25 Hours. 25 Miles. Free Food Only. Never Let Go.
We suggest you read our praxes in the order above, although for all we know it may be more fun completely in reverse. In any case, please enjoy the musical backdrop for each, chosen from among those songs we sang during the 25 hour period as appropriate to the task.
This was the most challenging and painful task I've done, and the one I was most pleased about afterwards. I really like SF0 tasks that get me to do something I didn't think I could do. Walking 25 miles, for a couple of Los Angelinos, even reasonably athletic Los Angelinos, definitely falls into that category. Walking 25 miles linked together and relying on the generosity of others for sustenance felt epic.
We happen to be on a remote Canadian island
off Vancouver. This is so much more suited to Walking than our native Los Angeles. We chose the most straightforward route which happened to be almost exactly 25 miles - from Long Harbor (where we were staying) to the town of Ganges, then bisecting the island (over hill and dale) to the town of Fulford, then reversing the entire route. The walk was almost entirely along main roads, which ensured we would (probably) not get lost, and handily brought us to the towns, which were necessary sources of free food. The only undesirable quality to our proposed hike was that we gained and lost a lot of altitude twice.
8:00 pm: We begin Free Food and Never Let Go.
8:00 am: Attempted to wake up Waldo.
8:45 am: We left the house where we are staying, armed with two Ziploc bags, a map, a pen, a flashlight, blue tape, sunscreen a large bottle of water, spare contacts, phone, $40 Canadian, and for reasons still obscure to me, an ancient copy of the Onion.
9:05 am: We paused to pick blackberries to aid in Free Food efforts.
10:30 am: With a bulging bag of gently leaking blackberries, we reached Ganges, and the Walrus was delighted to find she was well known in this town:
10:45 am: A diversion to swap our free blackberries for sandwiches in the heart of Ganges: the 'illag Center (sounds Welsh, dunnit?
11:00 am: Buoyed by our sandwiches, we left Ganges.
This is the hottest, steepest part of the day, climbing doggedly up the path towards Fulford. Waldo had his scarf and hat on at one point and a biker passing us turned and shouted, “Hey! Waldo!” which pleased everyone concerned. We also discovered how to take pictures of each other without breaking contact. It’s to do with feet.
12:00 pm: We got through the heavy climbing part and enter Phase 2: wandering around the mountainous highlands. My favorite thing to find here was a sign saying “Organic Golf Course” and pointing into a bog.
1:00 pm: We ran out of water but apparently locate Baggins.
1:30: We have descended from the highlands and enter Phase 3: The Bulge. (See map). It was still Lawrence-of-Arabia hot and we were very thirsty. We visited a winery for free samples and to fill our water bottle.
2:05: We were still on the bloody Bulge. Apparently it is larger than it looked on the map. We passed a pair of hikers and asked them where they’ve walked from. Five kilometers from Fulford, they explained, with evident pride. We one-upped them a little by explaining we’d walked from Ganges. They obviously thought we’re insane, but told us it’s about another twenty minutes to Fulford. As they walked away, I distinctly heard the man say to the woman, “Yikes!”
3:00 pm: After another long hike we reached the diminutive town of Fulford: a coffee shop, an eccentric thrift store, and a ferry terminal. The sign was at first terribly misleading!
We headed to the coffee shop, told our story, and were again given free food by the island's generous inhabitants. We did have to persuade the coffee shop guy of our honesty. He insisted that we could not have walked from Ganges and must have hitchhiked. And we filled our water bottle again. A lot of signs in Fulford seem to have been vandalized in some way.
3:30 pm: We set out from Fulford back to Ganges. The trip was half done and it had taken us six hours and forty-five minutes, though a decent part of that was spent foraging. Now there was really nothing to do but walk. My feet were really starting to complain quite stridently, but at least it was cooler.
6:00 pm: By this time the sun was starting to get quite low and we had entered the mountainous Phase 2, finally having pushed our way through the Bulge. We stopped on a handy log and ate our remaining food.
The problem, for me at least, was the feet. They seemed to have acquired much more delegates than usual in the crowded darkened chamber of my mind, and with a large contingent of legs, got up and began attempting a filibuster to prevent the motion of moving forward. A few renegade back delegates joined them, and the group attempted to, well, put their feet down to prevent me continuing the walk. They were overruled, but only just.
7:00 pm: After a hellish hour on aching feet we reached Ganges.
It was getting quite dark and large clouds were gathering overhead. We rested for a few minutes in the town park, and visited another storeowner we knew to exchange tales of what we were doing for a full waterbottle and free food.
We saw that a psychiatrist has a singularly charming sign
and also a message of hope on a local circuit breaker panel.
8:00 pm: The last two hours of our journey are not worth recounting. They were painful. They were unpleasant. They were, above all else, damp. One thing cheering occurred. While we were walking down Long Harbour Road, a smallish car made a turn off the road in front of us, and a woman of about seventy got out.
“I saw you on the way to Fulford!” she said, by way of introduction. “And then coming back! My friend and I recognized you by your heights, but we didn’t think it could be you because you couldn’t have walked that far. What were you doing?”
(Recognizing us by our heights made sense. Waldo is 6’3’’. I am 5’2’’.) We explained our journey. She listened, nodded, and explained she was very impressed. She also gave us the very welcome news that we were close to the next turning.
After that the light really gave out. We had brought a flashlight but never exactly had to use it. To keep our spirits up and try to quiet our yelling feet, Waldo and I tried singing: “Piazza”, “Handlebars”, and “500 Miles.” It says much for how tired we were that this was actually effective. Waldo is the very worst singer I know. I am only marginally better.
9:00 pm: Home after a 12-hour marathon.
We had hoped to be home by eight in order to have completed all three tasks in twenty-four hours, but it didn’t happen. So we extended Free Food and Never Let Go by an extra hour for 25-hour tasking.
Showers! Not standing up, as much as possible!
A Question of Distance
It was brought to our attention that the google maps presentation of our route only works out to 24.9 miles, and so we are force to account for the "missing" tenth of a mile.
The first thought we had was that on foot we had to cross the road a lot to avoid blind corners, as we were only on a partitioned walkway for 15 feet on the entire trip:
With a few calculations
and rough measurements
, we saw we only needed to find 20 places on the trip where we were forced to cross the road. Then again, not every crossing of the road was quite so direct as this
. If on average we crossed the road at a 45 degree angle
we only added 41.4% of the distance across the road to our journey. Now we would need at least 48 road crossings identified to boost our distance travelled by that elusive tenth of a mile. There was no way we crossed the road every half-mile, so it was back to the drawing boards, or face eternal flagnation.
A friend of ours who bikes recreationally then pointed out a great flaw in our documentation: elevation! Google-maps is plotting distances as though the world were flat, when in fact we knew (quite bitterly) that there were some significant hills we had conquered that day. As it turns out, the highest elevation we made it to was just over 450ft. above sea level, and just like our problem with crossing roads, it wasn't as if we walked on flat ground for 24.9 miles then went 0.1 miles straight up. We were not just going to let another triangle get in the way of our victory (especially not a triangle defending hills
), so we took out the heavy computer science.
With some careful plotting, we were able to see just how much conquering was done of said hills, and how much distance we actually travelled:
Bam. Mileage verified. Suck it Hills.