Ramble ON!! – A change of pace

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!

Ramble ON!

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14 thoughts on “Ramble ON!! – A change of pace

  1. Having hitchhiked through parts of Ontario 40 years ago and also driven through parts of it a few years later I think you have made a wise decision to avoid walking the highway..

    • Thanks, Ursula! It was definitely a strange experience to hitchhike on this walk across Canada, but we found it all to be worth it once we got to experience a bunch of parks we’d never seen before. Such beautiful scenery along Lake Superior! We feel very luck to have gotten to experience it on this trip.

  2. Is so good to hear you are safe and sound in Ontario. We think you are wise to hitchhike…I personally don’t like driving that highway let alone walk it.Gods speed in the next leg of your journey. Keep safe.

    • Thanks for your well-wishes! We are past the worst of the highways and will be walking down the Bruce Trail soon- and we found hitchhiking between the parks’ hiking trails to be a great alternative to walking the highway.

  3. I was under the impression that your original intention was to walk the Trans-Canada Trail, am I wrong? I never read even one report of you in BC, were there any? I am beginning to lose faith in you and in your walk, I am not trying to be “mean” but this walk brings with it modifications on nearly every report.

    • Hi Beverley! Thanks for following along. If you read on the main page, we are “mostly” following the TCT; it’s not entirely complete yet, and the section through Northern Ontario is only a water trail. As much as we wish it were real, there’s no walking trail through there. Part of the reason we enjoy the trip so much is because we are able to change our plans as we need to- fixing the safety issue of walking down Highway 17 in Ontario, for instance.
      Canada is huge, and although we wish we could see everything in the country all at once, it is not something we can accomplish on foot… we’re amassing a list of things to see as we cross the country faster than we can strike things off! BC is definitely on the list to explore more, as are the Northern parts of Manitoba & Saskatchewan, more of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut (which we aren’t getting to see at all), and we’re sure much of Quebec and the Maritimes too, as we go through there.
      We’re sorry to hear you’re disappointed by all the modifications to the trip, but we didn’t have too much of a plan to start with, and it’s very hard to plan every step of this huge journey before-hand! We try to take it day-by-day, and this gives us more of a chance to see things we would never have seen at all had we stuck strictly to any plans we had made (the entire area around Prince George, the Qu’Apelle valley, and Ontario’s parks to name a few).
      Sorry you’re loosing faith, but of course not every journey suits everyone’s style. There are a few other folks I’ve read about who have traveled the country in a similar capacity, perhaps one of their stories is more up your alley. I can point you toward them if you like. This is the style that suits us best, and we figured we’d share it for those who don’t have the opportunity to see much of this beautiful country at all. 🙂

  4. Sarah and Dan, Good to see your comments. When you mention Pukaskwa National Park I have been there a couple of times-interesting scenery along the Lake Superior coastal area, however, choose an open campsite over one that is too shaded as it is a fertile area for black flies. There are some interesting petroglyphs within Lake Superior Provincial Park further east which are just above the water line. Look for written guide pamphlets about this. Ross Leckie

  5. Hi, Ramblers!

    Travel (n) : the art of studying maps and timetables and calendars, and making careful plans, and then observing how those plans actually play themselves out.

    I’m sure there will be a lot more “Ramble” and a lot more “Canada” in the fresh tree air of the Ontario Parks, rather than in the exhaust particulates along a noisy and busy highway.

    Enjoy the awesome wilderness! Ramble On!

    Joseph, in Ireland

    • Thanks, Joseph! We had a blast rambling Canada in the parks… It was just beautiful and we got to see a lot of new things compared to highway 17, which we’ve seen several times. Thanks for your words of encouragement! It’s always a treat to see your comments when we have the chance to check the blog.

  6. Pingback: Journal Entry – May 5 to May 17 | Ramble Canada

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