I’d like to introduce you to my new project!
In fact, I should say our new project!
I’m leaving with Oceanna for a 2300km hike on the Appalachian Trail.
Start : Fort Montgommery, New York State, USA
End : Parc Forillon, Quebec.
Oceanna is a very intelligent and sensitive 16 year old girl. She has a good heart and loves to help others. Sadly, like many disillusioned young people, she has lost herself in a behavioral whirlwind. She accumulates failures on a personal level as well as in her relationships with friends, lovers and parents. She has not been in school for a few years. Oceanna has a difficult inner life and does not seem to find motivation for a future and/or an independent life that will fulfill her in her adult life. She has a few suicide attempts under her belt and several behavioral problems that lead her to depression and delinquent behaviors that are dangerous for her and her loved ones.
After receiving news from Oceanna that overwhelmed me, I decided to leave everything behind and officially organize this therapeutic adventure. I am doing a project that brings together my academic learning, adventure life experience, and personal life experience and use them to create a program to help people in need through adventure. I have been working for several years on both a personal and physical level to finally be able to do exactly what I love in life while helping people in need.
As I am doing this project completely voluntarily, I will be raising funds to pay for the minimum of my mandatory payments.
We will feed the site with our photos, videos, thoughts and experiences throughout this adventure!
Thank you for supporting us both morally and with your comments.
Visit to an island at the end of the world… Fogo.
“I found my treasure island. I found it in my inner world, in my meetings…” – Hugo Pratt
I have a few dis-eases to confide in you…
Can you get lost on an island?
Who is on an island…
After my ride in the Gros Morne park, I realize when I get my bike back that I have almost no brakes left ! The only bike shop in this area, before the big city of St-John’s, is 115 km away.
Luckily, a nice cyclist I met recently on the road offered to take me there with her car and I accepted with great happiness, as I could not see myself getting stuck on the hills without brakes !
Then, the next day, radio silence in my being… !?!
On the road, all the paths are difficult and some are blocked !… So I have to make detours towards the highway and that extends my route of a good 35 kilometres.
The detours imposed over the last few days have forced me to remain in solidarity with myself and have brought me even more to the centre of my solitude as a road rider; even if these moments of silence are greatly appreciated, I feel more at home in the cycling event than on a Bixi ride !
After a few days and more than 300 kilometres, I am still happy to be back in civilization with this arrival in Lewisport and this welcome in a beautiful yellow house filled with sun !
I realise as I make this stop that I have no strength left…
My body and head are tired. My tinnitus has increased and is making an incessant buzzing in my head. The light, the sounds, the smells, the wind have become unbearable.
I was offered accommodation and it was greatly appreciated!
I will be able to rest here, on the sofa in the entrance.
Then a neighbour comes to welcome me, I try with all my being to wake up, it is not easy. I don’t want to show my exhaustion, I still want to get to know these people who are rich in history and full of goodness !
Let’s go for a little evening in the port with these lovely people ! Sailing is the main subject !
I had planned to take a rest day, then to go on my way…
But I linger; a wonderful woman offers me supper, offers me her car to go grocery shopping, and shares her story and her husband’s incredible story with me !
I am so surrounded and absorbed by these people that I don’t realise my energy is waning as it demands so much of my attention.
In between these meetings, the need for silence is becoming more and more apparent…
And finally I will need four days spent inside myself and away from the outside world, resting here on the sofa in the hall. How lucky I am to be able to take a break from my nomadic journey! How good the people are to me !
Every evening my luggage and my bike are ready to go, but in the morning when I wake up it’s impossible to leave. Have I gone too far ? Have I pushed my body beyond its limit ? Will I finally be ready to ride again tomorrow morning ? I want to so much… No choice, tonight again to rest my head and let go of this questioning… If this journey is to end, then I will have accomplished a major challenge and learned to recognize my limits more. Good night Julie…
But you know. I’m back on the road, of course !
It seems that my legs are stronger than my head !
But the solitude of the journey has been joined by an air of simplicity…
Pedalling would be enough for me.
Even if deep down, in order to share better, I would embark you all on a one kilometre long tandem-totem pushed or braked by the winds of this Great Country… Just to hear your breaths in the effort and your cries of joy on the way down !
My trip is not over yet. Newfoundland is made up of countless islands around an island and attractive peninsulas overlooking an infinite sea…
Next step, Fogo Island and its mythical hotel…
Thank you for continuing to follow me, to read me, to motivate me.
Radio interview at the Blanc-Sablon station with Abbygail Wellman.
Everything that goes up must come down.
We were at Lake Louise…
239 km from Jasper on the Glacier Road.
