Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Uncertainty is our Trail....

It is easy to think that it is Covid that has been the main scourge of the past 15 months, or that the Lockdowns have crippled our spirit and economy…but, it seems more likely that the chief disruptor over the last two years has been the uncertainty, anxieties, and frustrations that have arisen that have hindered and hurt us the most.  As we sit here in quarantine (our third quarantine this year) preparing to head back out, I cannot deny that I am excited to get back onto the trail, to camp in nature again, and be free of the daily pressures that we have all experienced for so long now.  However, I also cannot deny that it is unnerving to step out the door, not knowing what is coming, what the trail will be like, what reception we will receive and what people’s reactions will be.   Like everyone else we have spent far too long watching too much news, listening to too many Covid updates, and being given too many warnings about impending dangerous everywhere.  Because of this I feel like the fears of so many others have become mine simply through shear repetition.   In so many ways after months of news and updates I have forgotten to trust those things which I had once come to know to be truth through experience.  Because of this it is oddly hard to head back out. 

Yet, ultimately we all need to find a way to move forward one step at a time.  The same is true in life as it is on the trail.

Not all you carry is in your backpack

Anyone who has travelled or thought of travelling has confronted the same central challenge – what do you take, what do you leave behind?  When hiking and backpacking these questions define not only your initial decisions, but also your daily choices too – what gear do you invest in and carry, what your route it is, where you stop each day, what type of food you have on you, how much water do I need to have each day?  While these are important questions the simple fact is that, not everything we carry with us is the physical stuff that goes into our bags.  Sometimes, we carry a lot more inside and that weight can be much heavier and harder to handle. 

A lot of conversations on thru hikes and on pilgrimages like the Camino de Santiago – consciously or not – revolve around the stuff we carry with us inside.  Our thoughts, our memories, our regrets, our fears, our pasts, our hopes, and our prayers.  The simple fact is, that we all carry these things with us, we are all navigating through life trying to deal with our own baggage, and we are all trying to make sense of things.   Those who are lucky are the ones who can more easily sort things out, deal with or dispense with the burdens, and keep on moving.  Some however, find themselves stuck in a moment, trapped in their memories, or constantly navigating through the challenges of their past and the world and are unable to bring things to a resolution - and so they continue on carrying a load that never seems to lighten.

As those who know us or who have followed along know that Sean has been ill for the past few years. At times his hands start shaking for no reason, or he collapses with severe abdominal cramps, gets blinding headaches, crippling chest pains, the blood vessels in his left eye will often burst and more recently in the past year his teeth have become horridly sensitive to the point that he can’t eat and even the feeling of breath can be painful to him.  To try to find out what is wrong we have spent years bouncing between emergency rooms, hospitals, walk in clinics (we have never been able to get a family doctor), and more recently medical specialists.  Each of whom have provided differing, conflicting, and sometimes terrifying diagnosis without any consensus or any means to resolve the situation.   He has been told that that these issues are everything from simple food poisoning, to a pulled muscle,  to stomach cancer, to MS, to needing several root canals, to recently being advised to exercise and walk more (heaven help us).  Several weeks ago however, he was sent to a new specialist who was kind enough to listen, review all the information and who came to a single, simple potential conclusion.  Namely given the breadth of tests Sean has been put through there was and is – thankfully - nothing physically wrong with him which means that it is entirely possible that all of these rotating ailments are instead result of stress, anxiety and his own uncertainties.  As the doctor wisely noted, ‘where the mind goes the body soon follows….”.

Uncertainty and finding Common Ground again

While his direct challenges and anxieties are his own particular obstacles to deal with, his general situation is by no means unique.  As recent as 14 months ago (pre-Covid) each of us had a distinct purpose, a rhythm to our lives, and daily routines which often relied upon what could be expected, what we took to be ‘normal’, and what we felt we could rely upon as ‘certain’.  Since then many of our expectations and our perspectives have changed dramatically over the course of the global pandemic and the resulting lockdowns.  About all any of us know for sure was that at one point we knew our way and then at another very little seemed certain.

