A man just finished his trek of Canada’s Great Trail after first embarking on it 10 years ago. The hiker, Dana Meise, was inspired to take this 37-million step hike in honor of his father who suffered a brain aneurysm when Dana was 12-year-old and the dad was forced to learn how to walk again. He watched his dad persevere for years before he got back on his feet.
The hike itself was not a continuous 10-year hike. He broke it up into seconds of 6 to 8 months of hiking and then 4 to 6 months back on the job. Dana’s a forestry technician in British Columbia and that afforded him some flexibility in his work schedule to take on a challenge like this.
In 2006, his father suffered a stroke and once again lost the ability to walk. This time it was permanent. That’s when Dana Meise decided to embark on the 10-year-long hike spanning over 13,000 miles.
“That was the moment that clicked, what if that happened to me,” he said.
“I promised my dad I’d walk enough for the both of us.” (via)
The trail stretches coast to coast and covers both land and water, flats and mountains. It stretches from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes on over to the Pacific and then up into the northern tips of Canda.
Starting out in Newfoundland he completed his journey, which covered every province and territory, 37,800,000 steps later.
Meise saved money from his forestry job and tackled the trail in six-to-eight-month chunks and went back to work in between.
“It was years and years and years and although I wasn’t walking, I didn’t go home,” he said.
“I just walked, worked, walked, worked and just kept one foot in front of the other.
“I’m just a regular Canadian, anyone could have done what I’ve done.” (via)
I can’t imagine a more solitary way to spend 10-years. Sure, you’ll run into hundreds of people along the trail and make memories with those people. But for the most part you are completely alone in an endeavor such as this. It’s just you and your gear out there all alone for the better part of a decade.
The conditions of his hike sounded brutal at times, as you’d expect with the weather in Northern Canada.
At night, he said it’s dropped as low as -40 degrees with the wind, and he got a nip of frostbite earlier this week.
Nevertheless, on Thursday evening he made it to Tuktoyaktuk, completing his lifelong dream; and it’s in part thanks to the community.
“Luckily the people of Tuk have really rallied for me,” he said. “Without them I don’t think I could have actually completed [this]. And I was so close, so I’m extremely grateful.”
Technically, Meise had already reached his final destination several times before Thursday night.
People stopped on the side of the road to drive him to Tuktoyaktuk to spend the night, then they would drop him where he left off the next morning.
“As much as I’m super excited to finish … I’m also excited to get home,” he said. (via)
I’d love to try and tackle something like this. Whether it be the Appalachian Trail or something similar out west. But before I ever did anything like that I’d love to talk with some people who have completed these hikes and ask what it was like when they were done.
Was there a sense of finality or have you been working toward a goal for so long that the pursuit of a goal was your new normal? I could imagine that going back to life without that challenge in front of you could be a bit boring.
I have two relatives who have ridden their bicycles across America twice, California to the Northeast, I think that might be more my speed because I’m not entirely sure my knees could handle a several-thousand-mile hike after I’ve already torn my meniscus twice in life.
For more on this trek, you can click here to read the CBC’s coverage.