We’ve made it to Ontario! We are sitting in a gorgeous B&B in Kenora as we write this, thanks once again to some incredible charity. We’ve had a good look at our Ontario maps, and after a great deal of back-and-forth, we’ve come up with a plan to navigate the longest province. Our plan is unconventional enough that we want to share it here to keep everyone in the loop.
Our biggest problem is Highway 17: it is the only road that goes through Northwestern Ontario and into Manitoba, which means it is very busy with semi trucks and all sorts of other vehicles. It is also only 2 lanes wide and very winding. In short, we really don’t feel safe walking along the highway, which we had to do to get into Ontario. We also frequent the back country of Northern Ontario, and know the terrain and the area very well, so we don’t really get to see new places by taking this route. Because of this, we’ve finally decided to do something seemingly quite contrary to the spirit of Ramble Canada: hundreds of kilometers of hitchhiking. *dun dun duuunn!!*
Our plan is to hitchhike all along Highway 17 in order to get to different National and Provincial Parks, and to make up the distance we hitch by hiking the trails of Ontario Parks we haven’t been to yet. So far, our Ontario itinerary includes Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Pukaskwa National Park, Lake Superior Provincial Park, the entire Bruce Trail (Tobermory to Queenston) & Rideau Trail (Kingston to Ottawa). We’ve also already picked up a few “must see” day-hikes that we wouldn’t have been able to walk to, but can now visit. The length of all these trails combined makes up the distance from Kenora to Ottawa along Highways 17 & 11.
The true spirit of Ramble Canada is to explore and try things we’ve never done before. This plan allows us to keep the spirit of the trip alive by substituting a section of the walk that is familiar and unsafe with areas that we have always wanted to explore, but haven’t had the chance to yet. As one of our favourite mottos goes: now is the time! We will return to our regularly-scheduled programming once we reach the Eastern side of Ontario.
Although it feels strange to say we will be hitchhiking much of Ontario, we are relieved to have found a way to avoid the major highways while still maintaining the integrity and spirit of Ramble Canada. We are very excited to explore new areas that have been on our “to-do” list for years, and to be able to do them all back-to-back! We are ready to strap on our serious hiking boots and undertake a rapid-fire succession of some of the toughest and most exhilarating trails in Ontario, and even all of Canada!