Walking from Alabama to the Ocean
ECT Day 201&202
IAT Day 32&33
Day 201: 31 miles
This morning we slept in a bit at the bunk room. Then we finally got up to set out for the day. We hadn’t really discussed how far we wanted to go today. I guess we’ll just see what we can pull off after starting around 7:30am.
Today we’re going to be road walking for most of the day. There is actual trail through this area that we could be walking. But there is also a hurricane coming! And we are on the coast here in Quebec. So if we mostly road walk the next day or so we will likely be able to beat the hurricane.
We walked for a couple of hours before stopping off at a shelter for our first break. The shelter was just off of the road, so it was quite convenient. All of us ate something there and hung out before continuing on. The road followed along the ocean for pretty much the whole day. The next few miles were particularly beautiful. The tide was low so you could see the rocky coast. There were a couple seals hanging out along the rocks too.
Around noon we passed right by a Marche Ami which is a convenience store here. We all got hot coffees or hot chocolates to warm us up. It’s been super cold and windy out today! I’ve been wearing my rain jacket for most of the day to stay warm. Winter is truly coming. It’s gonna be cold here in Canada pretty soon.
Once we had our warm drinks we kept on walking. It definitely warmed me up to hold the cup for a little while. I made a mocha which went incredibly quickly.
We walked for another couple of hours after that. The muscle behind my knee started to feel pretty tight again once we were about 18 miles in. It just felt like a big tight knot. The more I walked the more it would seem to loosen up. But when I stopped for a bit, it became hard to get going again. The soreness was more annoying than anything. It’s not really a particularly sharp or specific pain. More like a bunch of knots in my upper calf/behind my knee. I just hope that it resolves itself soon.
About 18 miles into the day, we walked through another small town. This one had a seafood shack which we decided to stop off at for lunch. I got a grilled ham and cheese and a soda. It was so cold and windy out, but we were able to get a bit of shelter while we ate. The food was so nice and hot which really hit the spot. It feels like winter today! It’s cold and rainy and we’re right by the ocean.
When we left the seafood shack the road moved away from the ocean and were more inland. That was great because the wind died down almost immediately. I no longer needed to wear my rain gear to stay warm! Plus, the road began to climb for a while so that kept me warm too. We did about 1000 ft of elevation gain on the road which was quite hilarious. It was damn steep at times! But the grade was perfect. So we could maintain a solid consistent pace.
From the seafood shack we had another 13 miles to go for the day. There were no places to stop off and camp really, so we decided to push pretty far to the next town. That way we could stay somewhere in town for the night. It’s supposed to rain a lot overnight. Even with all the elevation gain those next miles went my quickly. My body was sore at first but then I got into the swing of things and was feeling better.
We pushed through most of the remaining mileage. Then stopped off for a quick break when we only had about 5 miles left to go. I did a quick stretch routine and pulled some snacks out. Then we did the final miles to Grand-Vallee, QC.
The time flew by and we getting close to the hotel just as we lost daylight. It was around 7:15pm when we arrived at the hotel at the end of a 31 mile day. Considering that we got a later start today we still got solid mileage in! We got checked in at the hotel which was possibly the nicest place I’ve ever stayed on trail. It was right on the water and there were three beds in the room. Sparkle and I got our own girl room and Trucker had a room all to himself.
Before we had arrived at the hotel Trucker called in a food order. That way the food was ready for us when we arrived at the hotel even though the restaurant was going to be closed. We all ate and hung out. I took a nice hot shower which felt amazing. Then I stretched and lounged in bed. Today was tiring. All of us wound up falling asleep super early.
Day 202: 31 miles
This morning we all slept in a bit at the hotel. They provided complimentary breakfast boxes which had yogurt, oj, toast, etc. All of us ate those and laid in bed. Then we started figuring out how far we planned to go today.
Once we decided to do another 30+ mile day we figured we better get moving. Originally, we had planned to wait for the pharmacy to open. But there was no way that we would be able to wait for the pharmacy and make it 30+ miles.
The muscle behind my right knee is still ridiculously tight today. So I decided to compression wrap it to see if that helps. I’m really not sure what’s going on with it, but I have to do what I can to make it feel better. Anything that keeps me walking at this point.
We set out and stopped off about a mile in to do our resupply. All of us just needed enough food to get through today and tonight. I got some muffins, cinnamon roll thing, and a few drinks. Then we packed up our bags and began walking. The compression wrap definitely helped me feel comfortable as I began moving again. It just seemed to hold the sore muscle in place so that it was irritating me.
We had a pretty late start to the day so it will be interesting to see when we arrive at camp tonight. A few hours into the day we passed by a covered picnic area with a bathroom, right alongside the road! We couldn’t resist stopping off there to take our first break. Everyone was able to use a bathroom and fill up their water bottles. Sometimes the hardest part about walking is just that. If the road is busy, you might not be able to pee anywhere. And often times there aren’t a lot of streams flowing nearby the road either.
When we took that first break, we were already about 10 miles into the day. At least the time was flying by. And my leg felt a lot better now that I had compression on it. Hopefully that does the trick for me. After taking a nice long break there we continued along. It was such a beautiful day walking down by the ocean. We have been so lucky lately. The IAT itself follows more of the ridge line above the ocean. But we really wanted to be down here by the water. When do you ever get to experience this on a thru hike? It’s been such a treat.
After walking for another couple of hours we passed by a small market. We just had to stop off inside for a quick snack. There was a picnic table right by the water, so we sat there to eat once we got what we needed. I ate an egg salad sandwich and got a couple of drinks. Then I laid in the grass to do my stretching before continuing along.
When we left the market, we proceeded to walk through the town for a little while. There were lots of old buildings which we cool to see. Every town that we’ve passed through so far has had a large old church. That’s been a staple. At this point in the day, we still had about 15 miles to go. We had to push through and keep moving if we wanted it to fly by.
We walked for another hour or so and then passed by yet another picnic area. This one was right on the beach, and we only had 10 miles to go. So we decided to take a quick final break of the day. Then push through and finish off the evening. All of us sat down on the beach and hung out for a bit. It felt like it was just about to start raining. But I was hopeful that it would hold off.
Those last 10 miles of the day went by pretty quickly. The back of my leg felt so much better with compression on. It was like night and day. My biggest complaint by the end of the day was the way how my feet felt. The bottoms of my feet were just incredibly sore. The road can take its toll on your body. My feet were throbbing with every step those last 5 or so miles of the day. But I kept on going!
Eventually we got off the main road and onto a back road heading towards a lighthouse. The timing couldn’t have been better because it was just starting to get dark. I’d rather not road walk in the dark if I don’t have to. Especially on a main road. Then we followed along dirt roads for a while until we came to the Pointe-a-la-Renommee, a lighthouse. From there it was another mile on the actual IAT until we arrived at the Le Zephir Refuge. It was after 8pm when we finally arrived at the refuge. Which was a bit earlier than I had expected honestly.
When we got to the refuge all of us were pleasantly surprised to see that it was empty! The refuge was right on the ocean and was pretty nice inside. Though there was a whole huge bin of trash in the corner piled up. Probably because of how close the refuge is to the road.
All of us got set up inside and then got dinner going. I did my stretching and ate. I was exhausted and my body was super sore. But I had chores to get done before I could rest. When I took the compression off the back of my knee, I actually finally felt a noticeable difference from yesterday. It feels a lot better. Hopefully that will do the trick after a couple of days. Once I ate dinner, I headed into the bunk room and called it a night.
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