11 July, 2024

A Journey to Well-being Over Thousands of Kilometres

Ben Pinch on the Trans Canada Trail

Why Ben Pinch is raising awareness about the benefits of nature – and supporting Trans Canada Trail

Ben and Krysti sitting on the ground next to a cart.

Meet Ben Pinch, also known as Stacking the Steps. In 2020, inspired by Terry Fox, Ben set out along the Trans Canada Trail for what was then an indeterminate amount of time; he just started walking. Ben describes himself as an “outdoorsperson with a fascination for nature.” He’s had survival training, learned about edible plants, and taken outdoor education classes and more. He credits being on the Trail with playing a part in helping him to heal, both physically and mentally. He found that his stomach ulcers cleared up and hip and spine ailments improved and eventually went away; and he was able to destress and feel a sense of calm that had been eluding him. Since then, Ben has walked over 2,000 kilometres of the Trail. He aims to raise awareness about the mental and physical health benefits of being in nature while raising funds for Trans Canada Trail.

We spoke to Ben from Grandview, Manitoba, when he was taking a break after a weeklong stint on the Trail, along with his dog, Jade, and partner, Krysti.

The healing properties of nature

A person with a cup of coffee and a dog in the peaceful woods. une personne avec une tasse de café et un chien dans les bois paisibles.

“Nature and trail systems have a special place in my heart because they’ve shown me a path to healing and becoming reconnected with nature; they don’t have just physical health benefits,” he says. “There are many ways we can develop through [both] the hardships and good times spent out in nature. Everything becomes a learning experience and an opportunity for growth.”

Ben cites the Trans Canada Trail as where his “healing journey really started.” He explains that spending time connecting with himself along the Trail helped him to “reduce the chaos” in his life, allowing him to reflect and heal. In nature, your mind becomes clearer, he says.

‘The Trail was there for me’

Ben reached out to staff at Trans Canada Trail with the offer to raise funds for the organization via a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. In peer-to-peer campaigns, the person fundraising takes on the bulk of the responsibility. Ben worked hard spreading the word through his own social media channels and reaching out to his community, asking for support.

“I choose to support the Trans Canada Trail because the Trail was there for me,” he explains. “I’m very grateful to have access to such a well-maintained trail system, and I understand that to keep the Trail connected and well-maintained for everyone’s enjoyment, it takes the time of volunteers, and money for maintenance and supplies. I always encourage others to get out in nature and enjoy life. Every aspect of nature has a lesson to be explored and knowledge to give, so get out there and enjoy it.”

Celebrating community connection

Ben Pinch and a friend strolling on a dirt road. Ben Pinch et un ami se promenant sur un chemin de terre.

Through his extensive time spent on the Trans Canada Trail, Ben says he’s seen firsthand a lot of the damage the Trail has suffered from wear and tear, climate events and increased usage. “The Trans Canada Trail is a one-of-a-kind trail system that spans Canada. That’s something to be proud of. It’s a huge resource of free tools for healing. I hope to help others find these resources that will help them along their healing journey, in the way it helped me on mine. I also hope to help the Trans Canada Trail stay open and connected for like-minded adventurers to go out and experience, and so others can find healing through nature and connection somewhere in the vast network this Canadian marvel has to offer,” he explains.

While Ben was out on the Trans Canada Trail, he says he saw many communities connecting and using the Trans Canada Trail in the area for travel, leisure, and physical and mental health. He believes the Trail plays a role in keeping these smaller communities going. “I feel that it brings a sense of pride to the areas. To be involved with Canadian history and help maintain these trail systems ensures that their history withstands time as well. It’s really a win/win for everyone,” he explains.

Donate today

Learn more about Ben’s journey along the Trans Canada Trail and donate to his fundraising campaign here. We thank Ben for all the hard work raising funds for our cause and advocating for the benefits of the outdoors. Happy trails!