Archive for October, 2017


Bow hunting?

   Posted by: admin    in Training

Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games has helped make archery popular again. (Photo courtesy Lionsgate.)

“How are you going to get away with carrying a bow?”

I look at him deadpan, trying to figure out where the joke is in his question. I blink, waiting for the punchline. Nothing.

“What do you mean, a bow?”

“For hunting,” he explains. The remnants of our lunch are collected neatly on a tray, and he points to it with a smirk. “You’re not going to be stopping at Subway when you’re over there, are you?”

Well, no. This is a more common question than I would have expected – with a focus on period-style tents and heavy steel armour, most people are only now realizing that we won’t have insulated coolers or a car to jet out to the nearest pizza shop during our trip.

Historically, my friend would have been right – we would have supplemented the less-than-appetizing rations in our packs with game like rabbits or squirrels. If we were especially lucky, we may have shot a deer, though that would have taken us the better part of a day to properly treat.

Brave, opening this weekend from Pixar, is said to be very realistic about shooting, but does it teach bow care too? Probably not.

Beyond the mess (and the time it takes to clean it up and turn a dead animal into dinner), taking care of a bow is a great deal of work, especially an accurate one. Oiling the wood, and keeping the bowstring as dry as possible; re-making arrows (with new fletchings if necessary); ensuring that the bow is safely stored when walking to make sure that undue strain was not put on the stave… suffice it to say, all things that would be unnecessarily difficult during our walk through rainy Scotland.

Thankfully we have alternatives. On our training walks we have been bringing bakery bread, hard cheese (specifically gouda, which is both delicious and doesn’t need to be refrigerated), and either beef jerky – good protein, long-lasting – or prosciutto, a dry-cured, thinly-sliced ham that lasts for days outside of a refrigerator.  We will be doing something similar in Scotland, possibly substituting some hard sausage for the prosciutto, and adding in apples, nuts, and berries to our diet to keep us going over six hours of walking every day.

Do you have any favourite foods that will keep over a five- or six-day stretch between cities? Leave them in our comment section below and let us know!


Training Walk: March 31st

   Posted by: admin    in Training

In two weeks’ time, we will be doing a Toronto training walk – and we are inviting you!

Here is your opportunity to see just what a training walk is like for the Wayfarers. Our route will be 28 kilometres (17 miles) long and will circle back on itself, so if you intend to stick with us the whole way you can park or subway to and from the same place.

We will be starting at High Park Subway Station, located at High Park Avenue and Bloor Street West, at 9:00am and will be leaving by 9:15am at the latest. We’ll walk south through the park and across the city on Queen Street, walking north at Coxwell and then back along Danforth. With one short fifteen-minute break after our second hour of walking, we will be stopping for lunch at the Court Jester Pub at 609 Danforth Avenue – just west of Pape Avenue – at around 1pm, aiming to leave again at 2:30pm for the last stretch of about ten kilometres.

Throughout our trip we will be posting to our Twitter account (@QuestfortheCure) to update with pictures and locations for anyone who would like to meet us partway.

What should you bring, you ask? If you intend to be with us the whole way, bring comfortable clothing and good shoes – and make sure you’re wearing appropriate socks, too! Your feet aren’t the only part of you that will be sore by the end of the day, but they’ll be the worst off unless you’re very careful.

Bring a water bottle and some snacks – things like trail mix or even just peanuts are great. We’ll be stopping here and there on the way but we don’t want to make too many trips to convenience stores, since every trip will hold up the whole group.

Plan for the weather – if it looks like rain, bring a good coat and maybe a hat. If it looks like sun, a hat is still a good idea! Sunscreen is a good idea too, even though it’s still March.

Finally, bring money for lunch – you’re going to want to eat it, I promise! – and plenty of smiles and laughs. The best part of these walks is companionship, and we’re going to be spreading the word about the Wayfarers while we walk!

Will we see you out this month? Let us know in the comments section below!


Trial Run

   Posted by: admin    in Training

Last night at about six thirty, I had an epiphany.

It was long-since dark, and I was walking along a stretch of Lawrence Avenue, a street that runs from one side of Toronto to another with a few minor interruptions. The snow that had blustered in that morning had turned to rain in the afternoon, coming down in a steady, light fall that was almost mist at times.

I had decided to walk long before I knew about the weather, but with my sweater’s hood up and my long, ankle-length coat done up fast against the rain, I was comfortable enough. My hands stayed in my pockets as I watched the traffic splash through the street, idly thinking about the trip I was, ostensibly, training for even then.

