2 of Her 25 Years Spent a-Walkin’ Record-Breaking Journey Ends in Cape Spear
Some of us can’t imagine walking to work in the morning, or home from downtown on a Friday. Sarah Jackson recently walked for 6 to 11 hours a day, for 475 days between June 2015 and June 2017 journey.
In doing so, she became the first woman to ever walk the Great Trail, from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic.
Like a lot of young 20-somethings, Sarah wanted to go on an adventure upon graduating university. But she bypassed 2 weeks in Europe, or a beach in the Bahamas, and went right for a world-record trek from BC to Cape Spear, Newfoundland.
The thought of a break from 17 years in school, and having months and months on end to clear her head, was a big reason she committed to the trek. As she told The Great Trail website, “Walking for eight hours a day necessitates a new way of thinking.”
She did it alone, with an emergency beacon in her pack in case of trouble. The self-sufficiency of the journey towards Cape Spear (and the record books) was a big part of the appeal. An uncle had told her about his own adventure along Spain’s Camino de Santiagoro trail, and the seed of adventure took root in her.
But that was Spain – home of sunshine, tapas, and a more hospitable climate – and she did her solo adventure in rainy-cold Canada. It’s no surprise she says that facing down the weather was her biggest challenge.
The cold days, and, especially, the wet days. It sounds like a physical drain, but she found a rhythm and got in tune with her body, knowing when she could push herself, or when she needed a break. And based on pictures she shared along the way, the scenery and serenity she was soaking up in her downtime was restorative in a way most of us can’t imagine.
As she’s said, “it wasn’t finishing the trail that meant something to me – it was the process of walking it.” Not that she spent every night in the woods on pond banks alone. Many a kind Canadian took her in for a home-cooked meal and night in a bed as they heard of her story along the way, while other outdoor enthusiasts – friends and perfect strangers – jumped in and joined her for sections of the trek.
The Great Trail is the world’s largest system of connected trails, and she walked the soles off of 7 pairs of boots to conquer it. Yet Sarah is pretty humble about the whole affair.
“Knowing you only have to put one foot in front of the other really puts things into perspective.” All that time alone sounded awfully lonely to some of her supporters, but she says there’s a difference between loneliness and being alone, and she got to the point of not feeling alone in nature.
“I didn’t feel lonely at all,” she’s said. “I felt like I was surrounded [by nature].” In fact, she says she feels intermittent pangs that she ought to be on the trail again. Upon arriving in Newfoundland though, she was seldom alone. Friends and family arrived to join her on the last leg of her journey. You can see a photo a day from her journey on Instagram, via @sarahrosewalks, and live vicariously through the endless scroll of her photos