An Epic Journey

No one has ever suggested I plan too small, but this time even I am in awe of the adventure we are about to undertake.

“We” includes my long-time friend and hiking partner, Helen.  Since our retirement 6 years ago, we have hiked almost 1,200 km together, completing both the Bruce Trail and Oak Ridges Moraine Trail End-to-End.  Both of these trails are in Southern Ontario and reasonably accessible from our homes.

Oak Ridge 12

Helen and I on the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail, 2014

However, we have been challenged for a while trying to decide what our next adventure would look like.  We kicked around the idea of the Camino de Santiago, the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Coast Trail, … but nothing ever really landed on two feet.

Until now.

In preparation for Canada’s 150th birthday this year, there has been considerable effort made to link together the vast network of recreational trails that exist across the country. With 91% of the trail complete and over 21,000 km of connected trail, we finally heard the siren song of the Great Trans-Canada Trail.

great trailIt is billed as the longest recreational trail in the world, and when fully connected, it will be 24,000 km long including urban, rural, wilderness, and waterway trails.

There is nothing quite like an audacious goal to get me excited.

At our current ages of 70 (Helen) and 60 (me), this goal includes a healthy helping of hopeful thinking, but why not?  Life should be a grand adventure.

Bruce Trail

Helen and I on the Bruce Trail, 2013

Unlike our journey on the Bruce Trail, it is not our intention to start at one end of the country and work our way sequentially across to the other end.  Nor do we intend to walk the entire distance.  Whenever and wherever possible, our plan is to bicycle.

I’ve been pouring over maps the past several weeks and much to my dismay, neither the Bruce Trail or the Oak Ridges Moraine count as mileage on the Great Trail.

So far I’ve been able to identify only a modest 32 km of trail we have previously walked and will not be repeating for this journey.  At 0.15% of the trail,  it’s not even a blip on the map yet, but that number will start to tick upwards over the months – and years – ahead.

Our adventure starts next week.  It will be epic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Random sign from the Don Valley Trail – NOT on the Trans-Canada

 

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About Joanne Sisco

Retired but not idle. Life is an adventure - I plan to continue to embrace it.
This entry was posted in Active Lifestyle, Adventure, Nature, Outdoor Stuff, Random Stuff and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

135 Responses to An Epic Journey

  1. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! You crazy woman (said in the voice of René from ‘Allo ‘Allo!, but with love)! Why don’t you tackle China, while you’re at it? 😀 If 32 km is 0.15%, I can’t even picture the entirety. I don’t live with such distances in my head, my country of origin is just over 300 km lengthwise. But I knew something big was coming since you said at the start that even you were in awe. 😉 You rolemodel, you!

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  2. Applause to you both for even thinking about such an adventure. 🙂

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  3. Ted says:

    That’s a long way. Moments of elation, times of trouble and some of it could b quite boring. Not an easy task, even when done in stages. I wish you well and look forward to hearing about it.

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      It sounds like you’ve done a lot of long distance hiking / cycling and know the realities well! There will inevitably be the days I’ll wonder what on earth we’re doing and why we thought it was a good idea 🙂

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  4. That sounds like so much fun. Can’t wait to hear more about it! The Appalachian and the Camino are both on my future radar screen. 🙂 Now I’ll have to look at the Canadian one too. 🙂

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      The Appalachian is rugged and more in line with the kind of hiking I like to do.
      I’m guessing the Trans-Canada will be predominantly ‘recreational’ trail which means it’s going to be tame – hence my desire to use bikes as much as possible. I’ll get to find out how close to the mark I am 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Mama Cormier says:

    Being part of your road crew for a section of your adventure sounds like fun. If you make your way to Christian Island in the summer (when I’m officially retired) I’d be happy to drive you back to the city. You could stay for the night, have a swim in Georgian Bay, enjoy a meal, etc.. I have so many questions about your adventure I don’t know where to begin. How would you get to your farther destinations, i.e. the east coast and the west coast, if you’re only doing small portions at a time? Will you be camping overnight or will all your trips be day trips? Can’t wait to read about your adventures. By the way I’m serious about being part of your road crew. Not sure how much having my father move in with us will impact on my personal time but I can dream too.

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Carol, that is so generous of you!! I am humbled and overwhelmed by the support and encouragement so many people like you have shown for this adventure!

      I hadn’t thought of this as more than a mention on my blog and perhaps an occasional story if I thought something was interesting. People have asked me so many questions, now I’m thinking another post is necessary 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mama Cormier says:

        Yes, please don’t keep us hanging. We want to know when and where you are going.

