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Halifax to Toronto on foot 

One couple's 1,600-kilometre hike for charity.

click to enlarge Jillian Moran and Aaron Beck rest up before their big summer trip. - LENNY MULLINS
  • Jillian Moran and Aaron Beck rest up before their big summer trip.
  • LENNY MULLINS

Living in the city has its upsides: lots of people, public transportation and plenty of things to do. But the hustle and bustle can be tiring after awhile. That’s one of a few reasons why Aaron Beck and Jillian Moran decided to walk from Halifax to Toronto this summer, tenting all the way. Well, sort of.

“Tenting would be a very loose definition,” says Moran. “We’ll probably just be tarping it,” Beck adds.

They’re taking some time and space for their own mental health, but the walk isn’t just for the pair’s benefit. The couple is also raising money for local charity reachAbility.

“We went on their website and found out their summer camps have been cancelled this year because of funding cuts,” says Moran.

Camp reachAbility focuses on issues of disability and mental health, bringing together nearly 500 disenfranchised individuals and at-risk youth every year for trauma interventions and social coping techniques. The six-year-old program saw its funding cut this spring by the department of Community Services.

“Their idea is to be a place for mobility to flourish rather than like, disabilities to be dealt with,” Moran says.

As of Wednesday, the couple has raised almost $920 for reachAbility on its GoFundMe page.

Beck is from Toronto, while Moran is from the Niagara area. After the trek on foot, which they plan to spread out over six weeks, they will be visiting their parents.

“I’ll probably just keep walking to my father’s house,” says Moran.

The distance from Halifax to Toronto is a whopping 1,600 kilometres. Fortunately, Beck and Moran have allotted time so they can take rest when they need it. From the sounds of it, though, rest isn’t their top priority.

“I really want to climb a couple mountains along the way,” Beck says.

But why walk? Do they really hate planes and cars that much?

“Originally, it started out with just camping, and us trying to get out every weekend to go camping,” says Beck.

“Instead of going out on the weekend, buying a bunch of beer and hanging out, we’ll be doing something very productive,” explains Moran “We’ll be healthy.”

Over the course of the journey, the pair will visit six national and provincial parks. With all that walking, they’ll need to pack lightly. Moran is only planning on two outfits, while Beck says he’ll bring “quick dry” clothing in preparation for rain. As for food, they’ll be eating a lovely spread of dehydrated dishes such as beef jerky and dried fruit, among other things.

“Lentils will be good, because you can carry a rather small amount and get a lot of nutrients and protein out of it,” says Beck, who’s bringing a Bunsen burner along to cook meals.

Beck and Moran plan on leaving Halifax in July. They’ll be blogging whenever they “get to a town that has a coffee shop with wi-fi,” says Beck. In addition, the couple will be filming a short documentary along the way for the Bluenose-Ability Film Festival. Beck will be taking video and photos while Moran writes the narrative.

“The focus is on disability culture, and how awesome people can be when they have barriers,” explains Moran of the festival.

Moran says some people find it hard to believe they will actually go through with the lengthy jaunt. Until July rolls around, we may just have the give them the benefit of the doubt.

“We’ll have a ton of fun instead of just doing the same old grind,” says Beck.

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