Saturday, September 29, 2012. Pine River area. As I was parking my car at our endpoint this morning I met one of the Dufferin section volunteers who told me, “Be forewarned, you’re going to see a lot of hikers today. This is our section’s end-to-end weekend .”
I’ve always been curious about end-to-end weekends advertised on the Bruce Trail website. Last year I was advocating that we join one of them just to get a section done and also to see what it was like. Marian was not particularly enthusiastic so we let it drop, but today I got to satisfy my curiosity with a close-up view as we crossed paths with about 50 hikers heading in the other direction.
Our first encounter was with the hiker in the lead. He was sweating hard, moving at a frantic pace and barely giving himself time to offer a quick hello as we moved aside to let him pass. By the time we met him he was already more than 20km into his hike. He had a strong lead over the next few hikers, who also were clearly striving for speed and were grateful that we stepped off the trail to let them by. Soon we came to a checkpoint station, where volunteers offered fruit, drinks, home-made brownies and encouragement, all of which they were happy to share with us. Over the next hour we encountered many more hikers, with varying degrees of speed and attitude. We found Graham here, the contrarian in the crowd who actually stopped to enjoy the view and even offered to take our pictures. We like your style, Graham!
I would say end-to-end weekends remind me of my experience with marathons last summer. Both have a great element of athleticism, with those who push themselves to achieve a personal best, and those who come (I was one of these last summer) just to see if they could do it, or, in my case, half of it. It’s a good challenge even for the ones who opt for the slower pace — with 55 km in two days, the second day through the Boyne River area with lots of steep climbs, it’s arduous. Yes, I’d say it’s like a marathon, but instead of pounding Toronto asphalt you get to hike through the amazing beauty of the escarpment and Dufferin County in late September. Hmm… not bad.