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        • Joanne Sisco says:

          Will do. That’s a promise 🙂

          As a matter of fact, I think we’re going to be in your neck of woods tomorrow for a walk – you guessed it, on the Trans-Canada.
          We’re going to be heading west from Marie Curtis Park. It likely won’t be more than a couple of hours – assuming this wind dies down!!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Mama Cormier says:

            I hope you’re not walking on Lakeshore Blvd. It’s not very pretty but there is a trail south of there that goes through some parkland. We often ride our bikes through there and sometimes we end up in Port Credit and have lunch or a snack by the river.

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            • Joanne Sisco says:

              Unfortunately I think a lot of the Trans-Canada will fall in the category of ‘not pretty’. At least that was our experience with the Oak Ridges Moraine.
              My preference is the ruggedness of the Bruce Trail rather than ‘urban’ or ‘rural’, but it’s all an adventure in experiencing our environment 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  6. Jeff Bell says:

    Is there are word for bigger than epic? You will need new vocab for this endeavor. I drove to Alaska once and that took forever! Excited to see your journey.

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  7. Helen Bushe says:

    Wow! Epic! What an adventure. I’ve added you both to my (very small) list of heroes.

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  8. Mrs. P says:

    WOW…how awesome!!! Helen, you amaze and inspire me! ❤

    Joanne, if you can manage…please do keep a map that updates us on the sections of the trail you have covered!

    Woo Hoo!!!

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  9. That’s such an amazing goal – good for you!! It’s always great to be striving toward something. A very ambitious goal that will keep you busy for years and how fun!! Good luck! Can’t wait to read about your adventures.

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Thanks 🙂
      It is such a big, overwhelming goal, I’ve already started to break it down into smaller ‘bite’sized’ pieces. It’s big, it’s bold, and it’s very exciting!

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  10. LB says:

    Joanne, I am thrilled about your new adventure! and I wonder how I will ever keep up. Have you considered a separate blog or page of your blog to post to? I’d love to somehow keep up with your travels.
    Have you considered how long it might take? meaning do you hope to cover some each week or month?
    Finally, if visitors happen upon you along the way, might they be able to join in? (hint, hint)

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      I’m so thrilled by the enthusiasm people like you have been expressing about our audacious goal … including a desire to join us.
      To that I reply, yes! It would be fun to include guest voyageurs on our adventure 🙂

      I started to write a very long response to your comment and decided I should keep it simple 🙂
      Basically, I haven’t decided yet whether I will be blogging about this – except occasionally on my current blog – or whether I will start a new blog and detail our adventure.
      If I decide on the latter, I’ll post about it on my current blog.

      We haven’t set a annual goal yet, but the approach we’ve taken in the past is to chip away at the trail every week with our annual target in mind.
      At a high level, I’m guessing it’ll take 12 years, but of course it will be affected by our ongoing good health, both physically and financially.

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  12. Go Helen and Joanne! I just read Sue’s blog and watched her ‘Born to Move’ video and now I read about your two off on an adventure like this! Life should be a grand adventure. Happy adventuring you two. I am totally inspired! I love this blogging thing and the strong, adventurous ‘can do’ women I have met!

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      That’s what I love about blogging too 🙂
      We find kindred spirits and we feed off each other’s energy and enthusiasm.

      Challenging our limits and stepping outside our comfort zones isn’t for everyone. Yet other people – like us – need it. It’s what excites us about getting up in the morning 🙂

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  13. apollard says:

    so this is what retirement means, I can’t wait 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sounds amazing, Joanne! You go, girls (women.) At first I thought you were going to do that entire thing at one very, very long go. This will give you something to look forward to for many years.

    janet

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Now that would be an amazing adventure, to do it in one long go!! Unfortunately, it’s not very realistic … assuming one thinks this venture is even remotely realistic to begin with 😉
      But – as you said – it will keep us focused for a VERY long time.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. reocochran says:

    If you haven’t already left, here is my biggest HUG to you both and sincerely good wishes for travel mercies and safe doses of wondrous moments!! You go, Helen and Joanne!
    Neither of you look like the ages you stated so keep on drinking that fountain of youth! ❤

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  16. bikerchick57 says:

    This is awesome, Joanne. You are my adventure hero! I am so excited for you and Helen and it’s giving me the itch to plan a few biking escapades with my neighbor this summer. I expect many wonderful reports and beautiful photos from the Canadian trail in the coming months. Just remember to be safe and stay safe. (I so want to be retired and inviting myself to your fun. Maybe in the coming years we can find a way to meet and spend some time on a bike trail.)