It wasn’t until about halfway through my four-kilometre walk that I looked at my phone, curious. My Weather Network app opened quickly and confirmed what I had thought: that very weather was the worst I was told to expect in Scotland. One degree Celsius. Rain.

And it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t great, of course; my socks were damp despite my weatherproofed boots, and it was chilly. But I wore layers – fewer layers than we’ll have available to us in Scotland, no less – and wasn’t uncomfortable at all. My hood was keeping my head from getting wet, something I know makes me uncomfortable after a while. A pair of gloves was all I really wanted – and I added that to my phone’s simple list of things to bring with us to Scotland. Walking for four kilometres in that weather was no worse than walking it in any other non-perfect weather, and a fair bit better than walking it in the too-hot, sun-burning weather that I trained in all summer.

We’re coming for you, land of William Wallace and dreary skies. And we’ll be ready.


A Perspective on Training

   Posted by: admin    in Training

How far do you walk on any given day?

According to a study published in the “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” journal in 2004, the average American takes between 5200 (women in the study) and 7200 (men in the study) steps in any given day – adding in average stride (2.2 feet for women; 2.5 feet for men), if you are an average woman you are walking a little over two miles a day; as a man you’ll walk, on average, a little under three and a half.

Say you take a walk during your entire hour-long lunch break – if you’re walking at a normal pace, you’ll add maybe three and a half miles to your total – you’re at six or seven miles, now. Not too bad!

This Saturday, the Wayfarers will be walking almost three times that. Going to a total of 17 miles, we will be doing an “average day’s walk” for our trip. We will take about five and a half hours of hard walking to do this, with breaks interspersed to make sure we don’t overextend ourselves and end up with an injury.

At the end of March, though, we will be holding a public training event – that’s right, we’ll be walking in the great outdoors on Saturday, March 31st and inviting anyone who wants to join us to come along. About a week before the date we’ll be posting our starting location, and during the walk we will be “checking in” on FourSquare and tweeting our location to the world-at-large to try to raise awareness!

Mark your calendars and learn your stretches – we would love to see you out!


A New Way to Train: Yoga

   Posted by: admin    in Training

Last week, I did something that a year ago, I would never have considered doing: I joined a yoga club. Two of my coworkers had been discussing doing yoga in the lunch room for a few months, and found a very good deal at Yoga Tree, for unlimited yoga for your first month for 40$.

I honestly didn’t know what I had really signed up for. I had heard that yoga was a good tool to relax the mind, and figured I would get some stretching done as well, which couldn’t possibly be a bad thing leading into the Quest for the Cure.

We signed up on Tuesday at the location closest to our office and saw that the 6pm Wednesday class (the most convenient one for us to do right after work) was a Reduced Heat level 2 class. We were informed that beginners could do level 2 classes, though we were likely to get tired at some points, but we could lay down on our yoga matt and rest while the class continued.

I rested often.

The reduced heat class was advertised at 28 degrees Celsius, but the thermostat in the room indicated 33 degrees Celsius, which is nearly the number that hot yoga was advertised at. Our teacher let us know that the biggest hurdle for beginners was that in level 2 classes certain pose names were announced, and it was expected the student would do the pose without instruction. Needless to say, I looked around a lot when we were told to do downward dogs and other – at the time – unknown yoga poses.

The class was 90 minutes long, and I believe only included one 15 second break before we reached the wind down time at the end of the class. Sweat dripped from my forehead as I strained to stay in difficult positions. I took many more personal breaks, but always tried to do every pose for as long as my strength allowed me.

I learned quickly that advanced yoga was not easy!

The next day, we went to a restorative yoga class. This class was much more relaxing, and likely the only thing my sore body would have been able to handle. The teacher had a soothing voice and told great stories, and I learned to control my breathing. Simply focusing on breathing can greatly reduce anxiety, something that will come in handy on a 500 mile journey. There was some stretching in this class as well, all of which I was able to complete.

On Saturday, we took part in a beginner yoga class. I learned how to perform a half sun salute (I may have the name of the move wrong), the child’s pose, though not nearly all the terms I had heard during my reduced heat class. This class was very informative, though I would have liked to have learned more positions at the expense of some stretching. It likely should have been my first class.

Work sent me out of town this week, so my next class will be a level 1 hatha class on Saturday. I hope to attend at least 10 classes before my unlimited pass runs out. Mixing in learning snowboarding on every Saturday this month, I believe that I will feel sore more days than not.

Yoga is not easy, but it sure is fun and relaxing at the same time.


