How I Survived My First Two Weeks on the Trans Canada Trail

If you are looking for a challenge that will test your limits, push your boundaries, and transform your life, then you might want to consider walking on the Trans Canada Trail. It is the longest network of recreational trails in the world, spanning over 27,000 km across Canada. It connectsall 13 provinces and territories, from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic oceans. It offers a variety of landscapes, cultures, and activities for hikers, bikers, skiers, paddlers, and horseback riders.

I decided to take on this challenge because I wanted to explore my country and see its beauty with my own eyes. I also wanted to challenge myself physically and mentally, and see how far I can go. I started from Magog, Quebec, on September 1st, 2023, and my goal is to reach St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, by December, 2023 for my “part 1”. That means I have to walk an average of 25 km per day for 72 days.

Sounds crazy, right? Well, maybe it is. But it’s also one of the best decisions I ever made. In this blog post, I will share with you my experience of walking on the Trans Canada Trail for the past two weeks. It has been an amazing journey so far, and I have learned a lot about myself and the round me.

The Good

So far, I have covered about 350 km of the trail, which is about 12.1% of the total distance of “part 1”. I know it sounds like a drop in the ocean, but for me it’s a huge accomplishment. I have walked through forests, mountains, rivers, farms, towns, and cities. I have seen wildlife, historical sites, art installations, and monuments. I have met people from different backgrounds, cultures, and walks of life. Some of them were locals who offered me food, water, or a place to stay. Some of them were fellow travelers who shared their stories and tips with me. And some of them were just curious strangers who wanted to know what I was doing.
One of the most memorable encounters I had was with another thru-hiker who was walking in the opposite direction. They/them (@Bonnbury) were thru-hiking for the last 14 months. The province of Quebec was the last straw. We exchanged some information and advice about the trail and wished each other good luck. It was inspiring to meet someone who was doing the same thing as me but from a different perspective.

Another thing that I love about this journey is how it has changed my mindset and attitude towards life. I feel more confident, resilient, and adaptable. I feel more aware, curious, and appreciative. I feel more at peace with myself and with the world. Walking on the trail has taught me many valuable lessons that I will never forget.
Some of these lessons are:

  • Be grateful for what you have and don’t take anything for granted.
  • Be flexible and open-minded when things don’t go as planned.
  • Be respectful and friendly to everyone you meet along the way.
  • Be optimistic and hopeful even when times are tough.
  • Be adventurous and courageous when facing new challenges.
  • Be humble and honest when admitting your mistakes.
  • Be persistent and determined when pursuing your goals.

These are some of the qualities that I believe are essential for anyone who wants to walk on the Trans Canada Trail or any other long-distance trail in the world. They are also qualities that can help you succeed in any aspect of life.

The Bad

Of course, not everything was smooth sailing on the trail. I also faced some difficulties and challenges along the way. The biggest one was getting dehydrated after walking for several days in hot and dry weather. I didn’t drink the right water and replenish my electrolytes properly. I started feeling dizzy, weak, nauseous and very sick.

Have you ever had a moment when you thought you saw something amazing, but it turned out to be something completely different? Well, I had one of those moments on my hike. It was a night that I will never forget, for better or for worse.

It happened when I was camping in a farmland near Richmond City. I had a terrible case of diarrhea and I had to get out of the tent very quickly, so I decided to go next to the fence that surrounded the field. I thought that if it stank, people would blame the cows!

It was a dark and foggy night, and I could barely see anything. Butt naked I headed towards the fence. As I was walking, I saw a flash of light in front of me. It looked like a firefly. I love fireflies. They are so beautiful and magical. They make me feel happy and calm.

I wanted to catch the firefly after my business and see it up close. I reached out my hand and touched the fence to steady myself. And then, surprise! There was another flash of light. It was not a firefly. It was a spark. I didn’t want to get electrocuted while I was having diarrhea. That would be a sad and embarrassing way to die. I let go of the fence and I questioned my life at that moment.

I had to stop walking and call my mom and sister for help the morning after. My mother came to pick me up and took me back home for a few days to recover. They were very supportive and understanding of my adventure, but they also reminded me to take care of myself better.

