Benjamin Pinch passed through Penticton, on his west-east walk across Canada. (Phil McLachlan - Western News)

Benjamin Pinch passed through Penticton, on his west-east walk across Canada. (Phil McLachlan - Western News)

700km in on a walk across Canada, B.C. man passes through Okanagan

Benjamin Pinch talks dropping everything to fulfill his lifelong dream of walking across the country

Benjamin Pinch is not the same man he was 44 days ago. The woods, he says, have a habit of changing you.

It’s dusk, and his silhouette bobs as he ascends the Kettle Valley Rail Trail towards the Little Tunnel, overlooking the South Okanagan town of Naramata. Weaving around him is his canine partner, Jade, carrying her own food in a makeshift saddlebag.

The arid, rocky landscape is covered with desert grasses, bushes and cacti. Turkey vultures fly overhead, some landing to take shelter from the impending rain in the distance.

Clad in a wool poncho and jeans, it’s the twinkle in his eyes that catches your attention.

With over 700 kilometers now behind him, every day Pinch comes one step closer to his final destination: Newfoundland. His reason for walking across Canada? To fulfill a lifelong dream.

READ MORE: ‘It’s going to be a test by fire’: Northern B.C. men build homemade catamaran

Now through Penticton, Pinch has but 23,221 km to go on his eastbound adventure.

“It’s my second dream, I already accomplished my first dream: I got my self-sustaining cabin out in the woods,” he says. “When I was younger, probably elementary school, Terry Fox was going across Canada, ever since then, it stuck in my head.”

It’s at this cabin in Winnipegosis, MB, that the Campbell River native plans to hunker down for the winter, before completing his walk by the end of summer 2021.

Campbell River native Benjamin Pinch has been hiking since May, his final destination, Newfoundland. To stay safe amid COVID-19, he has been keeping his distance, only been stopping when essential, washing his hands and also carries sanitizer. (Phil McLachlan – Western News)


The 32-year-old has been walking his entire life. In fact, he didn’t feel the need to get his driver’s licence until he was 25. In Campbell River, he ran a cleaning business, Static Cleaning, off of his bike.

At the beginning of May, Pinch sold some of his possessions, and with the support of his kids, left home.

“It’s kind of like a big spiritual journey too. Something just told me at the same sense, this is the time to do it, it’s the time to go now. Just go,” he says.

Sticking to the Great Trail (also known as the Trans Canada Trail), Pinch covers about 30 kilometers a day. Coming out the other side, he hopes to gain a deeper understanding of himself.

It wasn’t until he starting walking, and had time to think, that Pinch realized he had already accomplished his first dream. Time on the trail has allowed him to slow down and examine himself.

“I had a tough time to slow down and process, and go through the things in my life, because I was always a super, super busy person,” he says. “I worked days; I worked nights.”

So far he’s been blessed with good weather, good people, and just a few wild animals. One section, however, caught him off guard.

“Coming over Paleface Mountain [East of Chilliwack Lake] I wasn’t expecting there to be a whole bunch of snow. There was snow probably up to my neck. I had no snowshoes or nothing, it was nice and hard at least, but in the sun it was soft, and I dropped into a couple of wells and stuff like that,” he says.

“I had the trekking poles that are on the side of my bag and I bent one of them trying to catch myself, so I didn’t break my leg on the ice on the inside.”

At this point he knew he had to slow down if he was going to get through the section safely.

“I was in a rush to get down the mountain because it had taken me too long, and I didn’t want to be stuck on the top.”

READ MORE: Snow delays summer opening of Big White Ski Resort

It was on this mountain that Pinch also encountered two black bears. He saw two more once he entered into the Okanagan region.

He also came across another predator that wasn’t as skittish as the bears.

Pinch rounded a corner and saw a cougar stopped on the trail in front of him. After discharging a bear-banger, the cougar weaved from side to side, and disappeared.

“It’s been pretty epic,” says Pinch.

The view from Little Tunnel, down to Okanagan Lake, looking North. (Phil McLachlan – Western News)


Along the journey so far, Pinch has met some interesting people. Those that take the time to stop and say hello will hear his story; others who walk or ride past will never know.

“A lot of people, they think it’s an impossible journey, but realistically when you actually think about it, you’re just walking. And how much walking do you do every single day,” he says.

“Just go and do it. Because if it’s one of your dreams, you’re going to be working towards somebody else’s dream the rest of your life, so you might as well stop what you’re doing and do what you need to do, to get your dreams out of the way.”

Pinch has no plans of stopping once he completes the Great Trail. Next he hopes to take on the Pacific Crest Trail, a 4,270 kilometer trail winding down from the Canadian border, through Washington, south to the U.S./Mexico border.

“After all this is done, I think I’m just going to keep on walking.”

Throughout his journey, when he has service, Pinch updates his Facebook page, Stacking The Steps. Follow him on his adventures by clicking here.

READ MORE: Camps once housed workers along Kettle Valley Railway

READ MORE: Peace Arch Park to close amid dozens using it as loophole in COVID-19 border restrictions

@PentictonNews
editor@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Outdoors

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

Community mental health workers are in high demand, and a new program at Selkirk College will provide opportunities in this field. File Photo
Selkirk College to train community mental health workers

Twelve students will complete two courses enabling them to work in health and human services

Dr. Cori Lausen, bat specialist, has questions about logging in an unusual bat habitat near Beasley. Photo: Submitted
Kaslo biologist questions logging at unique West Kootenay bat site

Dr. Cori Lausen, a bat specialist, studies a population of bats above Beasley

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Vernon's Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with an influenza outbreak amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Two more deaths at Vernon care home

Noric House case numbers remain steady, but death toll rises

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Most Read