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      I would love that!!
      My new bike is for trail riding to accommodate the multi-terrain I expect we’re going to encounter.
      That means I now have a bike and we could ride together on the trails 🙂

      … and we’re going to be out there for not just months … it’ll be YEARS!!
      I just did the math on ONE section of Ontario and it’s over 800 km / 500 miles!

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      • bikerchick57 says:

        500 miles? Wow. That one would definitely take me years to ride. I tend to average 25 miles in one ride, maybe 30 and never more than two days in a row. Not sure I would keep up with you gals…

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        • Joanne Sisco says:

          I’m hoping we will be able to cover at least 35 miles at a time. The challenge is that we will only be able to use one vehicle which means every trip will be an out-and-back. Instead of making progress at the rate of (say) 50 miles a trip, we’ll in fact be only covering half of that distance on the trail.

          …. unless I can dream up a solution, or find someone who is willing to be our road crew.

          Liked by 1 person

  17. Norm 2.0 says:

    Sounds like a massive undertaking but I sure do love a good challenge. So cool of you both to go for it.
    Let me know when you get to covering the stretch of the trail near here, we’ll be happy to keep you company while you walk or ride 🙂

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  18. I am incredibly impressed… not surprised! Go for it… keep safe and have a blast!

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Thank you. At our age, the biggest thing we worry about is taking a bad fall and hurting ourselves. I’m expecting that this journey will not be as rugged with a risk of injury as previous ventures, but having said that, I’m aware that’s usually when one lets down their guard and gets injured.

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  19. Ally Bean says:

    My goodness, you are an ambitious woman! What you are about to undertake sounds insurmountable to me, but clearly you’ve got this goal in your sights so it’ll happen. Be safe, be happy. Be.

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      I think that’s the best mantra …. “Be”. It’s guided me more than a few times in my life 🙂

      There is no question that this appears insurmountable and it would have been easy to not bother with it. Given the math, the odds aren’t in our favour … but we don’t have anything to lose by trying 🙂

      The thing about starting ANYTHING with Helen is that she’s like a dog with a bone. She doesn’t let it go. There were so many times while hiking the Oak Ridges Moraine that I wanted to quit. It was just so uninspiring. But she dragged my sorry ass out there time after time because ‘we finish what we start’.
      I’ve really gone out on a limb this time by agreeing to undertake this venture!! If we fail, it won’t be from lack of trying.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Pistachios says:

    I am in awe. Hats off to you and Helen!
    Best way to spend a retirement 😀

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  21. I am in total awe and admiration!!! Nice to be witness to strong and courageous women enjoying life and open to new challenges and adventures. What could be better? Can’t wait to read about it…..!

    Peta

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  22. Wow Joanne (and Helen)!! As Cheryl said, we were inspired by you two to take on the Bruce Trail but for this challenge we may not follow in your impressive footsteps😳 As we approach the finish line of the Bruce this year with a bit of sadness at it coming to an end, I can fully understand your desire to keep on moving! Good for you – so excited by your plans and look forward to following along…through your blog!

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Seeing the end of a long distance journey like the Bruce is really sad. I know how you’re going to feel at the end and I sympathize.

      This new adventure is SOOO big, there is little risk that we will see the end of it any time soon.

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  23. Donna says:

    Now you have me excited!! I can’t wait to read about this journey! (You may have even planted a seed about a potential hike for my husband and I to consider…we are always on the look out for our next hiking adventure)!

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      There is a lot of trail at your end of the country. You know the saying … a journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step. Or in this case – 13,000 miles 😉
      What do you have to lose? It’s a long term project that will keep you focused for YEARS 🙂
      … and we can compare notes 😉

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  24. de Wets Wild says:

    Epic it will certainly be, Joanne, and I can see you enjoying every second of it!

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  25. Wow, it appears that you’ve found your muse… and he/she kicked you in your tush! What an adventure. Do you have any idea how long it will take you? I assume that you’ll be saving many (all?) of the parts for spring, summer, and fall months, so it could take several years. I am so excited to follow along!

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      We still have a few guidelines to work out – like how often we’ll hike/ride, what our minimum time or distance will be, etc.
      There’s no question it will take years. At a very high level, I guessed on average a year per province (obviously some more, some less) … 10 provinces, 2 territories … that’s 12 years.
      Pretty scary sounding, isn’t it?!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. jan says:

    I’m sure it will be quite the adventure! Bravo!

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  27. loisajay says:

    Oh, yes–EPIC is most definitely the word! You amaze me. Just be careful of, you know……your shoulder.