Adding to the immediate situation many of us began working from home or lost our jobs and so were given a great deal of time to reflect, to wonder, and to be honest with ourselves.  In the process so many people seem to have become increasingly frustrated and anxious about the world, what others think or do, how things are done, and their place in it.    This isn’t surprising, given the tensions of the pandemic and the constant bombardment of news and online commentary which make it very easy to doubt even the most self-evident of truths, and question what we hold in common. The world seems to have transformed (as a fellow hiker recently shared) from ‘I think therefore I am’ into ‘I believe therefore I am right’.   The online world in particular seems to be a feeding frenzy of vitriol, frustration, and unproductive commentary – which seems to be increasingly wearing off on each of us.  

It has gotten to the point that we have divided ourselves and our communities into set camps of thought with little room for differing voices or opinions.  We must now be all one thing or another and most of all we must distain at the top of our voices those who hold any opinion other than our own.  So many think that it is perfectly reasonable to utter hatreds, to wish violence on those whom they don’t even know, or undermine the hopes of those just setting out by sending threatening emails. Because the commentary continues it is easy to think that we now live in a world of all against all.   But the simple fact is that in the real world – the world not online and that is face to face – isn’t actually like this.   Despite our doubts, hesitations, and critiques, the fact is that our common ground is still there.  It just needs, once again, to be experienced and remembered.  Something which I think (and hope) is now much easier to do away from our screens, 24 hour cable news, and wifi connections.  

If the past year has taught me anything it’s that our greatest concerns and personal anxieties often stem from, and reflect, the manufactured frustrations of the online world.  Perhaps the most dangerous part of the present moment is not another wave of Covid, but the possibility that the temperament of the digital world and online forums will begin to indelibly shape how we perceive and interact with the real world.  That we will come to believe that “all is known” because “everything can be Googled”, or that because some believe one thing it means that one view is absolutely right and that all others are wrong, or that there is no room for another perspective. 

The reality is however, that this can only happen if we allow ourselves to set aside the common sense and wisdom that each of us regularly gain from lived experiences – those moments we experience for ourselves in the outdoors, in nature, working in our trades, and physically being with our friends and family.   It is in the doing and living that we are reminded of our common ground as caring, supportive and empathetic Canadians.  

In a comment which seems well suited to the post-Covid world, I am reminded of a quote from John Muir when he observed that at present, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life. Awakening from the stupefying effects of the vice of over-industry and the deadly apathy of luxury, they are trying as best they can to mix and enrich their own little ongoings with those of Nature, and to get rid of rust and disease.” (Our National Parks)

As our final days of our third quarantine come to a conclusion, now that we have gotten our vaccines, provincial borders are reopening and people are beginning to return to the world I have the sense many of us will find that getting back outdoors and into nature will restore our sense of common purpose, reaffirm our feelings of mutual respect, and affirm the common ground which we all hold sacred.  In spending time away from our screens – those digital bastions which we have come to consult daily during the pandemic – we will find that “in going out one is actually going in" - and that all of those fears, frustrations and anxieties which have built up in each of us will dissipate in the face of lived experiences and the sounds of the woods. 

It is time to spend more time wandering and less time wondering.

Here is to hoping that things get better as we again set out - hopefully were the body goes so too can the mind follow, and find peace.


 

 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Lessons from our Third Quarantine

Having now spent more than 45 days in Quarantine in 2021 (April in Quebec City, May in Toronto Ontario, and now June in Winnipeg Manitoba) we have come to realize a number of things and thought to share our experiences.  Not those endless moments of reading and re-reading the few books we were stuck with, or those days filled with Netflix, or evenings filled with planning and re-planning our future treks.  Instead we sought to share those lessons we learned. 

 

Lesson 1 : You can NEVER have too many of BBC / PBS Mysteries.  I know now that I could survive watching Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Poirot, Midsomer Murders or Miss Scarlet and the Duke series. Additionally I could very happily live watching Laurence Fox as the ‘dishy’ DS Hathaway in Inspector Lewis, Shaun Evans as the young DC Morse in Endeavour, or James Norton in the Grantchester Mysteries.  Nature is amazing, but a good British mystery is almost as good.  If I am stuck in quarantine again I intend to make sure that my house/lodgings/hotel/prison cell has either PBS or BBC - which also bring the advantage of periodically getting to hear the inspire voice of Sir David Attenborough who could narrate anything and I would follow along with rapt attention!

