By Ahmed Ibrahim
TCT staff member (joined the team in 2021)
The world has changed in more ways than anyone could have imagined over the past 18 months. But throughout all the change, I could always count on the Trans Canada Trail being there for me.
Stretching over 28,000 kilometres, the Trail connects friends and families across every province and territory. Now more than ever, it is an essential resource in supporting people’s mental health, mine included.
As I reflect on the past months, it’s clear that the Trans Canada Trail has played a significant role in my life, and I’m grateful it was there to support me every step along the way.
Here are three reasons why I’m thankful for the Trans Canada Trail:
1. Exercising on the Trail clears my head
At the beginning of the pandemic, I often felt vulnerable, especially when considering the uncertainty regarding the health and safety of my loved ones. It wasn’t long until that uncertainty spiralled into feeling trapped, not only indoors, but trapped in my head, wondering:
- Will life ever return to normal?
- Will I ever get to see my family abroad?
- Can I survive the pandemic financially?
Soon, it was clear that I’d be overwhelmed if I didn’t make a change in my daily life. So, I took to walking and running along the Waterfront Trail section of the TCT and haven’t looked back since.
After my first visit, I immediately noticed the positive effects of spending time outdoors. I was in a better mood, I felt stronger physically, and most importantly, I was no longer searching for answers on issues out of my control. As the amount of time I spent immersed in nature increased, the swings in my emotions decreased.
In a sense, the Trail had become my anchor, and no matter what I was going through, I always knew that I had a safe place to clear my head. It was an enormous relief and a luxury that I have not since taken for granted.
2. The Trail brings my community closer together
As I get older, I’ve noticed that it’s not always easy to fit in time with friends and family. When I want company, but no one’s around, I can always count on meeting the friendliest people along the Trail. Whether it’s discussing a run with a fellow jogger or listening to a wildlife enthusiast explain what makes each bird unique, every visit to the Trail is full of meaningful encounters.
That’s exactly what makes the Trans Canada Trail so special. It strengthens the bond of every community it runs through by evoking the best traits in those who use it. From brief chats that brighten one’s day to long-lasting friendships kindled by a mutual admiration for the outdoors, I’ve gained countless memories with people I never would have encountered if the Trail hadn’t brought us together.
3. The Trail is a great place to spend quality time with loved ones
Over the past few months, the Trans Canada Trail has helped me deal with my sister moving out of our family home into a place of her own. We are very close and I couldn’t be happier for her. However, I was worried her move meant we’d no longer have a place to call our own.
As it turned out, we began meeting up on the Waterfront Trail section a lot more often since it was a convenient location for both of us. Soon after, I found that spending time together, immersed in nature, strengthened our relationship and the quality of our visits.
Over time, I realized the quantity of time you spend with someone is not always as important as the quality of time you spend with them. That’s something I’ll never forget, and I’m thankful that I have access to such a wonderful new place that my sister and I can call our own.
As you can see, the Trans Canada Trail has developed a very personal meaning for me over the past while. It’s provided joy, relief, a sense of community, and so much more. Now, every time I set foot on the Trail, I think of the millions of Canadians just like me, whose relationship with nature has made a tremendously positive impact on their lives and gives them a new reason to be thankful for the Trail, each of which validates the hard work of the Trans Canada Trail organization, the dedication of local Trail groups, and the ongoing generosity of our donors.
On that note, I encourage you to regularly consider what the Trans Canada Trail means to you; if we’re anything alike, you’ll learn something new every day.
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