Windsor

'Unrelenting the whole way,' Essex man hikes entire Bruce Trail in 12 days

It was a long two weeks for Jamieson Hatt from McGregor, Ont., who trekked the Bruce Trail starting from Tobermory.

Jamieson Hatt, 38 from McGregor, Ont., set an unofficial record of being the 4th fastest

Windsor man Jamieson Hatt took 12 days and a little more to finish hiking the Bruce Trail from start to finish. (Barb Campbell/Jamieson & The Bruce)

A sprained ankle, some blisters and 12 showerless days later, Jamieson Hatt made it to the Queenston end of the Bruce Trail.

"I guess I smelled pretty bad," Hatt laughed as he recalled his journey traversing the entire length of the trail starting at Tobermory on Sept. 11.

According to a website that keeps record of the fastest known times, the 38-year-old McGregor man would have made it as the 4th fastest man to traverse the trail — in 12 days, 14 hours and 52 minutes. The fastest known record is nine days, 21 hours and 14 minutes, by Adam Burnett.

Even though he's an avid runner, experienced with 100-mile races and has spent almost a year preparing for this lengthy hike, Hatt said at times he was "death marching" on the Bruce. His journey was 906-kilometres long.

The terrain was rocky at some sections and he couldn't run for those. Some days he put in about 64 kilometres before he called it a night.

"It's kind of unrelenting the whole way," said Hatt. "There were a lot of times when it broke me."

Casey Thivierge was one of Hatt's friends who frequently accompanied him in sections and also updated the Facebook group on Hatt's progress. (Casey Thivierge/Jamieson & The Bruce)

The crew

Hatt's parents were on the journey as much as Hatt.

They were his crew — something he said you need if you're doing this type of a hike — and they made sure Hatt was fed along the way and had a safe place to spend the night.

But what surprised him was the number of strangers who came out to support him.

Hatt had a tracker on him and he also frequently updated on his whereabouts in a Facebook group. There were people who heard about his trip and came out at certain sections to either keep him company or help him get through a difficult spot, including Burnett who had set the record.

"I'm just so grateful for the help I got," Hatt said. "It really blows my mind."

Moments to remember

One early morning when he was munching on an energy bar, Hatt noticed a pair of eyes charging at him. It was a fox.

"Once I yelled at it, it just kind of bee-lined into the bush. But I was looking over my shoulder a few times after that," he recalled.

Hatt's friends would come out to do certain sections of the hikes or runs with him on the trail. (Courtesy of Casey Thivierge)

Then another night when he was going through a part of the trail closer to civilization and saw a homeowner having a dinner party, he remembers thinking "wow, they're smart," to be at home instead of doing what he was doing.

And then there were times when he got so little sleep he felt his body shutting down.

While Hatt isn't shutting down possibilities of doing the trek again, right now he's just focused on resting and healing.

"It's been a crazy couple of weeks," said Hatt.

"I refuse to wear socks right now. I just want my poor feet to get as much air as possible."

Corrections

  • The previous version of the story said some days Jamieson Hatt put in 40 kilometres, but it was actually around 64 kilometres as Hatt was using miles.
    Sep 25, 2018 9:51 AM ET

With files from Dale Molnar

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