In 2019 we trekked through snow storms, blizzards, and even a hurricane - never did we imagine that we would have to confront the realities of a global pandemic as well.
Perhaps John Lennon said it best when he noted that "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." In the last few weeks - watching our 2020 trekking plans crumble in the age of Covid 19, ending up in isolation in a motel, and loosing so much support - no sentiment seems more apt.
As many of you know, our initial plans to return to the Great Trail in Southwestern Ontario in April of 2020 have understandably been cancelled – trail organizations have closed pathways, municipalities have shuttered campgrounds and lodgings, and Quebec has sealed its borders to non-essential travellers. In this past month we have been contacted by regional tourist organizations from across Quebec and Ontario asking us to stay away. City councillors have reached out informing us that we will be charged and arrested if we come to their area, and we have become the subject of a great deal of online ire from people who both want us to stop hiking and those who demand that we continue.
The majority of our arranged presentations have been cancelled, our sponsorship and financial support has been revoked, and the notion of camping and hiking in communities already stressed by this situation simply means that it is irresponsible for us to continue trekking at the moment. While admittedly even though we spend much of our time isolated from others while hiking the need to resupply and periodically stay in campgrounds or motels en route would place too much of a burden on rural and remote communities striving to care for their own.
All of this is of course a tough pill to swallow. While we abide - as we all should and must - by the advice of health officials, the patchwork opening of provinces and states across North America as well as the shifting advice of professionals and politicians makes it a challenging situation to say the least. Watching people play soccer in the fields or having BBQ parties in their driveways, makes all of us just want to get on with it. But that isn't what is in the best interests of the public, our neighbours, or ourselves. The only way through this is together.
At the same time, we have been contacted by other friends, hikers and global explorers - on the Camino de Santiago, Appalachian Trail, Pacific Coast Trail, the American Discovery Trail, and of course The Great Trail indicating - reluctantly - that they believe that the hiking year is done for. We hope this isn't the case for us, however, respecting the situation, heading the advice of health officials, and acknowledging the vulnerability of rural communities by maintaining social distancing is necessary at the moment.
Now certainly - with all my complaining - we both recognize that we put ourselves in this situation and that we are by no means in the type of dire straights that so many people throughout this country and around the world are suffering through. Ours is a complaint of impatience and luxury. Despite the challenges of the moment - we are safe, secure, and healthy. While our pant sizes are growing and our bank balances are shrinking our desire to get back into nature is simple Wanderlust and not an essential service (though trust us we have tried to justify that to ourselves).
Now don't worry - trust that we are anxious and have every intention to getting back onto the Great Trail just as soon it is reasonable to do so. Our backpacks have been packed and been beside the door since March 20th and we - like so many around the world - listen to the news daily for signs that it is once again possible to get back to normal.
Depending on circumstances - we might not be able to trek some of the provinces in order, but rest assured that we will cover those sections in the coming years - we want to see and show all of Canada!
Like so many of you, as the weather warms up, we are counting the hours, minutes and news cycles for positive news.