A Dream (temporarily) Deferred ....
** This Blog Post has been edited from its original publication in order to emphasize the single fact that we are NOT hiking during the 2021 Covid Pandemic Outbreak in Ontario and Canada. This is the very point of this entry to note that we do not feel it is repsonsible for us to trek during this time. **
When we set out in 2019 our plan was to present a positive view
of the nation, the outdoors, trails and Canada’s wild spaces. The past year has
been tough and the critiques have gotten tougher and more draining. In large part because of the commentary we
have spent a great deal of the recent winter months trying to respond while still
encouraging and remaining positive.
While you have all been patient with our new topics and supportive in
your messages, I also know that the voice we presented was far less than universally positive all the time. Despite our best efforts, I suspect that we had begun to lose our way… exhaustion can do that.
We set out with the hope of returning to the Great Trail several weeks ago to go into quarantine. We did so before the Covid numbers began to rise again. At the time and to the location we set out to there were no inter-provincial restrictions in place, no requirements to quarantine, stores and shops across the country were again open and in our goal province there was only a curfew to strictly obey. At the time every provincial government was encouraging people to get outdoors and stay active responsibly - which was our goal as well. In other words when we set back out we violated NO laws, obeyed ALL regulations and went beyond the expectations by quarantining.
During this period, while we were in a self imposed quarantine, the number of Covid infections again began to rise staring what is termed the ‘third wave’. While in quarantine we watched as lock downs began again and we hoped that things would improve as fewer people interacted. Unfortunately, according to authorities they haven’t. Though it is a hard thing to guess given that so much of the world around us both in Ontario and in Quebec is busily moving along and going about life as usual. On the streets and trails life seems normal. Construction is going on everywhere. Grocery stores are packed with customers. Parks are full of picnickers, pathways are filled with cyclists and walkers, while golf courses are lined up at each tee. It is only when you get near to a WIFI signal, see a TV or hear a news report that fear, crisis, and doom are reintroduced.
In the past few months one of the hardest things that we have had to deal with has been the rise of ‘group thinking’ and quick judgement in the online world. When we have not responded quick enough to a comment or world event we have been “listed” and “put on notice” by people to do as they do and say as they say. When our posts on birds have not taken the form that some wish they have ensured that we are pushed out of birding groups, had interviews and articles with Ornithology publications cancelled, and were no longer able to share about our trek. And when our gear lists and food considerations were released we were met with criticism for being horrible hikers and told that we were bad influences on those new to the outdoors. Apparently rather than being honest we were supposed to have acted like life coaches promoting the ideal rather than the real. I however have always favoured honesty.
Given the current circumstances of the pandemic certainly some public concern is understandable – we all need to respect social distancing, wear masks, and be extra safe. However, the fact also is that much of the group thinking online has begun to transform into hysteria, rumour mongering, and little more than bullying. All of which is increasingly easy to fall into the trap of while sitting at home for 14 months with little more than our screens to entertain and "inform" us. Given this situation it also seems that so many of us are losing touch with what the world is actually like. Plans are made in accord with the demands of those on social media, ideas are critiqued and noted as true or false based on group thinking, moral proclamations are made in fits of mass hysteria, while neighbours call the authorities on one another over some imagined slight. Even for things as simple as what we eat when we are on the trail have led to intense email discussions and demanding critiques recently.
These days it is increasingly hard to know what to do and how to do it because so much so much is presumed without fact and so much is judged on opinion.
When we set out more than 2 weeks ago to enter quarantine, we did so because it was safe and responsible at the time, and because we wanted to see what the world was like for ourselves without the filter of the online world. When we set out this year we did NOT break any laws, we did NOT violate inter-provincial restrictions, we did NOT break quarantine, and we did NOT violate curfew. Yet even this was not enough it seems, and so the online world, texts of critique, messages of hate, and emails set on derailing things began again in the extreme. All of which makes it very hard to enjoy the moment and to present the trail and the country in a positive light.
Tonight after two weeks of quarantine spent striving to navigate the challenges set in front of us and the self doubts woven into us the Ontario Provincial government made the decision for us. As of April 19th the Ontario-Quebec as well as the Ontario-Manitoba boarders are being sealed and a mandated extension of the lock down has been authorized. In Quebec we have been told a further lock down measures are set to also be imposed. In other words, as of this announcement tonight, we have no choice but to return to our province of origin. Our hopes for this year are done.
To be very clear at this point in 2021 we have not walked a single step on The Great Trail during the Covid Pandemic.
In moving forward this trek cannot just be about getting kilometres in and finishing provinces, it has to be about doing so responsibly as well as enjoying the experience in order to share it in a positive light in order to make the nation appear as it is – naturally beautiful and a wonderful place to be. At the moment we don't feel that either of these goals are possible.
