Friday, June 1, 2018

Hikers Who Came Before Us

Once we decided to undertake this journey, one of the first things we wanted to figure out was how long it would take us. Second, we also wanted to know whether it would make more sense to walk eastbound or westbound on the trails connecting St. John's, NL and Victoria, BC, and whether we wanted to walk or paddle the sections between Edmonton AB and Tuktoyaktuk, NT. There is no single guidebook for the entire trail network to provide answers to these basic questions, so we began by investigating what the intrepid explorers who have hiked this route end-to-end before us have done.

Kyle Pickering and Bobby McDowell walked large sections of the Trans Canada Trail together, hiking from west to east along 7,953 km of the pathway, and reaching Cape Spear NL in June 2006. According to their website it took them one year and five months to complete the hike.

Dana Meise walked the entire length of the east to west portion of the trail, and then walked south to north, getting as far as Whitehorse before the winter of 2016. He is now hiking the last stretch of trail up to Tuktoyaktuk to become the first person to complete the entire Trans Canada Trail, coast-to-coast-to-coast, as of November 1st 2018. He has been hiking for six months/year, and it will have taken him ten years to walk the entire trail. En route, Dana has posted regular blog updates, facebook postings, and videos from the trail. All are enjoyable and worth checking out!

Sarah (Rose) Jackson was the first woman to complete the east-west portion of the trail. She walked solo from west to east, finishing in 2017, and it took her one day less than two years to finish. She also created online postings for people to follow as she hiked.

Mel Vogel is one of two women currently solo-hiking end-to-end on the Great Trail. She is walking east to west, and has reached the prairies in the fall of her second year on the trail. Her postings and adventure have garnered national attention, and she can be followed on her website as well as on facebook, instagram, and twitter.

Diane Whelan is also currently out there, walking, biking, and paddling the east-west portion of the trail. She is filming a documentary called '500 Days in the Wild' on her journey, and connecting with many Native American groups along the way. She too is in the prairies in her third year on the trail and has posted many amazing pictures and videos on Facebook and her website along the way.

Although others may have attempted and completed this trail, these were the accounts we found online. If you have made the journey, or know someone who has, we would love to hear any stories or advice you have to share. Half the adventurers we read about walked east to west, and the other half chose the reverse direction. Their different styles, approaches, and goals suggest it can take anywhere from 1.5 years to a decade to complete the hike. With a trail this long, and an adventure of this magnitude, it seems there is no 'typical' way to do it - each adventure is unique in almost every way. 

If anyone knows of others who have completed large sections of the former Trans Canada Trail, now the Great Tail, or of other hikers who have trekked the entire length of the trail system itself we would love to hear their stories! Feel free to leave us a comment below!

In addition to these incredible individuals there are a number of other explorers and adventurers who have inspired us including the incomparable Terry Fox, Canadian peace advocate Jean BĂ©liveau, intrepid Cheryl Strayed  the author of the best selling book Wild, Canadian Astronaut and promoter of the sciences Chris Hadfield, and more recently the ladies known as the Byway Babes, who trekked across Canada by canoe raising awareness for Cystic Fibrosis.