Lesson 2 : Get a hotel with a balcony or at the very least get a room with a window that opens.  Recycled air after 24 hours is bad, after 14 days you feel simply horrid, after 45 days visions of nature and freedom set in. 

Lesson 3 : Make sure to have treats you enjoy when you go in because living on Skip the Dishes, Subway delivery, and hotel service is unpleasant after the first 2 days.  I began to crave fresh vegetables about 36 hours into quarantine and I have come to see that my definition of fresh versus the delivery version of fresh are very very different.  More than ever I have come to know that takeout food plays havoc with your mind and body.  I have never felt mentally or physically worse in my life than after more than a month on takeout food.  

Lesson 4 : I have come to increasingly appreciate those who took the time to reach out, send a message of support, emails of encouragement, and simply notes of kindness during the 45 days we spent in isolation.  In short – while snarky posts, critical commentary, and witty ‘takedowns’ seem to be the thing online.  The truth is that in the real world, people help one another all the time and kindness still very much matters.  And so, what we do with our time matters.  Happiness comes in ensuring that we are each making a positive contribution to the world.  Time and and life are so fleeting so we need to make the most of the time we have. 

Lesson 5 : Despite everything that we have faced in the past 14-16 months we are still here.  What this means is that despite the challenges we face, the truth is that we can all adapt to any situation.  Times might be tough, we might feel overwhelmed and it might be vogue to complain and rant but the truth is that we have met the pandemic of the modern age head on and – as a society – gotten through it.  That in itself is a pretty great feeling, because if we can deal with this then we can deal with pretty much anything else and the skies are the limit.  

Lesson 6 : In the words of Dana Scully from the X-Files, “the internet is bad for you”.  I now believe this more than ever!  The 24/7 news cycle, social media, TV and (at times) constant connection that email gives us makes one feel worse not better.  It is hard to admit being a lifetime scientist, but having more news and more ‘opinions’ isn’t always the best of things in the world. In fact after hearing people rant, rave, and hypothesize about every change to the weather for over a month I am pretty sure we are now drowning in opinions – most of which are pretty darn bad.  Worse, is that after watching TV for an hour and hearing the same commercials every 5 minutes I begin to worry about things that I never worried about before.  I feel like TV, news, and commercials are programming me and the results are scary,  I realized early on in my first quarantine I didn’t want to have the fears that corporations and others wanted me to have.  More than ever I am positive that the key to happiness is lived experiences and time in nature.  

Bonus Lesson 7 : The world is actually amazing, people are kinder than you think, and there is tons to explore and be grateful for.  We each need to work on being less critical, remember the common ground that we share, listen to each other more, and embark upon positive work in our communities.  Go experience life, don't watch it!



Monday, June 14, 2021

The Wonder of Train Travel : Heading West Pt. II

This morning we awoke feeling our age.  We used to travel between Vancouver and Halifax all the time in our university days, sleeping curled up in our economy class seats for up to four nights in a row, and emerging on the other end of the journey ready for adventure.  As last night progressed, the clear skies turned to rain in Hornepayne, we woke at the stops in the many small towns and Indigenous communities in northern Ontario, and we quickly realized our legs and necks are no longer willing to remain curled up all night without lodging persistent complaints.  We figured one night wasn't worth the price difference, but if we're ever fortunate enough to make the amazing journey across the entire country again by train, a sleeper berth will definitely be worthwhile.   

 Nonetheless, we enjoyed waking up and seeing the Boreal forest slipping quietly past the windows in the early morning light.  Many small lakes and rivers, their surfaces ruffled by a slight breeze and their shores unmarked by human habitation meandered across the landscape.  Rocks covered in a thick carpet of light green lichen lay beneath endless stands of black and white spruce trees, their tall, narrow bodies standing tightly packed together.  Every so often we passed a recently logged area, where piles of broken slash lay partially obscured by one or two years of shrubby growth and a few tall seed trees were left like sentries standing guard over the carnage of a lost battle. In other areas we witnessed the scars left by forest fires, where stands of naked white trunks covered with the charred black remnants of bark were all that was left.  


