Big news! My mom and I are officially doing a Bruce Trail end-to-end in summer 2022!
Some of you likely knew that this was an adventure we were dreaming about, but what you may not have known is that I’ve been trying to access arts funding to make it a reality. After a failed attempt last year, I was feeling like my second grant application was a total moon-shot. I actually applied for about nine different arts opportunities at the end of last year, fully expecting an onslaught of rejection, and for some time it was that. I didn’t get the local residency, or the national mentorship, or the bigger theatre workshop grant, or several of the small theatre grants I applied for (though eventually one of those was approved, and honestly I would have been pretty content with just having one small win). But then yesterday morning I got a notification for the grant I honestly thought I was LEAST likely to actually get. It was APPROVED! And even more shocking, it was FULLY FUNDED!
I want to express my immense gratitude to the Canada Council for the Arts for supporting me in this endeavour in #BringingTheArtsToLife.
For any artists out there reading this, the moral of the story of course is not to give up on your projects if you don’t get funding right away. Persistence does pay off sometimes. I changed my application a bit, adjusted my budget, and resubmitted what was in essence the exact same concept. So now we’re doing the Bruce Trail, and I’m writing a book!
What’s the book going to be about?
The book, which I’ve titled Caprock Poems, will be a feminist collection of poetry about my relationship with my mother, explored through the lens of the Bruce Trail’s landscape, and accompanied by photography and prose.
I will also be maintaining a social media presence here on the blog, and on my @elisha.hikes Instagram account where I will be sharing our experiences, and playing with mixing video footage and poems.
What’s the Bruce Trail?
For those who don’t know about the Bruce Trail, it is Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath, running 900km through Ontario from Niagara to Tobermory and following the Niagara Escarpment.
The Niagara Escarpment, a VERY long cliff, was created from unequal erosion. It’s the caprock, dolostone, that is resistant to erosion and remains as vertical faces of exposed rock. The caprock protects more easily eroded shale beneath. – The idea of erosion will come into play as a theme of the book, hence the title Caprock Poems.
The Bruce Trail reports that they have issued over 4000 official end-to-end certificates, but many of these have been accomplished as section hikes over long periods of time. To put that 4000 in perspective, that is about the same amount of end-to-ends as there have been successful summits of Mount Everest. Sadly, the Conservancy does not track thru-hikes separately, so it is hard to say how many people have accomplished that particular feat.
The tricky thing with a Bruce Trail thru-hike is that it is illegal to camp through most of the trail. This stems from the remarkable fact that a huge portion of the land the trail passes through is owned by private landowners who have graciously agreed to allow use of their properties.
The other tricky piece for my mom and me is that I don’t drive, so we will be doing the trail with only one vehicle, and relying on trail angels for rides. Every morning we will park the van where we intend to end for the day, and then we will get a lift to where we left off the previous day. That way we are always walking towards our van.
I’ve already been offered several places to stay, as well as rides in certain sections, so I think the enormous task of organizing this each day will actually come together fairly easily, while simultaneously restoring my faith in humanity. Mom has wisely suggested that I start a spreadsheet organized by trail sections, so please get in touch if you’d like to be a part of our trail angel network.
How can you help?
Although rides and places to park or camp will be our number one needs from the community, there are lots of other ways you can support this project as well.
Specifically, I want your feedback before we get started! What are you most interested in hearing about? I’ll be creating a TON of content while we hike, and I want to make sure it’s what my friends and followers want to see.
I have a lot of ideas already, like highlighting the local flora, fauna, and geology as we go, as well as Indigenous landmarks, tourist spots we enjoy, historical plaques, people we meet (trail angels especially!), gear we’re using, food we’re eating, and more!
But I’m sure there are plenty of great ideas out there I haven’t thought of as well. Please share what you’d like to see by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part of the project will also be getting to know my mom better. We are VERY close, but there’s a lot about her youth, for instance, that I don’t know. What questions should I ask her? Is there something you wish you knew about your parents that you never felt you could ask? I’ll be writing a list of interview questions to pepper throughout our journey (when I’m not too out of breath to ask), and would love ideas on that front as well.
You all helped me develop my (very detailed!) trackers for my Western Uplands journey last year, and I’m hoping I can get that same kind of feedback for this project as well.
I so appreciate you taking the time to read about our big adventure, and hope you’ll reach out with any and all ideas! We can’t wait to get started.
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.