For over 20 years, this mother-daughter duo has walked the entire Bruce Trail
It has taken a mother-daughter duo from Kingsville, Ont. 20 years to complete a 900 kilometer hike on the Bruce Trail since setting foot on the trail.
Mary Verbeek and her daughter Kristine Verbeek began their hike on September 9, 2001 when Mary was 49 and Kristine 25. The trip started in Niagara and ended in Tobermory, Ontario. September 16, 2021.
Kristine called the bittersweet ending.
“It was 50 percent pride that we finished it, but also 50 percent relief.”
“I am so proud of my mom who keeps in shape and is dedicated to everything. It was no easy task,” said Kristine.
A high school chemistry teacher gave Mary the idea.
She and her daughter had been looking for an activity to bond since Kristine had moved for her career. As they both loved nature, hiking the Bruce Trail became their next adventure.
The duo relied heavily on a map from the Bruce Trail Conservancy. Mary said it was isolated and easy to lose track of. The first treks were day trips.
During one of their hikes further north, they veered off the trail but ended up in waist-deep snow without a clear site on how to return.
“The maps are constantly being revised,” said Mary. “We thought we could get to that place and then get out onto a road, and that had changed. It was just exhausting.”
They were eventually rescued by a trail conservation officer.
How do you do?
Over the years, one of Kristine’s most frequently asked questions has been how do you do it?
What worked for Mary and Kristine was breaking the hike down into 60 trips. They have alternated between driving themselves, taking taxis if needed, staying in Airbnb accommodations, and cycling.
For those who wish to go hiking, Mary stressed the importance of good footwear and foot care.
“Our feet have always been our limiting factor,” she said.
They wore moleskins when their feet got hot with blisters.
“We learned to stretch our feet, put them in cold water as we went, constantly take off your shoes, let your feet breathe,” said Mary.
Overall, through the many challenges that mother and daughter faced, they loved spending time together.
“If we could encourage a person to hike this trail at any age, it would be worth it,” said Kristine.
They’ve already started planning their next big adventure, which could be short weekend bike rides.