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  28. Dan Antion says:

    You guys are heroes! That’s quite an undertaking. You might not complete the whole thing, but I’m sure you’ll make a dent in it. Good luck to you both.

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Thanks Dan. That’s exactly our attitude. One of two things will happen – (1) we’ll eventually finish and it will be a HUGE accomplishment, or (2) at some future date we are forced to stop but we’ll have all the experiences we gathered up to that point.
      Either way, I see it as a win 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Jordan Simard says:

    Wait, what?! You’re doing an epic, grandiose adventure, but not the whole trail… so what are you doing then?! I was shocked, and now confused!

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    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Wait, what?! What do you mean I’m not doing the whole trail?

      There are portions of the trail we have done already on previous hikes. Those parts we aren’t re-doing … we’re considering them done. ie – the Don Valley trail to the Humber, Woodbine and Cherry Beach, Thomson Park.

      Unfortunately that part is really, really small.

      Does that make sense now?

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  30. msgt3227 says:

    Cannot wait to read all about your journeys! Bravo!!!!

    Like

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      Thank you! There are a ton of logistics we have to work out, but we still have hundreds and hundreds of kilometers to get through before we have to start worrying about cross-country travel! 🙂

      Like

  31. Oh EPIC indeed! I’ll be here in my chair rooting you both on! WOW! Can’t wait for the images, and tales to rolling in. Be safe out there!!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. joey says:

    Oh my goodness! How exciting! I look forward to long trails when it’s just The Mister and I again, but I don’t think I’ll be crossing the width of our continent! So ambitious! Very exciting! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Heyjude says:

    Wowie! You don’t do things by half do you? Wishing you every success with the adventure. Makes the 630 miles around the Cornish coast seem very small in comparison… and I’m sure I won’t be able to do that.

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  34. Woo hoo.Epic trail blazers .:-D 😀 😀 A stunning idea. Of course, we’ll hear all about it, right? o_O

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  35. Holy Moly! Let me scrape my jaw up from my lap. You too don’t do anything small, do you? Epic is the right word. It sounds like amazing fun, Joanne. I’m excited for you. Safe traveling, take lots of pictures, and have an amazing time. I can’t wait to hear. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Sue Slaght says:

    Wow! How fabulous is that? I am cheering for riding in Alberta. Not sure if I could keep up with you but at the least will come to cheer. Looking forward to the details ahead! Bravo I say!

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  37. All I can say is OMG. You two are such an inspiration. This is the year Carol and complete the Bruce trail – inspired by you and Helen. Congratulations on your next adventure and can’t wait to follow your progress.

    Like

  38. If you dream, dream big. If you are ready for an adventure, make it worth the while. I wish I could join you. Do you have a time frame in mind?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      That’s right, Bridget. There’s no point in pussyfooting around with maybes. Think big and bold.

      Right now we are focusing on the southern portion of Ontario. I’m hoping we can make a big dent in it this year.
      This will take years – probably the rest of our lives 🙂

      Like

  39. nrhatch says:

    Happy Trails to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Lynn says:

    This sounds awesome Joanne! Perhaps you & Helen might like a 3rd wheel for a km or 2😉🚴‍♀️

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  41. dennyho says:

    Best to you and Helen as you begin this journey. Will look forward to your colorful stories along the way!!!!

    Like

  42. Joe says:

    When you plan something you really go all out Joanne 😀 Make sure to bring plenty of Wheaties “The Breakfast of Champions” with you both on your endeavor. I could see your picture on the Wheaties box now 👍

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  43. …and I’m sure you will tell us all about it. Can’t wait!

    Like

  44. I LOVE this!! (As you know, I’m fond of an audacious goal myself.) Isn’t it actually a good thing that there’s not much of the trail that you have to repeat? It’s all new and exciting territory. Gosh, wish I could do it too! And I’m glad you chose this over the Camino. Every man and his dog seems to be doing that these days. This is a new and epic journey just for the two of you. You both rock!!

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Phil Ryan says:

    Hence the new bike… You’ve clearly thought this through. 🙂 Good luck to you both, you intrepid, inspiring pair 🙂

    Like

  46. DailyMusings says:

    wow how exciting! looking forward to seeing your travels

    Liked by 1 person

  47. The Widow Badass says:

    Excellent!!!! I look forward to reading more and more about this as I live vicariously through you and Helen once again.

    Like

  48. N. N. Light says:

    That’s so exciting! Epic journey, indeed! Have a wonderful time and enjoy the Great Trans-Canada Trail. Here’s hoping the weather cooperates. *fingers crossed*

    Like

  49. THIS IS AWESOME! Happy (and safe) trails. I am so pleased for you.

    Like

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