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Over 20 years, this mother-daughter duo hiked entire Bruce Trail

A mother and daughter from Kingsville, Ont., have completed the entire Bruce Trail after 20 years of 60 mini-treks and countless experiences in between.

Mary and Kristine Verbeek made 60 trips to get from Niagara to Tobermory in Ontario

Kristine Verbeek, left, and Mary Verbeek completed a 20-year mother-daughter hike of the Bruce Trail on Sept. 16. (Submitted by Kristine Verbeek)

It's taken 20 years for a mother and daughter duo from Kingsville, Ont., to complete a 900-kilometre Bruce Trail hike since first setting foot on the path.

Mary Verbeek and her daughter Kristine Verbeek started their hike on Sept 9, 2001 when Mary was 49 years old and Kristine was 25. The journey began in Niagara and finished in Tobermory, Ont. on Sept. 16, 2021. 

Kristine called the ending bittersweet.

"It was 50 per cent pride that we actually finished it, but also 50 per cent relief." 

"I am so proud of my mom for keeping in shape and for dedicating herself to completing the whole thing. It was not an easy task," Kristine said.

A high school chemistry teacher gave Mary the idea.

Both she and her daughter were looking for an activity to bond over since Kristine had moved away for her career. Since they both enjoyed nature, hiking the Bruce Trail became their next adventure. 

Kristine and Mary say important attention must be paid to feet when on long hikes. (Submitted by Kristine Verbeek)

The duo relied heavily on a map of the Bruce Trail Conservancy. Mary said it was isolated and easy to go the wrong way. The first few treks were day-long excursions. 

During one of their hikes further north, they veered off the trail, but found themselves waist deep in the snow without a clear site on how to get back.  

Kristine poses on one of 60 hikes she and Mary took along the Bruce Trail. (Submitted by Kristine Verbeek)

"The maps are constantly revised," Mary said. "We thought we could make it to this one spot and then exit down a road, and it had changed. It was just exhausting."

They were eventually rescued by a trail conservation officer.

How do you do it?

Over the years, one of the most common question Kristine was asked was how do you do it?

What worked for Mary and Kristine is breaking up the hike into 60 trips. They alternated between driving themselves, taking taxis when necessary, staying in Airbnb accommodations, and riding their bikes. 

Mary and Kristine began their Ontario journey in Niagara and ended in Tobermory. (Submitted by Kristine Verbeek)

For those looking to do the hike, Mary stressed the importance of good footwear and foot care.

"Our feet were always our limiting factor," she said. 

They wore moleskins when their feet became hot with blisters. 

"We learned about stretching our feet, putting them in any cold water as you went along, constantly taking your shoes off, letting your feet air off," Mary said. 

Mary and Kristine chose to hike the Bruce Trail as a bonding experience. (Submitted by Kristine Verbeek)

Overall, through the many challenges mother and daughter faced, they loved having the time together. 

"If we could encourage one person to hike this trail at any age, it would be worthwhile," Kristine said. 

They have already begun to plan their next big adventure, which might be short bike rides on weekends. 

Mary and Kristine pose with their friend Tony on their final day of hiking all 900 km of the Bruce Trail. (Submitted by Kristine Verbeek)

With files by Tony Doucette

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