BY JENNIFER HOEGG
Kings County Advertiser/Register
Emily Forrest is walking along the Argyle Sound Road, a half-hour outside of Lower Argyle, enjoying the sun, the wind and the view while talking on her cell phone.
“This is my 15th day and I haven’t been really rained on yet. I have been slathering myself in 40 SPF sunscreen... but my face has turned into one big freckle.”
Forrest’s estimated 3.4 million footfalls will take her around 2,995 kilometres of the province’s coast to raise awareness for two causes: Camp Brigadoon- a camp for children living with chronic illness being built on Aylesford Lake- and Heart and Stroke Walkabout, an initiative of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Department of Health Promotion and Protection and the Ecology Action Centre to encourage a culture of walking.
Her path began in Halifax May 13; she walked down the South Shore to Yarmouth. She continues up through the Valley this week, across to Truro, around the Fundy coast and across Amherst, on to Cape Breton and then down the Eastern Shore; returning to Halifax August 8. That’s about 6,000 steps an hour during her eight-hour days.
“At the end of my day, my feet are throbbing but, when you’re walking, you aren’t thinking about it.”
Originally from New Brunswick, Forrest attended Acadia and then worked with the Atlantic Theatre Festival for a number of years. She’ll come “home” to Kings County this week, walking along Highway 1 from Middleton to Berwick June 4 and then Berwick to Wolfville June 5.
“I’m looking forward to the wonderful slope when you come past the Port Williams turn-off, come down to the Hennigars’ farm market and know you’re coming into Wolfville.”
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Her route will then dip into the Gaspereau Valley before heading to Avonport, Hantsport and Windsor June 6.
Sharing steps and stories
Forrest met many people during the first two weeks of her walk.
“I have had some days when I’m just on my own, but today a gentleman set aside half-an-hour to walk with me. In Shelburne, Pat Dewar organized a group of seven people to walk an hour out of town to meet me.”
Others have spent a bit more time striding beside Forrest.
“A woman from East Jordan - a 68-year-old woman - walked the whole day with me, almost 40 km. It was amazing. She said she heard about me and she decided she wanted to try it. She was as fit as a fiddle.”
She’s gathering tales, too.
“I love the views and the people that I meet. People are sitting down (in the evenings) and talking with me. Learning about the communities and these interesting stories, and the next day I walk by what we talked about. It’s really motivating.”
The Halifax resident looks forward to “rehashing the memories” of her walk by turning it into a book once the journey is done.
Forrest admits the walk has been a bit harder than she anticipated.
“I was a little naïve. I had been doing training days for six weeks in Halifax, but I had been resting in between. Doing all the days in a row puts more stress on feet - some blisters, some shin splint action.
“I was struggling with my feet and, when I got to Cape Sable Island, there was a lot of traffic. I didn’t realize what a booming community that was! That was a struggle day - pushing through the pain in my feet, but the good outweighs the bad. It’s pretty minor: I’m raising money for Brigadoon and I’m whining about my feet! So, I’m trying to buck up.”
Forrest says she had a very blessed childhood, explaining her attraction to the Brigadoon project.
“I thought this would be a great opportunity to tell people about the camp all around the province. I think that’s happening. I have been fairly successful raising a little bit of money. I can’t carry cash donations with me for safety, but I have a card to tell people how to donate by phone or online, and people have been donating to Heart and Stroke, as well.”
A young Middleton resident, 13-year-old Colton Richards, was inspired to join in to help Brigadoon by raising money and joining Forrest for a 45 km day between Annapolis Royal and Middleton.
“He’s got a pedometer, he’s checking a step and he’s trying to get up to a six- or seven-hour walks before he’s with me,” Forrest says. “It’s pretty amazing for a 13-year-old.”
Forrest would love to have more people join her through the Valley. To connect with her en route, visit “Forrest Walkabout” on FaceBook, call (902)497-7021 or follow her on Twitter. Individuals and groups can start their own “walkabout” at the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s website.