VIA tracks Ontario, friends are Bailing on me! (1 Viewer)

PaytRacc oon

Lurker
Joined
Dec 29, 2019
Messages
5
Location
Ottawa Canada
This is More of a Not-Traveling-at-All story about me failing a low-stakes trip with my friends, but here goes.

I've been feeling like a layabout being trapped in my parents' place during Covid 19 and I thought I'd try to get out of the house. I had to return from traveling in Mexico when the Pandemic began, but as Ontario just started lifting regulations, I thought I'd better at least capitalize on the stealth camping opportunities here while this area is still partly shut down.

I got two friends (I'm calling them Fox and Toad after their favourite animals) excited about just packing up and walking straight down the rail lines leading out of Ottawa, doing a big loop, and coming back in maybe 5 days. I did some research, planned out a map, whatever.
This seemed like a pretty low-intensity trip to me, I know surveillance can be high on these lines but really couldn't find a lot of information on it so I thought the best way to learn is just to go.

The Plan: Stealth camp in Hammocks in the woods along the tracks, and eat all this great cold-soak food that Fox made.
On foot; Start in Ottawa, go East on VIA, drop South to the CN lines, then West, then North on the North Grenville Rail Trail.
98323363_260881131818389_7405009465004523520_n-jpg.55663


Somehow Fox, and especially Toad didn't really know what they were getting into, because Toad started to give up right away. We had to walk around through the bushes and some wet forests to avoid a worker in a rail truck, and I guess somehow Toad wasn't expecting to do this kind of thing. Apparently her feet get raw and rashy really fast after they get wet, and she didn't anticipate them getting wet. So right from the beginning she got spooked by the Foamer, and then didn't like being off-path. I think 2 hours in she started to think about going home.

Fox had more realistic expectations, but was really frustrated about not finding good water sources and making less ground than we wanted (this was mostly because I started getting mega blisters right away. My socks and shoes arent new, so I guess I got them from having a heavy bag).

We started at 10:00 am, my feet began to get fucked up at 1030, we get spotted (but not bothered) by the foamer in a Rail Truck at 1300, avoided him on roads and in the bush till 1830, and then not even 8 hours after we started Toad called her parents to pick her up. After we waited with her, Fox tried to make camp with me but started giving up and also called a ride to leave.

At this point it was too dark to stealthily make a good camp, I could barely walk, and I was carrying extra weight for a group I was no longer with. So I took the ride of shame ride back with Fox too. (I super regret this but man that extra large bag was a weight & eye-catcher that I did not need)

Now I'm repacking just my stuff to head out again, but I'm just sitting here thinking that this trip was so embarrassingly tame that man, how do I make some more adventurous friends!
If you're in Ontario/Quebec and wanna hang out, hit me up.

Hopefully I'll have stuff to say that isnt just for the Ottawa niche in the future, lol. Didn't figure this was really worth posting, but I've gotta put myself out there somehow :p

Also, here is a recap I did for my own future reference:
screenshot-194-png.55662
 
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LuckyMinnie

Rambler
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
56
Location
El Paso, TX
This is More of a Not-Traveling-at-All story about me failing a low-stakes trip with my friends, but here goes.

I've been feeling like a layabout being trapped in my parents' place during Covid 19 and I thought I'd try to get out of the house. I had to return from traveling in Mexico when the Pandemic began, but as Ontario just started lifting regulations, I thought I'd better at least capitalize on the stealth camping opportunities here while this area is still partly shut down.

I got two friends (I'm calling them Fox and Toad after their favourite animals) excited about just packing up and walking straight down the rail lines leading out of Ottawa, doing a big loop, and coming back in maybe 5 days. I did some research, planned out a map, whatever.
This seemed like a pretty low-intensity trip to me, I know surveillance can be high on these lines but really couldn't find a lot of information on it so I thought the best way to learn is just to go.

The Plan: Stealth camp in Hammocks in the woods along the tracks, and eat all this great cold-soak food that Fox made.
On foot; Start in Ottawa, go East on VIA, drop South to the CN lines, then West, then North on the North Grenville Rail Trail.
View attachment 55663

Somehow Fox, and especially Toad didn't really know what they were getting into, because Toad started to give up right away. We had to walk around through the bushes and some wet forests to avoid a worker in a rail truck, and I guess somehow Toad wasn't expecting to do this kind of thing. Apparently her feet get raw and rashy really fast after they get wet, and she didn't anticipate them getting wet. So right from the beginning she got spooked by the Foamer, and then didn't like being off-path. I think 2 hours in she started to think about going home.

Fox had more realistic expectations, but was really frustrated about not finding good water sources and making less ground than we wanted (this was mostly because I started getting mega blisters right away. My socks and shoes arent new, so I guess I got them from having a heavy bag).

