Thursday, October 25, 2018

Exciting Announcement!

We are excited to announce that we have received a positive response from the organization we hoped would be central to our hike along the Great Trail from coast-to-coast-to-coast in Canada from 2019-2021. We just learned that we will be working in collaboration with Bird Studies Canada, the country’s leading charitable organization dedicated to the conservation of wild birds! Very exciting! We are looking forward to working with such a wonderful and important organization over the course of the next few years!!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Resources For Navigation and Planning

Given the length of the Great Trail, and the impracticality of preparing for the hike in its entirety, one of the first questions most people ask us is, how do you go about preparing to trek across Canada? While there are a number of wonderful guidebooks for the former Trans Canada Trail - covering much of the Great Trail's route, the reality is that we will be using on a number of digital applications for much of our trek. One of the virtues of the digital world and electronic devices are their ability to provide almost instant assistance, advice, direction, and security for long distance hikers. Below is a brief list of some of the apps, devices, and guides that we will be relying on at the outset of our hike in Spring 2019.

Mobile App
The Great Trail has recently launched a mobile App called "The Great Trail - Explore Canada", which can be downloaded for free from Google Play or the App Store. This app offers three main features that we anticipate will be extremely useful. The 'Map' component provides a map of the entire trail, offers a choice of base maps including street-view, topography, and satellite imagery, and gives the hiker the ability to self-locate on the trail using GPS. The 'Measure' feature of the App allows trail users to calculate the distance between two points on the trail, and the 'Activity Tracker' records the time, elevation, and distance travelled. We anticipate that together with the physical trail markers, this App will likely be one of the most important navigational tools we use.

Google Maps
Another great resource for navigating is Google Maps. While this may sound obvious, the ability to download and use maps offline, and to search for the nearest convenience store, grocery store, pharmacy, or motel is invaluable. Of course, to be most effective Google Maps requires a data connection, which will not always be available.

Garmin inReach Explorer +
To aid with navigation and communication when the Wifi is weak and cell service is absent, we will also be carrying a Garmin inReach Explorer +. This device works as a GPS unit, a two-way communicator, and an emergency beacon all in one. To help with navigation, this device comes with pre-loaded topographic maps, and allows hikers to self-locate using satellite communication. It can also be paired with mobile phones via an App, which should allow us to self-locate using the Great Trail app as well, even when connectivity is weak. Although the navigational capabilities of this device are important, the option for family to track us in real time, the ability to reach them by text and email at all times, and the possibility of contacting emergency services instantly in the event of injuries or other problems is invaluable.

There is no single guidebook for the Great Trail to help prospective hikers plan their journeys. This may be a blessing in disguise, as for a trail of this length such a book would likely be the size and weight of the Oxford English Dictionary. There are many guidebooks available on select parts of the trail, and we found a suite of guidebooks (listed below) that cover entire provinces. So far we have found the information in these guides helpful for planning purposes, but they are all nearly a decade out of date, so we will have to see how useful they prove to be once we are out there.

Lebrecht, Sue. 2003. Trans Canada Trail Newfoundland. Canadian Geographic Enterprises, Ottawa, ON.
Lebrecht, Sue. 2005. Trans Canada Trail Nova Scotia. Canadian Geographic Enterprises, Ottawa, ON.
Lebrecht, Sue. 2004. Trans Canada Trail Prince Edward Island. Canadian Geographic Enterprises, Ottawa, ON.
Lebrecht, Sue. 2005. Trans Canada Trail New Brunswick. Canadian Geographic Enterprises, Ottawa, ON.
Séguin, Yves and Paré, Jean. 2004. The Trans Canada Trail in Québec. Ulysses Travel Guides, Montréal, QC.
Lebrecht, Sue. 2003. Trans Canada Trail Manitoba. Canadian Geographic Enterprises, Ottawa, ON.
Obee, Bruce. 2008. Trains Canada Trail British Columbia. Whitecap Books, Vancouver, BC.
Bastedo, Jamie. 2010. Tran Canada Trail Official Guide Northwest Territories. Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Markham, ON.

So far we have found only one recently published resourc on the Great Trail:

Haynes, Michael. 2018. The Best of the Great Trail: Volume 1. Goose Lane, Fredericton, NB.

This publication is a welcome and wonderful resource, but as even the author admits, it is not a comprehensive guide to the trail in terms of its coverage.

Word of Mouth and Online Blogs
Last but not least, a very useful source of information when planning and navigating a trail is advice from locals, or from people who have previously hiked the trail. We have spent a great deal of time reading previous hiker's Facebook postings and blogs, as well as watching online videos of Great Trail hikers and regional trekkers. We have also sought advice from other long distance hikers who have traversed the Appalachian Trail (AT), the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) and the American Discovery trail. In almost every instance we have continued to learn, and we can certainly use all the advice we can find! We welcome any constructive suggestions, both during the planning stages and once we're on the trail.