Hiking 890km: My Dad’s idea of fun!

In just a few days, my Dad is heading out on a solo-hike. He is aiming to cover the 890km in 40+ days… which means walking 22km/day while carrying a 60L pack full of food, water, clothes and a hammock to sleep in. The weather will be down to freezing some nights at the start, even though he is starting in the warm southern end of Ontario, and he’s hoping to miss the worst of the spring mosquitos as he walks north!

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(This is Dad posing for blog pics in a yet-to-be-blogged Jalie fleece hoodie that I made him for the hike!) 
In his words,

“My name is Mark Whitcombe, and I’m a 65 year old retired outdoor education teacher. I’ve spent many summers canoeing, both as a guide together with my wife, and with my family. I’m quite familiar with the landscape and ecology of Southern Ontario, though much of the Bruce Trail will be excitingly new to me. I’m a botanist and general naturalist — which leads me to my goal of tracing Spring northwards.”

For those of you who aren’t from Southern Ontario, the Bruce Trail follows the Niagara Escarpment (a rocky shelf of cliffs, in very untechnical terms). It’s a UNESCO biosphere reserve, and Dad is planning on contributing to botanical citizen research projects about pollen and and what’s in bloom during the hike.

I’m incredibly proud. He’s been planning, researching, and training for months, and while I find the whole thing a bit terrifying, I know that he is very well prepared! Dad sets off on May 3rd, so if you want to follow his progress or wish him luck, you can read his blog at Tracing Spring Northward, or follow him on Twitter as @brucetraillium .

Go cheer him on online, or wish him luck in the comments below! And I’d love to know if the idea of a epic hike appeals to you personally, or if, like me, it sounds like the last thing you’d willingly do?


31 thoughts on “Hiking 890km: My Dad’s idea of fun!

  1. I’d love to do one of those tours where you hike during the day, then sleep in a posh hotel at night–not so much into carrying everything or sleeping outside night after night!

    My partner does these sorts of epic distances on his bike, though; he’s out today on a 400km ride that will take about 24 hours. Next weekend it’s 600km. The longest he’s done is 1400km in 4 days–London to Edinburgh and back. Seems nutty to me, but he says he just likes to ride his bike. 😛

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  2. It sounds amazing! And yes, I would like to do something like that. When me and my sister were kids we went on a summer camp two years in a row where for one week we went backpacking into the John Muir wilderness, there were only 12-15 of us, that has been something I’ve always remembered and would love to do again, but I am so out of shape these days. Good luck to your dad!

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  3. Brilliant Bruce!! All the very best – I think you should do one on every continent 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼. (We also do a lot of hiking and biking and camping though I currently have a hip injury that is taking FOREVER to heal….)

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  4. I am SO impressed – in just about every way possible. My mother and sister walked the Camino (France/Spain) and it was a journey of endurance, in every way. And they weren’t camping. And it was warm. I’m giving you all kinds of great weather vibes, Mark!

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  5. Go Mark!! Totally cool!! Hiking in the Sudbury area is great stuff, too! And I have sights set for things like The West Highland Way, the 4 day walk and the 11 city walk in the Netherlands. Someday. It’s all about the retirement vision.

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  6. Congratulations to both of you! For his brave trek through Ontario’s wild country (I know the Bruce well being originally from KW area) and to you for the beautiful hoodie you made him! Perfect in every way – that nice bright red will make him easy to identify and great coverage🙂

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  7. Wow, what a trip! I admire the hiking outdoorsy type, but it is certainly not my thing! A local guy hiked the entire Appalachian Trail (took 6 months!) and I listeded to a talk he gave at my kids’ school about the experience. Such an adventure. Good luck to your dad!

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  8. Really am the last person to be outdoorsy (not toilets, showers or comfy beds) but kudos to your dad for doing something so challenging and worthwhile. What an adventure. So huge good luck, Mr Whitcombe and looking forward to hearing about how you are getting on. Xx

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  9. Good luck to your dad. What an awesome adventure. My knees won’t stand up to so much hiking but I’ve done a bit of bike touring and would love to do more. There is something really special about an outdoor adventure.

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  10. What a great use of his years of knowledge and experience. He must be so excited. His hoodie looks warm and lightweight. Personally, I prefer day hikes because I like all of my creature comforts for sleeping.

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  11. Good luck to your dad – what an adventure. I studied botany and have worked as an ecologist until recently so I can appreciate his excitement at watching spring unfold. I’m following his blog

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  12. Oh my goodness, this is the coolest freaking thing ever! Your dad is sooo cool! This is the type of thing that I always think about doing, but then completely chicken out of! Definitely following his blog! You must be really proud!

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  13. This is so cool! Congrats and good luck to your pop!!! I would LOVE to do something like this! I’m desperate to do a long hike like this… would love to do the Pacific Crest trail, or the Camino in Spain, or the West Highland Way. Also really want to do a long canoe trip. Your dad is my hero!

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  14. How cool! And what a good daughter you are sending him off in handmade gear. I’m good for day hikes, but living in CO is generally lost on this homebody. My motto is, “No water? No way.” But I admire your Dad for putting in so much effort into taking in the splendor of the outdoors. I hope he has a safe adventure!

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  15. what a great adventure! hiking solo is exhilarating and so peaceful. i hope he catches the trilliums! we live in tobermory, so you can consider us his northern trail-crew if needed🙂

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  16. How wonderful for him!! That’s definitely the last thing I would want to do! Day hikes only for this girl. There is a long remote hike at the far most northwest end of California that I’ve always been interested in as we like to camp on the coast up there (Lost Coast Trail). But it’s a bit too rugged and long for me. It would be extremely beautiful and its not often hiked as its far away from people, but the scenery would probably be worth it. But still, not for me!

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  17. Wow! What an amazing adventure to embark on! I would personally love to do this but would find the solo part a bit too lonely (and scary) for me. Best wishes for safe travels, dry feet, gorgeous scenery and personal fulfillment!

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  18. Hi
    Did your Dad teach at Overlea Secondary High School (now has another name) in Toronto in the 1970’s?? I think he was my grade 11 biology teacher! If so I am kind of freaking out!

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