I've always wanted to sleep in a train. Fitting since i was following an old rail bed.
I left the next morning as soon as the first rays came in the window. It was clear once again and i was feeling particulairly refreshed. About half a kilometre down the track I found a sign that said spring water. I followed a little path less than twenty metres and came upon a PVC pipe protruding from the ground. There was a litre of water dispensing from the pipe at the rate of 1/Lt per 30 seconds. it was mighty tastey. rejuvenating in an undescribable way. kinda made one feel all tingly. i filled all my bottles and beat it back to the track.
I was passed by only 2 people that day. They were riding in a truck with an ATV in the back. They were on their way back home after a long weekend at the cabin. They stopped to give me treats. 2 bags of chips, a bag of grapes, and another can of soda. I was fast accumulating a large collection of trash. But it was much appreciated, as i had underestimated my supplies. It was a nice day I made the summit of the entire rail line before noon. I stopped up there at a quarry and made a little monument out of granite.
When i had finished i realized that it really didn't stand out that much on the landscape. Which is mostly open with a few shrubs in the dips, sedge everywhere else, and lots of giant glacial erratics. Then there are the topsail mountains. Which are kinda hard to describe. Apparently they are old volcano plumes. Formed when glaciers ripped over the surface of the island. The outer shell of the volcano was ripped away while the harder volcaninic rock is the centre left exposed. The next old whistle stop from the summit is Gaff topsail. Another area that has turned into a cabin village. I stopped to lunch on some PB sandwiches there. onward and downward the trail went.
The black spruce grew taller an taller as I descended. Just past pond crossing is when you can call it a forest again. Its also there where you enter the Kitty Brook valley. It reminded me of J.R.R Tolkien's description of entering Rivendale. Only the birds were singing though. no elves, at least non that i heard. I walked on into the night and was determined to make it to Howley that night, but thats when the weather changed. Just as the sun was about to do something pretty. So i hastily set up my tarp on the side of the road. I slept rather poorly on the gravel, although it did loosen some of the knots in my back.
I woke in the morning to find all my gear bone dry, and the sun shining in the sky. It was a brisk walk down to howely. 15 kilometres according to some Logging kms posted at the side of the road. I got to howley before noon. I stopped at the local gas bar and had an ice cream. Then I had another. The owner came over to talk to me, and we chatted about the trail and what he did for a living. He told me that he also owns the Motel. They have a lounge there and thats where a hot meal could be found. I had a hamburger. It was loose meat, my first experience with such a wich. i've had sloppy joe's before, but that usually entails a gloopy sauce. There was no sauce, just crublely hamburger meat. an odd burger, this loosey goosey. definately something to make note of.
I met some guys on quads from Cape Breton at the gas station. They were up to the same mission as I. Crossing the rock. Ian told me that i could crash at his place if i needed. Once across myself of course. he seemed a good natured. the hippieness definately courses through his veins.
After mailing a few postcards i followed the quaders back to the trail. I wanted to make Deer lake before dark, and it was still 24 kms or something and it was high noon (1pm). The trail followed the coast of Grand lake. which has some of the nicest beaches i've seen on my trip. Reddish sand and a bunch of comercial logging driftwood.
I stopped for a break on the beach late afternoon. nice and windy, nice and sunny. a couple kids on their way home from school passed me by. I got to the Main Dam somewhere around 6. a pretty impressive bit of concrete. there were even some supreme poachable campsites. I pressed on for deer lake. At around seven thirty, as dusk was setting in, i passed a father and son, and his two sons. They were out picking up a couple of loads of fire wood. I asked them how far it was to Deer lake. They said it was a "few miles." so i crashed on. A km down the road, i stopped for a carb boost. I talked to a man on bicycle who was passing on the road. he told me he just saw a mink, i told him i had just seen a falcon. Then i heard the drone of ATVs behind me. The bicycle man road on and the Father, son, and sons pulled up. The son asked me if I wanted a lift. I said "sure" (opportunity knocking). I rode behind the son for a while then he switched it up, as my weight was bottoming out his trailer hitch. He put me on with his son. I distinctly remember reading a sticker somewhere that no one under the age of 16 may operate an ATV. As we rode off i asked his age. "Oh i'm ten." he replied. wow i thought. this is the youngest person ever, to chauffer me around. He was a great operator. sure his feet barely reached the shifter, and when he stood on the pegs he was still shorter than me. The boy had been taught well. he avoided hazards, kept the speed down, and was always alert.
They dropped me off on the last bit of the main drag in town. It was full on dark by then. I checked out the rates at the hotel. There was no way i was spending that much on a shower and a bed. Not for another week at least. I opted for the bridge out by the trans canada. On my way out to the highway i stopped off to get a coffee. I'm not sure why. I sat and drank it outside on the curb. It didn't take long before my smoking caught the attention of other smokers and all of a sudden there was a crew on the curb. They thought i was a hitch hiker at first. but then i mentioned to them i was walking the trail bed. They told me I was nutz. A frequent reaction it seems. They accepted me into their group pretty quickly. We proceeded to go on adventures out around Deer lake. Giving me a quick synopsis of the town geography. I asked them about good crash spots and they pointed out a few. We went into the local windowless tavern. It being Karaoke night and all. I didn't drink to much there. Yet somehow I managed to summon up enough courage to sing Fame by David Bowie. I hung out there for most of the night. Talking to various people and catching the vibe of the town. A couple of guys tried to talk me down but, in the end they said that they had to respect anybody who'd walk the track by themself. The one guy ended our conversation about how he hates outsiders. he told me to not take offence. I can't say that i blame him. Its risky business letting in people into your world. you don't know if they be your best bud or turn you into a slave.
After I left the bar i went down to the park to crash in the band shell. I had passed it earlier and thought it would be a wicked poach camp. Once I set up my bed I sat down and took it all in. The architecture of the band stand wasn't outstanding but it was interesting. A large yawing arch opened to the main bit of grassy grounds and to stage right and left there were two lesser arches with stairs. I slept in the props area. it was as comfortable as concrete can afford.
I woke up in the morning at around 8. Had a coffee and wandered over to the library.
Where i pecked out the first portion of this on their brand new C.A.P. computers.
I overused my half hour and they had to send me to the other C.A.P. computers. Which happen to be on the otherside of town.
those computers were kinda crappy from a cutting edge stand point, but it was easier to breath in that space.
I always prefer "good used" to polished and shiney No librarians playing eye ping pong with you and the clock.