She has been hiking across Canada for over a year now.

43-year-old Melanie Vogel is hiking through the Muskoka region, having stopped in Bracebridge before continuing on to Huntsville using the Great Trail.    She left the easternmost tip of Canada, Cape Spear, Newfoundland, in June 2017. To date she has knocked down nearly 5,000 km of her projected 15,000 km trip.

A former German national who got her permanent resident status 10 years ago, she hikes summer and winter.

It is not a walk to bring attention to any particular group, or fundraising for research. It is a journey of self-discovery that keeps her feet moving west.

Allan Gentle and wife Joan have followed Melanie’s trip on Facebook as their son Tim had told them about her journey. They invited her to stay at their home as she came through the area.

While she stayed at the Gentle’s home in Bracebridge Tuesday evening to get out of the rain, Melanie is fiercely honest about walking the whole trail. Which means she was dropped in Gravenhurst Wednesday and hike back the 25 km to Bracebridge to complete that portion legitimately, before spending a second night with the Gentles.

Before beginning her epic journey Melanie worked as a coordinator for a variety of not for profit charities.

Things she has learned along the way include being brutal in her personal accounting of what is actually needed in a backpack.

“What do you really need and what did you not touch over the last weeks and months?” she says.
“I changed my tent into a lighter tent and a small bag of clothes for the summer.”

Mel Vogel was scared some nights of the cold she was experiencing and in this picture – nearby wolves. (www.betweentwosunsets.com photo)

This will be swapped out with heavier gear for the winter, and then she retrieves a hiking sled to carry the extra equipment needed.

She crossed New Brunswick and Quebec this past winter and admitted it was harder than she thought it would be.

“I didn’t start off as a pro in winter camping,” she admits. “I kind of tested myself last year and minus 16 (and below) were the nights I couldn’t sleep.”

The prospect of crossing the prairies in winter does have her worried.

“I am not even sure it will be possible to hike through the winter,” she admits.

Despite her worries about the winter months Melanie continues to marvel about the welcome she receives from Canadians wherever she goes.

“I just got a place to stay in Huntsville from someone following me on Facebook!” she wrote excitedly in a follow-up email. “It’s why I love Canada!”

She did have an original completion date of July 2019 but says now “when the trip is over, that will be the last day.”

She is being supported on her journey through her ongoing coverage of the Odyssey on The Great Trail Website . You can also follow her on Facebook.