One phrase has played out in my mind in the past few hours of coming to terms with everything – sometimes the writing is on the wall. I have come to see that as much as I want to continue hiking and as much as we are running out of time to complete our trek, the reality is that sometimes what we want is just not possible.
Sadly I cannot say I am surprised at this turn of events given that almost everything since leaving quarantine has indicated that our time on the trail this spring was simply not meant to be.
While sequestered away we had to address concerns raised by a Facebook user who erroneously believed that we were set to violate the Atlantic Bubble by starting the Great Trail this year in St. John’s. The result was a tense conversation with the RCMP in Newfoundland. Another follower called the OPP misinforming them that we were moving between regions during the Stay at Home order in Ontario. While today, a hiker in another province has emailed threatening to call the police in both Quebec and Manitoba (our two possible goals) to ‘make sure we are arrested and imprisoned unless we stop our hike on the Great Trail’. For what I am not sure, since we have not done anything illegal and we have yet to even try to hike. But these are the responses and realities we now regularly deal with.
We have also had challenges in simply figuring out where to start. While in our quarantine in Quebec, our plans where to return to our point of departure in 2019. However we soon encountered difficulty after difficulty in gaining permission to be allowed to navigate through the Charlevoix region. It became clear that once we left quarantine, that rather than starting our hike where we had hoped that we would instead we stumble right out of the block and would be forced to resume trekking out of Quebec City instead - once we left quarantine.
Finally, the results of the non-stop issues and online attacks have taken their toll on both of us, but especially Sean. He has already had a hard year physically and has not taken the stress of the situation or the emails well. The fact is that while much of our time in nature is meant to be restorative for him but the responses to our adventures since 2019 are not. As a result, the effects of the nonstop critiques have begun to show in the extreme on him.
As I said, sometimes the writing is on the wall.
Given the situation and in accord with Government of Ontario’s impending regulations we are accepting that it is no longer possible and no longer responsible for us to even attempt trekking out on the Great Trail at the moment. We are therefore going directly from quarantine back to our home province having NEVER set foot on the Great Trail in 2021.
As such, we are going to take some time, refocus, and figure out what to do next.
Thank you to everyone for your support and kindness over the past 3 years, we are sorry that we are not not be able to continue on at the moment but hope that with any luck we will be able to venture forward as soon as it is responsible to do so.
Where we go now...I have no idea.
See you on the trail!
Remember to follow our entire adventure here : www.comewalkwithus.online
I am so sorry..please care for yourselves.ReplyDelete
I am glad you are off the trail. It was wildly irresponsible for you to be out there during this pandemic. None of the rest of the Pathfinders are on the trail and you are an embarrassment to us all for having gone out. I hope the great trail has nothing further to do with you.ReplyDelete
Glad you are not hiking! Serves you right for going out when no one else can. I hope you die of Covid!ReplyDelete
UZ alls should be charged and fucked up the ass for being super spreaders. Looking at those pictures I bet that bitch is alreayd a super spreader for every dick in the country!!! Hippy cunt is sloppy but easy! Hey hipy if you want a real man just dial me upReplyDelete
This is a horrible thing to wish on anyone, shame on you.ReplyDelete
What an epic failure and waste of everyone;s time! Bet you wish you hadn't been stupid enough to sell your house and give up a good job? Got what you deserved for being an arrogant twat. Good luck living on the streets...cause there ain't no birding and high life for you out there. Tim eto learn waht real living is like and how real canadians live! Way to crash hard! love to see this typ eof failure!ReplyDelete
Another failed libtard project, time to actually work for a living rather than walking around lecturing people. Hope you get get a job at MCD's with that PhD in trees ....lol.ReplyDelete
How sad and infuriating to read the pathetic, vitriolic comments spewed by all (or maybe just one particularly despicable) the brave, anonymous "social justice warriors"! Don't blame you folks for feeling the need to withdraw and rejuvenate. My own opinion of the human race always takes a severe hit when I read the comments section of any blog post or opinion piece. There are so many meanspirited and self-righteous jerks lurking out there in cyberspace. Keep your chins up - I like to think most of us are still decent, sympathetic people.ReplyDelete
So glad you failed! Children have to learn that life isn't made of hopes and dreams and faggy hikes in the woods. Real Canadian children need to see how tough the world is. If we want to Make Canada Great Again we need children who know that they have to actually work and not just walk thru life singing a sweet song about nature and pretty birds. Wonder what these two idiots will be doing next? Likely off to ehlp foreigners come into the country or be drug mules. What looseers!ReplyDelete
Good Day All,ReplyDelete
The world of covid is certainly different and has place a lot of stress on a number of people. Unfortunately a lot of people have nothing better to do than criticize other people for trying to live their dream. The comments seem to be from people who do not know how to dream and because of this failure are living small, miserable lives.
