LEFT: Magee and Cedric. RIGHT: Map of the Trans Canada Trail
There’s hiking, and then there’s 5 months of hiking. This spring outdoor gear company WOODS Canada launched a contest where two lucky couples would win a chance to hike, paddle, climb, portage and camp their way across Canada via parts of the Trans Canada Trail. The expedition would come with a salary and all the gear required and when the winners were announced in April a pair of Whistler locals had made the cut.
Magee Walker is a 28-year-old local writer who specializes in mountain culture and outdoor excitement. Her boyfriend Cedric Schell is a Ziptrek guide, paramedic and part-time firefighter. The Insider hollered at Magee to find out how it feels to skip out on a summer in Whistler and journey across the country as a WOODS Explorer winner.
Insider: How does it feel to be heading out on the adventure of a lifetime?
Magee: It feels absolutely surreal. More than 3,800 people applied to be the Woods Explorers and when we were told that we’d been selected, my jaw literally dropped. It still boggles my mind that we got picked out of all of them. Since then, it’s been the full range of emotions – total shock, then being overwhelmed at the logistics I had to sort out before leaving, then excitement at the opportunity ahead. I’m still stuck in that last stage — excitement— and I have a feeling I’ll be there right through to the last day of this adventure at the end of September.
Great place to train: Whistler alpine hiking.
Insider: Do you think living in Whistler and the lifestyle here played a role in your decision to enter this contest and take on this challenge? How will it help you on the journey?
Magee: When we made the top 10, we were asked to make a 30-minute presentation about ourselves and our vision for the Explorer role. In our presentation, I talked about how people in Whistler don’t care about the material things you have – they care about the adventures you’ve had and the stories you can tell. We applied to be WOODS Explorers because we knew it would be a heck of an adventure and a pretty sweet story.
The Whistler lifestyle is all about living in the present and enjoying every moment as it happens, which will be key for this trip. Embracing that Whistler mentality will help us make the most of every day, even when the weather is rotten and the bugs are crazy.
Insider: What about the physical challenges?
Magee: I’m thinking that living in Whistler has helped prepare us physically for this task, too. I’m hoping that the flat sections of the Trans Canada Trail will feel pretty mellow compared to our usual hikes up mountains!
Insider: What is your favourite Whistler hike?
Magee: Black Tusk is my favourite hike not only in the Whistler area, but in the world. I love how the scenery varies so drastically at different parts, and it’s an incredibly rewarding trek that can be done in a solid day.
Views of Garibaldi Lake from Magee’s favourite Whistler Hike. MAGEE WALKER PHOTO.
Insider: What does your route plan look like? What are you looking forward to the most?
Magee: Cedric and I will be tackling the country from East to West, while the other couple chosen (Melba and Adam) will be travelling from West to East. We’re currently just kicking off our journey in PEI, and it is absolutely beautiful here. We’ll head Through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick before a couple of legs in Quebec. We’ll get to spend Canada Day around Ottawa, which will be awesome, then it’s three legs in Ontario (including one along Lake Superior), a week or so in Manitoba, a leg by the Rockies in Alberta, and up to the MacKenzie River in the North West Territories. We’ll wrap up the trip with a paddle along the Sea to Sky Marine Trail and a hike through the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island.
The East Coast is something we’re both looking forward to, since it is about as far and different from home as we can get. We’re really lucky in that we’ll be traversing some of the very best places along the Trans Canada Trail, so really every stop is a highlight. Wrapping up close to home will be awesome, too.
Insider: You are going on this five-month, 17,000 KM journey with your boyfriend? Thoughts on that? What makes a good adventure partner?
Magee: It’s funny because while Cedric and I have had plenty of adventures together, we are still very independent people. While he’s on the mountain bike, I’m running trails. He works outdoors, I work at home. We both snowboard, but we usually head up with our respective crews. Embarking on this adventure means that we will spend every moment for the next five months together, which will be a big change!
At the same time, there is no one I would rather do this with. Cedric is the perfect adventure partner: he’s super adaptable to different situations and environments, he doesn’t get worked up easily, he’s an experienced outdoorsperson, and he respects my ideas and opinions as much as his own.
Insider: You are already on the trail, any words or wisdom as you embark?
Magee: Our goal in doing this is not just to have the adventure of a lifetime, but to encourage other Canadians to get outside and to explore the Trans Canada Trail. One of the things I love about living in Whistler is that most people there are explorers by nature. They spend lots of time outside, getting their adventure on. With this incredible trip we hope to spread that mentality to the people that we meet along the way and to the people that follow our adventures online.
Insider: Thanks Magee! Have fun.
You can follow Magee and Cedric on at Woods.ca or on the Woods Canada Facebook, Twitter or Instagram channels. Closer to home, you can get your own Whistler hike schedule started with a look at the Insider’s Hiking archives.
Good Luck Magee and Cedric!