So today we have come to a crossroads in our trek for the year. When we originally set out we had hoped to hike Quebec and venture at least as far west as Saskatoon by the end of 2021. Getting to Saskatoon this year puts us in range of completing the East-West segment of the TCT in 2022. Yet it is early September and we undoubtedly have the time to trek further west amid pleasant weather. In terms of distance, Saskatoon is only 828 km on the Trans Canada Trail (or 28-32 days) from Edmonton – a distance equal to trekking the Camino Frances from Saint Jean Pied Port to Santiago to Finisterre.
In deciding to venture onward there is no denying that weather and energy are now the determining factors. It is the second of these that we are now struggling with since all that influences this hike across Canada is not on the trail itself.
The fact is that my parents have been waiting on a number of medical procedures during Covid and are of the age that they need help. Also given Covid and the understandable limitations on travel I have not been able to visit them in the past 18 months, and with the rising case numbers amid the Delta surge I both worry about how they are doing and wonder when I will be able to get to see them again.
In addition to these worries, a number of random hiccups while in Saskatoon have left us wondering whether it is the right time to continue on at the moment. Perhaps we should take a break from the trail for a week? Perhaps we should again try to venture across Quebec? Or perhaps (though I very much doubt this) should we just be done for the year?
After arriving into Saskatoon we have been waiting – in both campgrounds and a hotel – for 5 days for our winter gear to arrive. According to its tracking number from Canada Post it arrived here before us in late August – yet for the past 5 days it has been bounced between the sorting plant and pick up point (and back and forth, and back and forth, etc) with no one in the system knowing exactly why or where it is. Our most recent update during a phone call with Canada Post was to be told to wait until after the long weekend – another 3-4 days. Given that we cannot afford to stay here in town indefinitely waiting for Canada Post this means that we would need to hike onward (and northward) without any cold weather gear – a challenging prospect given the cooler night temperatures now.
In addition to this we have had a number of troubles with our reservations in town and have lost my new Keen hiking sandals at the hotel we were finally able to stay in – owing to an overzealous hotel cleaning staff.
Furthermore, as we have come to see in the past couple of weeks our tent, seems to have lost all ability to keep the rains, fog, and damp of the fall season out anymore – though it seems increasingly adept at keeping water in. Given this situation it is clearly time to replace our tent – yet despite all attempts to find / locate /order a new habitat – it would seem that suitable tents are now in very short supply.
Another factor is that despite our long break in Saskatoon our push to get caught up (writing and publishing 15 blogs, 34 Facebook postings, thousands of photographs edited and 3 articles) neither of us feel very rested. In fact we both feel as though we are running on empty. I can’t honestly explain why we are so tired but the exhaustion now feels bone deep and no amount of showering, cleaning or sleeping has fixed it in the past few days that we have been working while here in Saskatoon. As a result each new challenge, no matter how minor, now seems like a mountain to be overcome.
With all of this in mind and having given up on Canada Post and our winter gear, when we set out this morning and encountered a number of trail closure signs – which are not a big deal to reroute around – the world seemed to be saying to us that it was time to take a brief break away from the pathway.
As such this morning after a long debate between the two of us and a heartfelt talk with my father, we are going to take a week away from the Trans Canada Trail in order to continue to catch up, rest and figure out whether to continue west or attempt Quebec for the fourth time since starting in 2019.
Thank you all for your wonderful support and encouragement throughout the past few months of hiking – and we look forward to getting back to the TCT very shortly!
Sonya and Sean