I’m grateful that they were there for me when I needed them most. After resting and rehydrating at home, I felt much better and was ready to resume my journey where I left off on the trail and continued walking from there. I learned my lesson and made sure to drink more water, carry more water purification tablets with me and Imodium.

Another challenge that I’m still working on is dealing with condensation in my tent in the morning. This is a common problem for many campers, especially in humid or cold conditions. Condensation happens when warm air inside the tent meets the cold surface of the rainfly or the ground. The water vapor in the air turns into liquid droplets that can make your tent wet and uncomfortable.
I have tried some tips and tricks that can help prevent or reduce condensation in your tent, such as:

  • Picking a suitable location for setting up your tent, preferably under trees or away from water sources that can increase humidity.
  • Setting up your rainfly fully and staking it out tautly to create a gap between it and the tent wall.
  • Maximizing the ventilation of your tent by opening all doors, windows, and vents, especially on opposite sides to create cross ventilation.
  • Minimizing the sources of moisture in your tent by removing wet clothes, shoes, gear from inside. Storing them in dry bags or hanging them outside to dry.
  • Never cooking inside the tent, as this will create a lot of steam and heat that will condense on the tent surface.
  • Wiping down the tent and shaking off water frequently to prevent it from dripping or freezing on the tent fabric.

Some of these tips have helped me a bit, but I’m still not an expert on condensation. I’m still learning and experimenting with different methods and solutions. If you have any suggestions or experiences on this topic, please let me know in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

The Next

Despite these challenges, I’m still enjoying my journey on the Trans Canada Trail. I’m looking forward to seeing more of this beautiful country and sharing more of my stories with you. Thank you for following my adventure and supporting me along the way. You are all part of this journey with me.

Until then, happy trails!
Dave Gunther.

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Comments 8

  • Julie : Sep 18th

    Oooh, I was already enticed by the Trans Canada, and now I’m even more enticed. I love the way you write about your internal experiences and changes. I’m looking forward to reading more.

    • Dave Gunther : Sep 21st

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about my journey across the Trans Canada. It was a life-changing experience for me and I’m happy to share it with you. I appreciate your interest and support. Stay tuned for more updates! 😊

  • Vrooom : Sep 19th

    Condensation is weird, I have tents that suffer from it and those that don’t. Ventilation appears to be the culprit for me, or lack thereof. Enjoyed reading your blog, hate to say I’m a Canadian hiker who didn’t know there was a trans-Canada trail. Keep it up!

    • Dave Gunthet : Sep 21st

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed reading my blog. Condensation can be a tricky issue for tents, especially in humid or cold environments. You’re right that ventilation is important to reduce it, but there are other factors as well, such as the type of fabric, the shape of the tent, and the amount of moisture inside.

      The Trans Canada Trail is a wonderful network of trails that spans the country, connecting various regions and communities. It’s not very well-known, even among Canadians, but it’s definitely worth exploring. I hope you get a chance to experience it someday.

      Thanks for following my adventure! 😊

  • Pierre : Sep 21st

    Félicitation David!!! Ta plume est bien aiguisée et tes chaussures bien lassées. Un grand voyage commence par un petit pas et ce petit pas… il est fait! Moi et Lena sommes content de pouvoir suivre tes aventures. À+

    • Dave Gunther : Sep 22nd

      Mes amis. Vous faite mon bonheur. En passant devant l’île d’Orléans j’ai évidemment penser à Félix Leclerc, Moi Mes Souliers et votre amitié sincère. J’ai hâte de vous revoir. A bientôt.

  • Melanie : Sep 23rd

    I hiked some of the Appalachian Trail last year… take a bag of baking soda with you. It absorbs moisture!!!!! It’sa lifesaver!! Happy trails😀

    • Dave Gunther : Sep 24th

      Wow, that’s a great tip. I didn’t know baking soda had so many benefits for hikers. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. I will definitely pack some baking soda for my next adventure. Happy trails to you too😀

      Keeping your feet dry and preventing blisters.
      Cleaning your dishes and utensils.
      Freshening your breath and teeth.
      Deodorizing your clothes and gear.
      Relieving insect bites and sunburns.

      I can definitely use a bag of baking soda in my sleeping bag at night. Wow. 🙏💜


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