Monday, November 06, 2006

Hiking the Dream: A Family's Four Month Trek Along the Trans-Canada Trail - Kathy Didkowsky

The Basics: Hiking the Dream: A Family's Four-Month Trek Along the Trans-Canada Trail, Kathy Didkowsky, 2002, 292 pages

How I found it: While in Vancouver, I only had time to browse through the trekking and travel section of my favourite used bookstore, Bibliophile. This is one of three titles I picked up.

What's it aboout?: Kathy Didkowsky is a mother and part of the Nova Scotia Trans-Canada Trail Council. She takes her three kids on a hike across Canada to celebrate the Trans-Canada Trail as a project she calls Hike 2000. There is no fundraising or particular awareness goal and they aren't connected to any organization. Despite what is often written about this journey, they didn't hike all the way across Canada - they hike 20km a day, for 10 days in each province for a total of 2000 kms. As well, they rarely travel on the Trans-Canada Trail because it really doesn't exist yet - it is still in the planning and development stages. The book is written diary style and includes entries from Kathy, her kids, various friends and relatives that they hiked with and the many former railroaders they met while hiking old rail beds that have been turned into trails.

Did I like it?: I really expected to like this book since the idea of walking on trails across Canada seems pretty fun. Boy, I was quite disappointed. Didkowsky is a phys-ed teacher, not a writer and it shows. The journal-style entries from her and others aren't that interesting to read. The book seems to be almost a vanity published book, although I know it isn't. It is more a scrapbook of these peoples journey than a travelogue. I also didn't like the way the hike was organized. The 200km in each province is a bit of a cop-out in my eyes. As well, having no awareness goal or fundraising objective seemed a bit odd since as far as I know this is the first attempt of anyone trying to walk across Canada not on roads. Oh, but wait, they walk on roads quite a bit when they need to make up a few extra kms. That's another thing that bothered me. And for someone who apparently works part-time as a wilderness guide, Didkowsky didn't seem to have done much planning or obtaining of maps of the areas they walked in. I'm sure this was an incredible journey for the family and friends that did it, but as a book, it's really not that compelling and I struggled to finish it.

Will you like it?: Likely not. It is more about the personal lives of the people on the hike than the hike itself. If you are interested in railroads, you might like it however.

But don't take my word for it: Reader reviews from were quite positive, a blurb from Trails Canada, and the website for Spirit Adventures, Didkowsky's guiding company were all I could find.

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