Training on Treadmills

   Posted by: admin    in Training

On January 14th, four of the Wayfarers got together at LA Fitness for a training walk. Dan has a membership at the gym, and they were kind enough to allow the rest of us to go inside on a trial membership.

The goal was for everyone to walk about 27km: an average day on the Quest for the Cure.

The treadmills had a maximum time of 60 minutes per use, so the idea of a small break every hour worked quite well with the equipment we had to use. It was my first time walking an extended period on a treadmill, and turned out to be quite enlightening.

I am a man of numbers, so I used my phone to track the distance I walked every time I got on the treadmill. Our plan was to walk about 5 km/h, in order to attain our goal in 5 hours and 24 minutes of walking.

After a couple kilometres, I could really feel the lactic acid building up in my legs. I could walk 5 km/h, but doing so at such an exact pace was something I had probably never done before. I did my best to ignore the feeling, and before I knew, it was easy to walk again. After the first hour, I was right on pace with 5.02km walked.

I stepped off the treadmill for our 5 minute break, and experienced a very odd dizzying feeling. Walking for an hour without the world moving around you and then stopping led me to feeling like things were moving that were not. I began to walk, and then it felt like the world was moving around me while I wasn’t – though I knew that I was clearly walking. Within the break, the feeling passed, and each time I got off the treadmill as the day passed, the feeling was less and less pronounced.

The second hour, I kept the same pace up. I tried to play a game on my phone while walking, but after a few minutes realized it was more trouble than it was worth. I walked 5.03km. We took a bit of a longer break at this point, and agreed that after the next hour, we would stop for lunch.

About 40 minutes into the third hour, I was growing bored with walking and checked the settings of the treadmill. I found a rolling hills option that changed the elevation of the treadmill as I walked. I turned it on to level 1 just to give it a try and even increased the speed a tiny bit. I walked 5.16km.

Lunch consisted of a Subway Club at the sandwich shop and a break of at least one hour. We returned to the gym with only 12km to go out of our original 27km.

While at lunch I decided that I would continue with the rolling hills, and turned those on for the entirety of the fourth hour, and yet again, slightly increased my speed. I walked 5.34km.

My man for numbers came out in me during that last hour, and I decided that while turning rolling hills on made for a better workout, they wouldn’t increase my total distance walked, which I was tracking. With just one hour and 24 minutes to go, I decided to up my speed instead. During the 5th hour, I walked exactly 6.00km.

I still felt great so with 24 minutes to go, I wanted to push my limits. I set the treadmill for 6.h and periodically brought it up to as high as h (as fast as I could walk without being forced to jog) and managed to walk another 2.52km.

The total I walked on treadmills that day amounted to 29.07km.

While I was able to do these distances in these times on a treadmill, I do not believe that the Wayfarers will be able to walk at nearly these speeds in the real world. I was surprised that I was never more tired than at the 2-3km mark on my walk and was proud of myself to simply push through that phase. I suffered for my pushing the next day, as my calves were extremely sore. I figured this was a good sign, as my pushing lead to gaining some strength in my legs. I’ll need to gain plenty more in order to be able to walk this distance every day for a month.

As a reminder to those who read this blog, there are still tickets available for Robbie Burns night this coming Monday. Even if you have prior engagement or are coming that day, please pass on the message and let your friends and family know of the event. We are going to have some great items up for auction, and you’ll go home with a full belly and some great parting gifts, while having supported a great cause.

The Wayfarers are looking forward to seeing everyone on Monday!


Lions and Tigers and Bears!

   Posted by: admin    in Research

Oh, my!

What do these three animals have in common? Well, among other things, all are much larger than any wild animals that we’re likely to encounter in Scotland, thankfully. We’ll have a blog post later about the larger and perhaps more interesting animals, but for now I’d like to go smaller:

Much smaller.


This is a highland midge, a small mosquito-like insect that apparently will swarm around us as we walk, regaling us with insightful comments and beautiful ballads of our progress (unfortunately, these will be in Midge, which none of us speak).

Oh, and drinking our blood.

Much like North America’s mosquitoes, midges are annoying pests that need a meal of blood to properly incubate their eggs, and so the females will bite mammals that travel near their nests. Anywhere forested (such as a large portion of our route) is fair game — but no worries! With modern conveniences such as DEET and mosquito netting, we’ll be perfectly…

…wait, did I say “modern conveniences”? Shoot.

Okay, next thought — when I was a kid, to keep the mosquitoes away we always had citronella/lemongrass candles; mosquitoes don’t like the smell of the oil, so they stay away. And the lemongrass article on Wikipedia says that it’s from the Old World — which includes Europe! We’re golden!