As the day progressed the sun came out and we continued our passage between the lakes and trees. In several ponds we saw beavers swimming industriously past.  The glossy red head of a white-tailed deer peered from behind a rocky outcropping while a huge black Common Raven perched on a bleached snag in the marsh nearby.   The train's whistle startled a Red-breasted Merganser and her brood of a dozen chicks away from the shore, and around midday, as a small storm cloud raced across the sky and briefly pelted rain, we spotted a Bald Eagle majestically surveying its lake from atop a lone white pine.  A female moose splashing through the waters away from the train, and then a second moose bounding across a lush green marsh were definite wildlife highlights. 


As the hours passed and we remained in the stunningly beautiful Boreal landscape we were reminded of a question asked by a small English boy who was travelling across Canada with his mother.  When he was told that he had to see more of Canada before he was allowed to play video games he asked 'But mum, how many trees is enough?'  Canada really is big, as we're discovering first hand. 


We spent many happy hours watching the Boreal slip past.  This essential landscape provides much of North America's clean air and water, and it is known as Canada's Bird Nursery, because 3-5 billion birds are born there every year.  Although we don't know what 'normal' looks like, many of the lakes we passed yesterday looked like their water levels were 2-3 ft below where they usually should be.  It is yet another reminder that we need to act now to prevent climate change from destroying this incredibly important and beautiful landscape.  

As we crossed the border into Manitoba the train made a stop in Brereton, which we walked through last year on the Trans Canada Trail.  Around half an hour later the trees began to get smaller and shrubbier, the land grew flatter, and more open stretches began to appear between the stands of trees.  Then just like that, from one concession to the next, the rolling treed landscape changed to flat agricultural land.  We had again moved from the Canadian Shield into the Prairies. 

As we approached Winnipeg we looked out at the vast, open landscape we will walk through for the next 3,000 km.  It has taken us about 35 hours to cover the ground it took us 4.5 months to walk last year.  At this point, that is a sobering thought. 


It was a beautiful summer evening when we disembarked in Winnipeg.  We are back in the center of the continent, at the point where we left the trail last year.  After waiting eight months to get underway again, public health regulations in Manitoba require that even those Ontarians who are vaccinated wait another 14 days in quarantine.  It is a small piece to pay for the privilege of walking across this beautiful country.  We can't wait. 


 



Saturday, June 12, 2021

2021 : Heading West Again...

For months we've been longing to venture beyond the now overly familiar trails and green spaces of our own neighborhood.  We've yearned to escape the mechanical sounds of city life, to once again smell the tangy scent of sun soaked forests and freshwater lakes on the breeze, to exchange the feel of concrete beneath our feet for the crunch of gravel or the springy softness of a wilderness footpath, and to feel the thrill of exploration and movement once again.  Now that the moment has finally, finally arrived, it feels like we're emerging from the protective cocoon of an insulated, climate controlled, slightly too comfortable shell, where all sensations were slightly dimmed, and all news of the outside world was carefully mediated by screens.  

As we take our first tentative steps back out into the world again, blinking in the blinding light of the midsummer sunshine, it feels almost audacious to hope that the lockdowns and travel restrictions are truly behind us now, and no more backtracking will be necessary on this long road to recovery and a post-pandemic world.  The signs are encouraging. Many Canadian provinces are meeting their Covid 19 vaccination targets early, and are beginning to re-open with few restrictions.  As we set out for the third season of our #hike4birds, all the available seats on the VIA Rail train to Toronto were full.  Even on a Sunday morning, there was a line-up at the Starbucks in Toronto's Union Station, the main transit hub for Canada's largest city, which was nearly deserted during our visit one year ago.  We've seen more smiles behind the masks in the past few days than we've seen in ages.  Very slowly the uncertainty of the past 15 months is being replaced with hope and trust that finally feels stronger than the whispers of new variants and a fourth wave of the pandemic.  Only time will tell, but our fingers are crossed that good things are in store for the rest of this year! 


In Toronto we boarded The Canadian, VIA Rail's Train No.1, bound for Vancouver.  Our debate about whether to head to Quebec or Manitoba continued until two days ago, just two short days after our Provincial lockdown ended, when we finally decided to simply continue heading west and figure the rest of the logistics out as we go. Our adventures in 2021 will begin where we left off eight long months ago - in Winnipeg, Manitoba. 

 


If all goes well, it should take the train 35 hours to reach Winnipeg - a distance it took us 108 days to walk last year on the Trans Canada Trail.  The mournful sound of the train's whistle, and its gentle swaying and rocking motion brings back wonderful memories of past cross-country train trips we took in our youth, when summer rail passes were cheaper.  

