As promised, it’s time for a discussion on how we are approaching this monster project of travelling the Trans-Canada Trail.
On previous long distance endeavours, Helen and I have always used the 2-car shuttle method of dropping a vehicle at both the beginning and end points. This gave us the obvious advantage of always moving forward and maximizing our time on the trail.
That was fine when we were, at most, within 2-3 hours of home and carrying only hiking gear.
This time however, we are cycling whenever possible, and neither of our cars can accommodate 2 bicycles … a necessity when using the 2-car shuttle method. As a result, we have had to requisition my husband’s vehicle which is the only car we have that can carry both bicycles and all our gear.
There is also the logistical problem that the distances we will eventually be travelling will become very significant. Flights, accommodations, and car rentals will be required. Needing 2 cars would make the cost of this project that much worse.
This is a long way of saying that we abandoned the idea of the 2-car shuttle method at the very beginning of our planning stage. It sounds ugly, but we decided to adopt the out-and-back method. That means for every kilometer we move forward on the trail by foot or bicycle, we’ve actually had to travel two.
We wanted “credit” for that extra mileage though, so we developed the idea of banking the “loopback” kilometers and applying them when needed to any section of the trail we couldn’t complete.
In earlier posts I’ve talked about closed and incomplete sections of the trail. These were relatively large sections of trail that caused us some angst, but there were also other small parts of the trail – 2 km here, 4 km there – that we didn’t finish for a variety of reasons.
We don’t have any intention of ever going back to those bits and pieces for a do-over. As a result, we’ve been applying our banked loopback kilometers to these uncompleted sections.
To keep track of all our mileage I’ve developed a rather complicated spreadsheet. In it I’ve recorded all our forward progress, but also the loopback mileage and whether it’s been applied to an unfinished section.
Our progress to date is 389 completed kilometers by either foot, bicycle, or car … of which 58 kilometers represent loopback I’ve had to apply.
This is what it looks like on the map of southwestern Ontario:
There are 4 distinct areas where we have mileage completed … which brings me to another aspect of our approach.
We have completed almost 390 kms of the Trans-Canada Trail, but not all of it has been completed since we launched this project in March.
Approximately 115 kms of this mileage was completed from walks and bicycle rides prior to starting this goal. In particular this covers all the mileage around Niagara Falls and most of the mileage around Toronto.
These sections of trail had been traveled repeatedly by Helen and I, either together or separately, and we decided that re-doing this mileage just because it was now part of an “official” goal didn’t make sense. So now it’s classified in the *finished* category.
If you’re still with me following this wordy explanation of our approach, thank you. I hope this answers some of the questions many of you have asked.
So far we have restricted all of our efforts to Southwestern Ontario because Helen has commitments this year that makes travelling more difficult for her. Starting next year, we hope to cast our net further abroad to the other provinces on multi-day expeditions on the trail.
It’s going to get a lot more challenging and hopefully a lot more interesting.