Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!!


This past year has been one of discovery, learning, hard work, and looking towards the future, and it seems to have flown by in the blink of an eye.  It has also been a story of how courage, patience, persistence, and faith in the impossible can achieve unexpected things.  Highlights of our year include publishing a website showcasing some of Sean's photography in the early months of the year.  We also completed two end-to-end hikes on Ontario's Bruce Trail, in the Blue Mountains section and on the Laura Secord Trail. June and July saw us heading east to Newfoundland to hike 250 km along the East Coast Trail - the eastern most spur of Canada's Great Trail.   Our hike began with a snow storm and ended with a tropical storm testing us and our equipment with the full range of weather.  In between we visited Cape Spear, the eastern most point in North America, saw Minke and Humpback whales, bald eagles, seals, and millions of Atlantic Puffins and other seabirds during a boat tour of the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, enjoyed a naturally occurring water spout, stopped to explore the history and cuisine of the Colony of Avalon, and passed the spot where the famous Mayflower ship spent its first winter in North America.  It was a wonderful adventure, during which we met many friendly Newfoundlanders and other hikers, and confirmed for ourselves that we can survive, and do enjoy, long-distance hiking in Canada. In August I traveled to BC for the International Ornithological Congress, and got a chance to spend some time visiting my parents while also clarifying our 2019-2021 plans with my own colleagues. 

Amidst these smaller adventures, we began one big one, which consumed most of our time and energy this past year.  Sometime last spring we decided it was time for a change in our lives, which will take the form of a three-year hike across Canada.  We plan to start in Cape Spear, NL in June 2019, walk west towards Victoria, BC, and then head north to Tuktoyaktuk, NT on a 24,000 km hike along the Great Trail. As we walk we will be raising awareness of the importance of conserving wild birds and their habitats across Canada, and we are hoping to connect families and youth to nature through birding.  Preparations for this hike have consumed nearly all our time outside of work, but the rewards have already been astonishing.  With unprecedented luck and a huge amount of effort we have been working on a collaboration with Bird Studies Canada to strengthen our message, received an offer of sponsorship, been given the opportunity to share our plans on the CBC across the nation, been interviewed by Explorersweb, and met a whole network of generous and creative people interested in working with us to encourage people to get outside, enjoy nature, and find a deeper connection in their lives.  So far this has been an amazing learning experience. 

We would like to thank everyone who has helped make 2018 another wonderful year for us.  May you all find peace, love, health, prosperity, and the patience and courage to achieve something you are truly proud of in the coming year.   Happy New Year!

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