A park warden informed us that it would be impossible to sleep in a wilderness campground in the national park. We didn’t like it but the campsites were closed because it was too early in the season. No choice, especially as a recently awakened mother grizzly is prowling around and our food would be a perfect target!
We are in the transition from winter to spring. The bears are waking up from their sleep and are also in a new cycle. The wake-up call is brutal and they still haven’t had their first morning coffee! We must therefore be vigilant to avoid a potential encounter.
When travelling, every constraint can become an opportunity.
Our solution: rent a car to Edmonton. We can still enjoy the nature and the national park and we can do some hiking and rest our tired muscles.
So here I am, hiking in Jasper. After my head injury, hiking in the high mountains was impossible for me, as the altitude was unsettling. I felt strong and ready to attempt this 2200m mountain. The happiness of climbing a mountain was coming back to me! I am here, I am succeeding! I undertook the climb. My symptoms had disappeared! Step by step I climbed, step by step the happiness of success permeated my being!
Suddenly, I can’t go on, I’m shaking…
I feel the symptoms of 3 years ago coming back! I don’t want to experience this weakness again! I am afraid, I am still shaking, I have no balance… a step forward is endless… The summit is there and I want to reach it. I resist and continue even though I am afraid to stay in this state. There is a mixture of happiness and pride at having managed to get so high and despair at the return of the symptoms.
1800 metres. How come I can’t go any further, how come my body is resisting, how come my head has no control over anything? And this mountain, so threatening, doesn’t allow me to take a false step…
My travel partner is worried and has to help me to get down safely. I am now back down to 1000 metres; my loss of balance is fading and I am regaining my inner stability.
Fatigue set in and a few days’ break in Edmonton would be much appreciated. The abrupt transition from the mountains to the plains was necessary…
I open the door of this small hotel room… Tears are running down my sunburnt cheeks! The symptoms are back… Half of my head is numb and I am shaking! A rest here will do me a lot of good. I hope that the plain will bring me a salutary lull…
Would the spirit of the Bear, encountered in the heights, come to signify to me the need to pull myself together and set up more appropriate limits to assert my personal space and a new rhythm for my peregrinations?
I will have the Plains to answer…
Travel, adventure, nomadic life is a way of life that feeds my soul, my mind and my heart!
I am in my comfort zone and this helps me to reduce the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome !
The stress of a life that doesn’t suit me is behind me.
It feels so good !
It takes me back a few years and makes me realize that :
for all healing, no matter what the trauma, illness or even depression, the minute we are on our life path or doing what we are passionate about, we accelerate our healing.
It’s a safe bet that if I had gone through the government’s head injury program, I would still be on the treadmill three days a week. I’m so lucky to have the great scenery flash before my eyes and to feel my legs burning up from the miles of asphalt !
Nature, the outdoors and intense exercise energise and nourish me. I have more stamina than I used to, but when my body gives me a signal, it is sometimes impossible to keep going… So I have to manage my energy carefully; keep hope alive with realism.
Still on my way in the Rockies, the challenge is great, of course… And pushing a bike through two feet of snow is extremely difficult ! However, an inner music accompanies me and the intense happiness that this adventure gives me helps me to continue despite all the physical pains.
My grandmother ! This woman who fascinates me day after day.
It took me many years to finally be known and recognised by you ! You are an important woman to me… I had the chance to live with you, to love you, to cuddle you and to live in intimacy with you. We have shared beautiful moments and it has been an absolute joy to be close to you; me who has always loved you.
Today, I came to see you just before I left, before leaving to live this longed-for adventure. You were there, present during this difficult moment of my concussion; we were on the same wavelength: me with my head trauma, and you, a beautiful aging woman, with all the difficulties that this can involve. Luckily we had this third woman, my mother, who supported us in our difficulties.
Today I am leaving this room, where you now live alone; I am leaving with a heavy heart, but happy to have had you close to me in order to know you better in order to know myself better.
I leave with a lot of you in me and a lot of understanding of myself. Thanks to you. You are now 96 years old and maybe this will be the last time I will have seen you… you may not be there when I return !
I love you Grand-Ma !
In 2021, to my challenge of cycling across Canada will be added the challenge of doing so in times of pandemic!
By default, cycling necessarily implies good distancing. I will almost always ride alone, unless I have company for a few kilometers. Of course, I will have to ride with a few humans out of necessity, but be aware that I am well aware of the current health instructions, that I will keep abreast of the evolution of the situation and that I respect the rules that allow us to live in safety and mutual respect.
Far be it from me to be an ambassador for the spread of this disease!
On the contrary, my journey is one of recovering the health and healing power of body and mind, as well as resilience and social solidarity.