We started at 10:00 am, my feet began to get fucked up at 1030, we get spotted (but not bothered) by the foamer in a Rail Truck at 1300, avoided him on roads and in the bush till 1830, and then not even 8 hours after we started Toad called her parents to pick her up. After we waited with her, Fox tried to make camp with me but started giving up and also called a ride to leave.

At this point it was too dark to stealthily make a good camp, I could barely walk, and I was carrying extra weight for a group I was no longer with. So I took the ride of shame ride back with Fox too. (I super regret this but man that extra large bag was a weight & eye-catcher that I did not need)

Now I'm repacking just my stuff to head out again, but I'm just sitting here thinking that this trip was so embarrassingly tame that man, how do I make some more adventurous friends!
If you're in Ontario/Quebec and wanna hang out, hit me up.

Hopefully I'll have stuff to say that isnt just for the Ottawa niche in the future, lol. Didn't figure this was really worth posting, but I've gotta put myself out there somehow :p

Also, here is a recap I did for my own future reference:
View attachment 55662
Everyday something new to learn. Maybe you'll have better adventures later.
 

Tekamthi

Newbie
Joined
Sep 18, 2018
Messages
10
Location
Great Lakes
i used to have problems with my feet getting blisters, was always the worst amongst those i'd travel with. But no longer... i think this is the number one gear focus for enjoyable travel.

Everyone has their own system, but here's mine. Somehow, get a pair of toe-socks -- injinji used to sell them here in Canada, but seem to have retreated from the market over the past year. There are others though, if you're willing to scour outdoor stores or can stick in one place long enough for an amazon order to arrive (these are expensive socks, but still just socks... if you don't have an extra $20 to drop on gear I'd just find some local adventures to enjoy instead). Wear your normal sock on top of these (ie 2 socks per foot always) at all times when travelling around with your pack on your back. Also, make sure you have no cotton or other water-retaining materials on your feet (I prefer a wool outer sock and synthetic inner, mainly cuz I couldn't find anything other than synthetic for the base layer).

Next, ditch the conventional boomer wisdom of hiking boots with major ankle support etc., if you have 'em -- instead, find the lightest weight, most breathable shoes possible. Don't get anything "waterproof" as these are made for avoiding small puddles and not the swampy bogs you're gonna encounter when forced off-trail as you were. Even the strongest safety-boots are not gonna save your feet from any rail line related injuries anyway -- thats what your brain is for. You wanna minimize the forces applied to your skin by your shoes in any case, and ensure they don't trap water against your skin. Winter time is another story, but probably not relevant here...

I found a pair of reebok "crossfit" shoes in a payless clearance bin a few years ago that are designed for doing silly workouts like flipping old monster truck tires in industrial yards (judging by the adverts). The tires can flip themselves for all I care, but these shoes are great for scaling fences and kicking through jagged rail ballast. They weigh next to nothing, and the uppers are entirely an open mesh with bits of rubberized leather and some kind of balistics-vest-looking material in key parts to hold them together. My feet get wet with the slightest bit of water around, but dry out just as quickly. I just finished doing the "prescott-russell" from Ottawa to Vankleek Hill entirely on foot (~150km round trip) and spent a good 30-40 of these with my feet soaking wet, but didn't get one blister the whole time. After walking/hopping me across canada a few times, the soles are just about finished now, and I'm reluctantly looking to bid these ones farewell soon, assuming I can find a worthy and affordable replacement.

Anyway, it seems unclear reading whether your plans were really just to hike the rail lines? Forgive my assumptions if they were. In any case, your travel partners don't sound like they have the necessary psychological toughness required to have fun hopping trains, if thats what you were after -- 24 hours+ in one location is often required to scout a new location for catch out, in my relatively cautious experience. Rushing things will mean you get caught by LEO, or worse, and I doubt they'll care if your plan was just to walk around if they catch you

Finally, I think you'll need to develop the skills for setting up your camp in the dark if you plan to travel any serious distance and camp in spots you're not supposed to -- really, just a bivvy, sleeping pad, and appropriately warm sleeping bag are all thats requried to get a comfy stealth camp going, and this can be setup anywhere in just about any conditions. Bring a small tarp too and you're golden. Hammocks have never worked well for me in this context -- they seem better suited to camping in the backyard or at campgrounds, though maybe I just haven't figured out the requisite skills.

Good luck, and thanks for posting an interesting if unsuccessful story! I may investigate your route sometime in the next month, as I'm currenly stuck in the same colonial backwater without much to do. FWIW, the prescott russell trail is an old rail line, and runs not far from where you hiked around, and is completely open to hikers without having to sneak by any officials.
 
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