My hiking dreams have been spoiled by declining healthy (which comes with old age) and the mismanagement of the covid response. I take great joy in getting out for walks and doing some birding. I look forward to talking some longer walks/hikes and to travel to different areas in the mid west to hike/camp/bird.
I hope that Sean recovers his health and I hope that you can find a wonderful future endeavor. I lived in Ontario for 8 yrs; however, my wife and I enjoyed being downeast and it was why we retired to New England. Going to restart reading your blog and looking forward to your posts.
I'm so very sorry to hear you have to give up your dream of hiking across Canada at the present time and distressed to hear about all the negativity you have experienced online. Please know that for every troll out there, there are many, many people who enjoy following your journey and don't say anything (like me). I have unsubscribed but wish you a smooth path ahead and a decision of what to do next which brings you joy.ReplyDelete
I just want to enter a positive comment to counteract some of the meaningless hate I see in some other comments. These negative comments have also inspired me to make a donation through your website. What you set out to do and what you accomplished so far has been amazing.ReplyDelete
Like others have stated, I don’t agree with the vitriolic and outright disgusting comments you’ve endured on this and other postings you’ve made. However, I feel there is certainly some constructive criticism warranted in your case. Firstly, can you really sincerely say that you’re surprised people called police on you? Even though Doug Ford’s government has been anything but clear through this pandemic, public health officials, at all levels of government, have been very consistent about one thing - only travel for ESSENTIAL purposes. The title of your blog post says it all - this is YOUR DREAM. This is in no way an essential trip, it’s nothing more than a vacation to fulfil some desire of your own. And to insist on attempting it now is nothing short of self-centred. The majority of Canadians have been staying at home as much as possible for 14+ months to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Do you truly believe your travel is somehow special and should be exempt from this guideline? Just because you didn’t do anything illegal doesn’t mean that you haven’t done anything wrong. And, I think deep down inside, you know it’s been wrong, which is why you’ve been so secretive about where you were intending to start your non-essential vacation this year. The majority of Canadians have sat back and had to watch as those who have felt the rules don’t apply to them have vacationed, cottaged, hiked, had parties, etc. This is no different. You like to toss out the notion that you’re ‘homeless’, but you’ve become homeless as a matter of choice (which is such an insult to actual homeless people, but that’s another discussion entirely). Nevertheless, this seems to be the reason why you feel like your vacation is warranted, while others’ are not. Take a good hard look at yourselves in the mirror. Your actions are extremely disrespectful to the health care workers, front line workers, the majority of Canadians who have been abiding by public health guidelines, and to the thousands of families who have had their lives destroyed by losing loved ones to COVID-19. I hope you take this time to reflect and formulate a deep apology for feeling so entitled for even entertaining the thought that you two are somehow above everyone else and should be able to carry on with your ‘dream’ - a.k.a. your non-essential vacation.ReplyDelete
Geez....spoken like someone who has never had a tough day in their life. An insult to homeless people? They have gone on parties and to cottages? They owe you a personal apology? Try getting up out of your armchair and stop judging people for a bit. They never said they were above anyone and they never hiked. You are the one who lectures like you are above everyone else and know the truth of all. Only you can define who is homeless, only you know true suffering, only you know what choices can and can't be made. Must be nice to be so all knowing. Go back to your lazy boy and get ready to rant and rave at the morning's news posts with all your expertise and leave others alone.Delete
Love the presumptions and assumptions in this 'witty reply'. The Trump administration must miss you in their staff of elite know it alls. Since you are gearing up to judge everyone (presumedly the children in your region are all being lectured by you) I hope you also realize that other hikers are out there during Covid. There are thousands out on the Appalachian Trail, on the Camino de Santiago, and other Canadian trails. I hope you find them all and make them 'apologize to you' too. There are also others on the Trans CAnada Trail. JUSI Adventures hiked last year during the Pandemic, and Dianne Whelan of 500 days in the Wild is hiking in BC right now. I imagine you are picking on them too! I feel bad for people like you, running around judging people. Likely an old man wondering why his wife has left him or his kids don't talk to him anymore or his neighbours hate him. Enjoy your time in your lazyboy screaming at people.Delete
Joe I am here because of your rants about these people on facebook and so decided to check it out for myself. And I have to say I am a little confused at your level of hatred and the suggestions of violence against them you are making online too. Why don't you actually read the post and notice that they DID NOT GO HIKING BECAUSE OF COVID. So why do they owe you an apology again? Perhaps you should note they stayed in quarantine because of Covid and never walked on the trail because of Covid. Try reading you might learn something. Perhaps it is time you stopped being bored with your life yelling at the neighbor's kids, beating your wife, and monitoring all the foreigners in your community through binoculars and got out and lived some. Calm the Fuck down Joe and reconsider some of the stuff about others that you are saying.ReplyDelete