From coast to coast to coast: Sherwood Park man set to finish record hike
'After 10 years I think it’s time to move on, and I’m comfortable with that'
Dana Meise has spent the past decade walking across the country — a 21,000-kilometre pursuit to become the first person to touch all three coasts on the Trans Canada Trail.
On Tuesday, just 150 km away from the end of the monumental trek and with more than 30 million paces behind him, a single step nearly jeopardized the dream.
"I was literally taking a step and I don't remember much else," he said.
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Meise was descending a hill just outside of Inuvik, NWT, as he started the last leg of the trail to coastal Tuktoyaktuk. He slipped, smashed his head on the ice and was knocked unconscious.
He sustained a concussion and woke up in the Inuvik hospital later that afternoon, where Meise stayed until the next day.
"My spine feels like someone tried to tear it out and I'm sore, my head hurts, but it is what it is," he said.
Despite the pain, Meise said he was recovering well and determined to see the Arctic Ocean by next week. It will mark the end of a trip that's taken him through more than a 1,000 communities, beginning in Cape Spear, N.L. in the summer of 2008.
It hasn't been a continuous journey: Meise would spend half the year away from the trail working as a forestry technician in Prince George, B.C., before rejoining the Trans Canada as he covered roughly 16,500 kilometres east to west. He also took a three-year hiatus after suffering a concussion and back injury at work in 2015.
The trip has never been about speed, Meise said, even amidst this latest frustrating setback so close to the end.
"People now are preordained in the way they look at the world to think that you always have to be in a hurry," he said.
"At the end here, I don't want to rush it. I've been here for just over a week and met so many people and filmed a lot and it was beautiful."
Meise has been chronicling the trip in posts on Facebook and Twitter when Internet connection permits. Mostly, his reflections are contained in dozens of notebooks that if stacked side-by-side he said would be more than a metre long.
When he returns to his home in Sherwood Park, he hopes to turn the past 10 years of memories into a book and a documentary.
"I think my contribution will be knitting the country together. I'm hoping that I knit it together in a way that brings a better understanding to make a better country," he said.
"Let's be more than a beer commercial and a hockey game, because we are more than that."
Meise is not dramatic or wistful as he talks about how he expects to feel when he arrives in Tuktoyaktuk, NWT.
"I think it's going to be short-lived. I think it's going to be awfully cold," he said with a laugh.
"After 10 years I think it's time to move on, and I'm comfortable with that."