Matt and Stephanie Beach, who, along with their adorable dog, Toby, became the first hikers to earn the new TBTC Winter Badge, had no idea how historic their achievement was when they sent in their logs. It was a fluke, they told me when I contacted them.
Stephanie says she’d made a January 2020 resolution to do more hiking. But then the pandemic hit, and things got delayed. In November she turned to Matt and said, “Let’s just do it.” Which is exactly what they did. They laced on their hiking boots and headed for the trail at Queenston Heights. They earned their Niagara badges on December 11.
They decided to tackle the Toronto section next. They’d done enough research to know the club offered a beautiful winter badge (I love the colour blue, says Stephanie) so they started our section on December 21. They finished it on December 24, and applied for their badges. And that’s the story of how they entered our Club’s history book, so to speak.
The couple’s enthusiasm about hiking the trail shone through in the conversation I had with them on Zoom. Stephanie has already created books about their hikes in each of the sections they completed, with stories and photos and maps. They told me they were surprised to see how well the trail is marked, and are grateful for all the bridges and boardwalks, especially in the Toronto Section (thank you, Trail Maintenance volunteers!). Their favourite spot in our section? The Hole in the Wall at Limehouse.
What advice do they have for others who are considering an End-to-End? Some of it is practical – use poles, wear layers, use cleats (icers) in winter. Also, knee braces help a lot with all those downhills, and Uber is great for dealing with logistics near urban areas. But their main advice? Anybody can hike. Don’t procrastinate, just do it!