Southeastern Manitoba has seen both incredible snowfalls and incredible cold in the past few weeks and a woman staying at the Rennie Hotel is using these conditions to practice for her camping expedition to the Northwest Territories.
“I’m hiking to the Arctic and I will encounter the same weather over there as right here in Manitoba,” says Melanie Vogel.
Vogel has been hiking across Canada since she left Cape Spear, Newfoundland in June of 2017. Her progress along the Trans Canada Trail suddenly stopped cold as she entered the Whiteshell just as the polar vortex hit.
Upon arriving in the Whiteshell, Vogel quickly realized her clothing was not capable of handling -40ºC. Instead of tenting as per usual, Vogel hunkered down in the Rennie Hotel while she waited for the weather to pass. She expected to wait three days. It has now been over four weeks.
Vogel has spent recent days ordering warmer supplies, and calling the Northwest Territories RCMP to put a safety plan in place should something go wrong.
“Sitting down right now and planning ahead is equally important as being on the trail; it’s all part of the learning,” she comments.
Vogel willingly admits that any long journey has setbacks. “I didn’t plan on going through the Manitoba prairies in winter,” she laughs. Nevertheless, delays elsewhere during her trip have placed her in Rennie during one of the coldest times of the year.
When asked why she would embark on such a lengthy endeavor Vogel replies simply: “I have always wanted to see Canada.” Vogel moved to Canada from Germany ten years ago and fell in love with the country. When she first heard about the Great Trail several years ago it seemed, to her, a logical path to take.
“Back then when I made this decision I didn’t realize how good of a decision it was,” offers Vogel. “When you walk, you develop a much deeper connection to the land and to the people in their communities because you are taking the time.”
Vogel says she has been shocked at the kindness she has received all across Canada, but specifically from this part of the province. “The people here in Manitoba are awesome,” states Vogel, who notes that several of her nights at the Rennie Hotel have been fully paid for by anonymous residents who have dropped by to support her journey.
“Its actually unbelievable how much hospitality I have experienced. The people here are so selfless.”
Still, Vogel has now spent a significant amount of time in one spot and hopes to get moving as soon as possible.
“My wish is to have a few more extremely cold nights so I can test my gear here in Rennie before heading out.”
Vogel plans on treking from Rennie into Saskatchewan, then up to the Northwest Territories. She plans on eventually ending her travels in BC in 2020. She says this journey is made possible by a small collection of sponsors and a much larger group of people throughout the country who have been happy to give her lodging, food, and friendship.
Those interested in following Vogel's adventures can find her on facebook at "Between Sunsets: A Trail Story".