Dartmouth native Jeff Laybolt spent some time in Tatamagouche last month as he makes his way across Canada hiking the Great Trail. He started March 1 at Shubie Park in Dartmouth and is heading to Victoria in support of Diabetes Canada. Submitted photo

It’s not every day someone camps out at Nelson Park at the tail end of winter.

But that’s exactly what Jeff Laybolt did last month as he made his way through the province on his cross-Canada trek in support of Diabetes Canada.

The 35-year-old Dartmouth native is keeping to the Great Trail, which took him to the park.

“My mom was diagnosed with Type 2 about five years ago, and we learned there were three or four generations on her side of the family with Type 2,” said Laybolt. “After doing some more research, I thought about getting involved in doing something for her and to bring about awareness of Type 2 diabetes.”

He said walking across the country wasn’t the original idea, but by driving through Canada, one often misses the beauty.

“Type 2 diabetes is very big on diet and exercise, those kinds of things. Getting people out and active is the important thing. I don’t have to do what I’m doing, but this is my way of showing support for it.”

Laybolt started his trek March 1 at Shubie Park in Dartmouth, and travelled 290 kilometres by the time he reached Tatamagouche. The entire Great Trail is 24,000 kilometres. Some, however, are strictly water trails, which Laybolt won’t be travelling.

The walking section is roughly 21,000 kilometres.

“It does hit every province and territory, but this year I’m only doing from Dartmouth to Victoria,” he said. “Next year, I’ll complete Newfoundland, and Edmonton to the Yukon.”

He’s hoping to raise about $10,000 along the way in support of Diabetes Canada.

He says the trek takes about eight to 10 months, but says it could be closer to 10 to 11, depending on a number of factors such as weather.

“I’m tenting along the way,” he said. “Once in a while I’ll stay in a hotel, but for the most part it’s tenting. Mentally, it’s not as big a challenge as I’ve always been in the woods. But to prepare physically, I had been hiking with a full pack of gear on, and walking to and from work. I also had been eating the food plan before leaving to get my body adjusted to it.”

Laybolt had been kicking the idea of the hike around for years, however it came to fruition about a year-and-a-half ago after he watched ‘A Walk in the Woods’ where the main character, played by Robert Redford, plans to hike the Appalachian Trail in its entirety.

“It was an instant click that I have to have that experience,” said Laybolt.

On average, Laybolt’s been tracking about 15 kilometres each day. Some days, he gets in only five kilometres, however.

“It all depends how I get going in the morning and what the conditions are like,” he said. “The averages change daily.”

Throughout his excursion, Laybolt has a team supporting him and helping him manage social media accounts. Laybolt records a video daily, and posts a video about once a week. He’s also taking lots of photos to remember the adventure.

While there are many things he hopes to see along the way, it’s Niagara Falls that Laybolt dreams of seeing.

“My whole life I’ve wanted to see Niagara Falls, so to get to walk to the falls is something I’m really looking forward to,” he said.

To follow Laybolt on his trek, check out his Facebook and Twitter accounts under ‘The Great Walk About’. His progress can be tracked on GPS by visiting https://us0-share.inreach.garmin.com/TCT, and the GoFundMe can be found at https://bit.ly/2G6mSZA.