Originally appeared on The Trek


The global pandemic hasn’t only forced the closure of the Appalachian Trail, effectively to all non-Americans, it also means the USA is closed too!

My Canadian feelings aren’t hurt in any way whatsoever. Frankly, the border closures are a prudent medical necessity, plus we in Canada have also closed our borders to Americans. It is what it is! So what next?

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It was devastating when my Appalachian Trail dreams died. Many years of pining and planning crashed hard and fast! Yes, they are completely dead for this year, and likely also next year for non-Americans. So my best option to scratch my hikin’ itch appears to be within my own country’s borders. Yet there are still some issues.

Firstly, the Canadian hiking season is smaller, with shorter summers and longer winters. But not a deal-breaker. Secondly, we have only a few long-distance thru-hikes with the infrastructure for a “proper” thru-hike. Most of our long trails are designed for section hiking, with few to no camping locations. Finally, the global pandemic has forced our provincial, territorial, and national parks to remain closed or restrict access and services.

So what is still available? Frankly nothing… sort of. 

Dudley during pandemic
Hiking during the pandemic has many challenges… mostly where?

In Ontario, between Ottawa and Kingston, is the Rideau Trail. It is designed for section hiking with no camping options. But it can be thru-hiked if you are legal, respectful, and stealthy! The bulk of the trail remains open, however, much of the trail passes through government parklands that currently have pandemic-related restrictions and prohibitions. The good news is the Ontario Parks are now toying with opening their parks for “walk through” only… when this happens we will have a trail!  So we are now waiting with eager yet optimistic anticipation!

I’m not new to the Rideau Trail. I thru-hiked her in 2012 and called it my OktoberQuest.  So as soon as we get the green light from our governments – and we expect that soon – I will be hiking the complete Rideau Trail again, and this time with my good friend Chris Abbott. We hope to make it extra special by hiking it both ways in one go. To my knowledge, it will be the FIRST recorded yo-yo. If all goes as planned, it will take us 25-30 days to hike all 650 km. 

Apart from the appropriate social distancing required, stealth camping will be our biggest challenge. So to maintain true stealth, we will not be releasing timely videos nor posting via Instagram and FB. When the hike is over, we hope to share our edited video log of the complete adventure!

Goodbye to my Appalachian dreams, and hello to the Rideau Trail yo-yo!

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Hike on, stay apart and be safe. Dudley out!

Rideau Trail
The Rideau Trail is no AT … but charming and more important… available!
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