other people and also the mob mentality that can take place towards companies.
I’m completely in favour of using social media to hold individuals and corporations accountable, and the open nature to which social media has allowed for this to happen. But I’m witnessing more and more cases of people or the “internet mob” taking things too far. I won’t get into specifics, since that isn’t what this blog post is about, but it is something to consider.
We were fortunate to enjoy warm weather for most of the morning. The humidity started to disappear in the final hour of our hike. Unfortunately, as we entered the homestretch of our trek, the sky started to darken.
About 1.5km from the finish, a torrential downpour unleashed itself upon us. We tried to dart into the trees for cover, but the rain was coming down too fast and too furious.
I managed to get my Arc’Teryx rain jacket out of my pack quickly and I threw it on before my upper body got too wet. I scrambled to pull the rain cover over my pack, too. At this point, the rain was driving sideways as a result of a fierce wind. We were soaked.
Within minutes, the rain passed and the sun started to peak out. My shorts were so waterlogged that even my boxers were drenched. But nothing felt worse than my boots. They had taken on a ton of water. So much, in fact, that it now felt like my feet were encapsulated in gel packs. This caused pressure on my feet and made walking extremely difficult.
I quickly learned that all it will take to put an end to my entire hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro is a two minute rain storm. If this had happened on the mountain, there would be no way to get my boots to dry and my trip would be over. After today, I’m even more thankful for training hikes.
Now I have to worry about combating water in addition to the altitude.
It is very clear why Tusker is recommending not only rain pants, but gaiters, too. First thing on Monday morning, I’m going to ensure that I can rent a pair of gaiters for the climb. As it stands, it is going to take a couple of days to dry my boots out, at home!
In an effort to get my body tuned up for the climb and help with some back and leg ailments, I tried acupuncture for the first time. It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. In fact, I didn’t really feel a thing when the needles were inserted into my mid and lower back by Erin. She kept the needles in for about 15-20 minutes while she tried to remove the massive knots from my calves.
I woke up the next morning and didn’t feel any stiffness in my lower back or legs for the first time since I can recall, so I’ve become an overnight believer in acupuncture.
Hills training continued this past Friday night. We had a long list of potential attendees at noon on Friday, but in the end, it was just Heidi and I who beat the humidity and ran in the rain.
We changed up the running structure this week and attempted six sets of five hill sprints (instead of three sets of 10 sprints). We still ran 30 hills again, just with a different cadence.
We also started branding our weekly adventure as #KillTheHillTO, which was first coined by a different Erin on Twitter. Our hope is that it becomes a massive city-wide training movement. We shall see…
In other preparation news, I have dropped approximately 17 lbs. since I started training in late January. The good news is that I have also put on quite a bit of muscle in my legs, so I have likely dropped more fat, which was one of my goals. If I can lose another 10-15 lbs. in the next two months, that would be super and I would be at an ideal weight for hiking.
- READ: Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds (InsideToronto.com)
- READ: In his father’s memory (TownCrier.ca)
My personal fundraising has slowed down over the past couple of weeks and I sit at just over $17,500 raised for the campaign For All Canadians. Ideally, I will be able to make one final push and break through my goal of $20,000 raised. If you haven’t had a chance to donate – or would like to donate again – you can make a contribution on my personal page.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate your support.
The #Climb4Cord features a group of business leaders who will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in August 2013 with the hopes of raising $750,000 for the campaign For All Canadians, which is dedicated to building Canada’s new national public cord blood bank. Click here to donate to my personal page or for more information on the campaign please visit: http://campaignforcanadians.ca/