East coast hiker ends five-year Trans Canada Trail hike in Victoria

East coast hiker ends five-year Trans Canada Trail hike in Victoria

East coast hiker Melanie Vogel ended her five-year journey on the Trans Canada Trail in Victoria Saturday afternoon.

On June 2, 2017, Vogel embarked on what she initially thought would be a two-year solo hike from Cape Spear, Newfoundland, to the Pacific Ocean.

“I wasn’t ready for the arctic. I thought it was too wild,” Vogel told CHEK News.

“All the big animals there, the wolves and grizzlies. I didn’t feel comfortable with it. Then I started walking and within my walk I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m ready. I’m doing the arctic as well.'”

The entire Trans Canada Trail is about 28,000 kilometres long and goes through 15,000 communities.

“The trail is very challenging for some people. We have different levels of difficulty depending on the different segments of where you are,” said Meghan Reddick, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer for Trans Canada Trail.

Reddick said the trail has water, land and cycling routes. She added Vogel walked the entire land route, making her the first woman to do so.

Vogel said her only real hiccup on her journey was when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada in 2020.

She had just made it to the Yukon, where travel restrictions halted her trip for one-and-a-half years.

“I continued my journey this year in April and finished May 5 at the Arctic Ocean, which was a huge milestone for me,” Vogel said. “Then I came down here.”

She added that throughout her journey, she did run into some wildlife, including a moose, some wolves and a grizzly bear in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta.

“A lot of people always, because it’s Canada, say careful bears are out there. I thought when I met the grizzlies [it was] so cool because I thought you can’t walk the entire country and not have an encounter with bears on the trail,” Vogel laughed.

“They were very good and behaved very well, so I was not afraid and it was an OK situation.”

As her journey went on, Vogel started to name it the “solo walk powered by human kindness”.

She said people, throughout the provinces and territories, would house her, let her use their shower and share a meal. She added it was “mindboggling” how nice complete strangers were treating her.

“I came to the conclusion that such a long journey you can’t do alone. You need the support of people along the way,” Vogel stated.

She said that support came from all over the country, including Victoria where dozens of people gathered to watch her walk up to the Trans Canada Trail Mile Zero marker at Clover Point.

“So many people came out. I feel, I don’t know, so loved,” she exclaimed.

Over the last five years, Vogel said she would romanticize what finishing the trail would be like. She said she always envisioned it being just her.

“I thought I walked alone and I will sit there and have my own campfire. I would sit by the ocean, maybe have a beer and reflect on my journey,” Vogel explained.

She said having a crowd to greet her was amazing, overwhelming and something she had never planned for.

Vogel said she now has to re-integrate herself back into society, something she is anxious about.

She told CHEK News that you plan for what it would feel like going on the hike, but you don’t plan for how you feel once you’re done.

She said she does have some anxiety about coming back, but learned over the last five years how grounding and healing nature could be.

“Being out there so often, I feel no matter what I can always step outside, go for a walk, go hit the trail and just breathe,” added Vogel.

Vogel’s entire journey is documented on the Trans Canada Trail website.

Mackenzie ReadMackenzie Read

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