'I just keep going': Edmonton woman first on record to complete Trans-Canada trek

After two years of hiking, a young Edmonton woman will be the first on record to complete the Trans-Canada Trail in Cape Spear.

Sarah Jackson will end her cross-country hike in Cape Spear Wednesday

Sarah Jackson from Edmonton arrived at Point Zero East of the Trans Canada Trail at the Railway Coastal Museum in St. John's Tuesday night. (Courtesy of Paul Daly)

After spending the last two years on the Trans Canada Trail, Sarah Jackson is set to become the first woman on record to complete the 11,500 kilometre hike.

The 24-year-old Edmonton woman parked her car in Victoria, B.C. back in June of 2015, and hasn't looked back since.

Two years later, Jackson has arrived in St. John's, where she's expected to stay overnight Tuesday before completing the final leg of the trail Wednesday in Cape Spear. 
After two years on the trail, Sarah Jackson says she gets emotional thinking about the final leg of her cross-country hike. (Chris O'Neill-Yates/CBC)

"I didn't know I'd do the whole thing," says Jackson. 

"I figured I would keep carrying on as long as I was enjoying it and I loved it, so I just kept going." 

Jackson has occasionally had to reroute her hike because the trail system isn't yet complete. She said she does her best to avoid highways, preferring instead to take side roads, logging roads and regional trails.

When it's finished, the TCT is expected to stretch 24,000 kilometres, spanning from Victoria to St. John's, and up to the Northwest Territories.

Jackson is completing the final leg of her trip alongside friends and family. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Safety on the trail

Jackson is travelling alone and, when asked about her safety, said she uses a locator beacon and other measures to feel "relatively comfortable."

"I don't feel any different on the trail as I would in every day life. It's a reflection of how I feel normally. I'm a white woman walking across Canada. Maybe my experience would be different if I wasn't."

I go to bed thinking I live in the most beautiful place.- Sarah Jackson

Jackson said she's heard about others experiencing racism while trekking across the country, and feels fortunate that her hike has been so positive. 

"I'm not naive enough to believe that's the same for everyone," she said.

"If you look at missing and murdered Indigenous women in this country." 

Jackson arrived in Newfoundland and Labrador a month ago, after taking the ferry from Nova Scotia. Since arriving, she's experienced "wonderful" hospitality, with locals offering her everything from shelter to cups of tea along the way.

Sarah Jackson surrounded by friends and family in St. John's Tuesday. The Edmonton woman completed her cross-country hike in less than two years. (Courtesy of Paul Daly)

Now nearing the end of her trip, Jackson said she'd grown accustomed to life on the trail, and she gets emotional when thinking about the end of her journey.  

"It's kind of devastating. I can't imagine anything different right now," she said.

"At night, I'm walking under the stars. It doesn't matter where I land, I go to bed thinking I live in the most beautiful place."

Follow along with Jackson's journey on her blog, Sarah Rose Walks.