Lemongrass, growing in its native habitat: Malaysia. Sigh.

… Or not, apparently. It’s native to southeast Asia, specifically, among other places, which unfortunately do not include Europe. Double-shoot. (I didn’t even look at Eucalyptus.)

So — what was next? Adam’s suggestion was to, and I quote, “man up”, and while that may be the end result I’m hoping to find a better alternative that results in fewer itchy spots (and I’ll just let Adam test his theory)!

We’ll hopefully be testing these theories next summer, on our own mosquitoes (which are similar enough that most commercial products are suggested for both) – the most likely candidates are cinnamon oil, castor oil, made from the castor bean (which is apparently the most poisonous plant on Earth — only four seeds is enough to kill people!), and peppermint oil.

What would you rather smell like? Or would you, in our place, go with Adam’s suggestion and just grin and bear it?


Long Nights by the Fire

   Posted by: admin    in Training

This weekend, I went camping for the first time in years, although we ended up being able to fit everyone in the nearby (heated) cottage. We were only a few hours out of Toronto, near Durham, but we still could barely tell there was anyone else for miles – and the highlight of the night (after dinner, at least) was the campfire. I ended up volunteering to watch it alone for a while, while the others went inside for dessert, and I realized that I was kind of getting a glimpse into how next year will be:

It was cold. The half of me that wasn’t facing the fire, despite being wrapped in warm clothing, was freezing (we woke up with a layer of frost on the grass).
I was exhausted, despite not doing much that day, because I wasn’t bathed in artificial light and attached to the internet.
It was extremely dark – if I faced away from the cottage I could see nothing but the fire.
I was completely alone outside – and I had nothing to really think about. Next year, we’re going to be doing rotating watches, so more often than not I’ll be spending two hours a night doing exactly that – but I had a hard time with the ten minutes I spent on Saturday night. This should be interesting.

What would you think about, sitting alone staring at the fire for two hours in the middle if the night? How would you resist falling asleep?


Base Camping

   Posted by: admin    in Research

When you think camping, what comes to mind?

For many people it’s bonfires with roasting marshmallows, big nylon tents, swimming in a lake and maybe some hiking.  Some people make it relaxing with a good book; some people portage with a canoe through lake- and river-filled regions and come back home pleasantly exhausted.  Some bring air mattresses and some think it’s not camping if you don’t wake up with the impressions of branches on your back.

I am, personally, not much of a camper – I prefer beds to the ground, showers in the morning, and a hot breakfasts and cold drinks.  I thoroughly enjoy my creature comforts.  But as soon as we decided to do the Quest as, well, a quest, I knew that my usual requirements for a good camp weekend – regular runs to the corner store, for instance – would be impossible.

And so I started to think about what we would be using to camp.  Certainly not the easy-to-build, easy-to-carry tents that we can buy at any major outdoor store; no air mattresses, no propane stoves, no coolers full of ice.  We would have to balance old-school materials like canvas or leather with considerations for weight, since we will be carrying everything everywhere distributed over the six of us.


Walking Scotland Legally Part 2

   Posted by: admin    in Research

So after trying to make time between my classes, my work, and admittedly my overall laziness I can finally say I have some results. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code answered a lot of my questions. Walking the trip as we’d hoped should be doable. The access code is long and lists a few restrictions for safety and non forest fire starting reasons, but much to my surprise it looks like we’ll even be able to build campfires in most of the out of the way places.

Hunting is an entirely different matter. Bow hunting and crossbow hunting is illegal in the United Kingdom. If I were being honest, I would say I found this to be a bit of a relief. It was something we had considered, but remains something that most of us aren’t very inclined to do.

Fishing surprisingly doesn’t seem to actually require a license. However some of us are skeptical about whether we’ll be staying anywhere long enough to be able to do it. Also, when factoring conservation laws and obtaining permits it starts getting a little confusing in terms of when and where we can fish for what. For now this is being put aside since it seems unlikely that we’ll even want to have to carry the equipment around. If we change our minds, we’ll either have to make a detailed fishing map or have our fishing spots planned out before hand.

For now this mostly just leaves questions about equipment. I’m very confident that we’ll be able to stay true to our theme (even if it means toiletries will be accompanied with leaves…) however our equipment lists remain to fully sorted out. Once we have that figured out, I’ll be able to determine what we can get across the boarder and what we can get onto a plane.

Another bit of news: this weekend is a two day training walk for us. We’re headed a bit north to get our first taste of what it’s like to walk all day, camp, and than get up in the morning and do it again. I’m looking forward to it, even if it is like to be cold.