Over five years, 26 million steps and 20,000 kilometres will all come to a close on Saturday as hiker and solo adventurer Melanie Vogel finishes her hike across Canada on the Trans-Canada Trail.
Vogel will finish her journey on Saturday by arriving at Point Zero, Clover Point in Victoria.
Upon completing her epic journey, she will become the first woman to make the coast-to-coast-to-coast journey on foot, seeing the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans along the way.
She began this adventure in 2017, in Cape Spear, Newfoundland—Canada’s easternmost point.
Throughout the journey, she was only halted once, and that was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the travel restrictions that came along with it. During that time, she stayed in the Yukon Territories for a year and a half.
Although it is not the westernmost point on the Trans-Canada Trail, Point Zero is the southernmost part of Victoria. Her “solo walk powered by human kindness” will end there.
Vogel will cross this monumental finish line accompanied by Malo, her lab-husky she adopted along her journey in Manitoba. Malo has been her sole companion for the past three and a half years.
Although she travelled with only Malo as her companion, Vogel had the support of followers and admirers as she shared the highlights and low-points of her journey on her website and her social media.
“I never felt this [hike was] too much for me. The freedom, the peace that I have on the Trail and the beauty that I experience outweigh any struggles or suffering that I also experience on the Trail,” Vogel said while en route through Ontario in 2018.
What she thought would be a two-year adventure turned into a three-ocean, five-year spanning journey, her longest yet.
Along the way she says she was humbled and in constant awe of the pristine beauty the Canadian backcountry has to offer.
“When I set foot on the Trail in Newfoundland, I had no idea or expectation of how this walk would unfold,” said Vogel. “I did not know that kindness and my connection to nature and this land would become such major talking points.”
“People stepped up when support was needed: the repair of gear, an invitation to stay at someone’s home to rest up, a sandwich handed through a car window, encouragement from afar, or sometimes just a simple hug or high five on the roadside.”
“Those moments and the stories we shared have shown me the true soul and spirit of this country.”
Vogel has always seen a barrier between women and outdoors exploration. One of her goals in this adventure was to tear down those barriers.
“I wanted to be someone women and young girls can relate to—a city girl who set out on an adventure to reconnect with nature.”
“I shared my experiences and emotions honestly and I talked openly about my failures and what I learnt from them, and shared moments of fears, and how fear finally moved to the back of my mind the more time I spent in nature.”
“Nature invites you to push past your comfort zone, and it made me happy when I received messages from women who felt encouraged by my walk to push theirs a little further.”
With her journey coming to a close, Vogel is feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety. She is excited to start new projects and reconnect with friends she hasn’t seen in over five years. However, she is also anxious about returning to society after being isolated for so long.
“I’ve started telling myself that even though the trail ends the journey has not,” said Vogel. “What gives me the peace and strength to move forward is the thought that this or any other trail will be there for me when I need to step out, sort my thoughts and take a few deep breaths. That thought is comforting.”
In 2022, as Vogel crosses her self-made finish line, the Trans-Canada Trail is also celebrating a milestone. The longest recreational trail in the world is celebrating 30 years.
“We are so proud of Melanie and wholeheartedly celebrate this extraordinary achievement with her,” says Eleanor McMahon, President & CEO, Trans Canada Trail.
“The experience Melanie has had, of connection to nature, to self, to people and to the land, is the very ethos of the Trans Canada Trail.”
“We are all the more thrilled that her accomplishment coincides with two very special anniversaries for the Trans-Canada Trail. In 2017, when she started on her journey, we celebrated the milestone of a connected Trail.”
“We thank Melanie for her tremendous passion for the Trail, and for sharing it with us.”
Anyone and everyone is invited to welcome Vogel to Victoria as she crosses the finish line. She is expected to be arriving at Clover Point around 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 12th.