 

                                                    (Via Rail Images from 2000-2005)

The gorgeous pink granite, deep blue lakes, and lush green forests of the Canadian Shield bring back memories of the deep puddles, streams, swamps, overgrown trails, and stunningly beautiful landscapes we navigated last year around Bracebridge and Huntsville.  Seeing this familiar landscape once again, but from a different perspective, makes us give thought to what lies ahead. 


Beginning a new adventure is always very exciting, but also a little unnerving.  Each year on the Trans Canada Trail has been a completely different experience for us.  The landscape, culture, and trail conditions were different in the Maritimes than in Ontario, and they will be different again in the Prairies.  None of the story about this year's trek has been written yet.  At this moment we can only imagine the great times and hope we survive the difficult ones.  

We carry with us warnings about droughts, fires, ticks, tornadoes, high levels of post-pandemic anger and frustration, and what will hopefully be misconceptions about the mental and emotional stamina required to cross the 'Canadian Meseta.'  We also bring the anticipation of stunning skies, wide open spaces, grassland landscapes that few people who don't live in them take the time to appreciate, and a whole suite of new bird species.  We may be heading out two months later than we'd hoped, but it's time to begin!



Friday, June 11, 2021

Since we last met.....

It has been 8 long months since we were last really on the Trans Canada Trail in 2020.  While we have ventured on the TCT some in Simcoe and St. Thomas Ontario, it has not for extended distances or periods.  In April we had sought to head back out onto the trail in Quebec, but the third wave of Covid set in and it no longer became responsible to be out there.  Then, we had our moment of supreme doubt when we started to receive waves of hateful emails with several people treatening us and demanding that we quit.  It was at this point that we came closer than ever to simply walking away from this expedition.  Doubt is a challenging adversary, self doubt is even worse.

Then time, distance, and the world seemed to transform around us.  While ultimately we received 127 emails of hate we received more than 500 messages of support and encouragement via our blog, facebook, instagram and our inbox.  The truth (that we came to remember) was that there will always be those who critique and hate, but there are far far far more amazing Canadians that are kind and supportive.  Because of those generous souls who have helped us, encouraged us, and supported us were able to continue on. 

So the questions naturally are, what has happened since we were last on the trail? What comes next on our trek?  Where are we set to in 2021?  We finally have those answers....

I sit here writing this while on the Via Rail train travelling from Toronto back to Manitoba in order to…..first quarantine (our 3rd this year) and then resume our trek across Canada on the Trans Canada Trail (formerly the Great Trail, formerly formerly the Trans Canada Trail). Travelling across Canada on the train is a wondrous experience.  It affords the traveler an amazing view of the country, from a luxurious seat amid friendly companions and crew.   

While those who have never taken the train from coast to coast might think that such a mode of transit does not allow passengers to take in the landscapes of the nation however the reality is that the pace of the train and its pension to frequently take long stops on sides or wait for cargo trains to pass in fact means that travelers are given long periods to get very familiar with the varied regions of county.  In almost 20 years of riding this same train back and forth between Toronto and Vancouver, as well as its counterpart from Montreal to Halifax we have spent many hours and sometimes several days in wonderful communities such as Capreol, Gogama, Hornepayne, Sioux Lookout, Malachi, Portage la Prairie, Melville, Biggar,  Jasper, and Kamloops.   Like our own trek, Via Rail’s Canadian is not a venture for those in a hurry but instead an amazing experience for those who want to savor the moment. Even when the train is moving, its pace is more stately than rushed and even those more accustomed to a rapid form of transit are soon lulled by the rhythmic sounds of the ties beneath the wheels and rock of the carriages.  Travelling in this manner has always been a wonder for us.  The natural diversity and scale of the country are made evident by the fact that the trip takes days rather than hours - a fact that often stuns European travellers.  

This trip, our first on the Canadian in almost 7 years, shakes loose memories from the Trans Canada Trail itself.  The railbeds of hard blast gravel remind us of Newfoundland’s T’Railway trail, which we experienced at the outset of our adventure.  The frequent piles of wooden ties and metal rails scene at the side of the tracks remind us of the number of railtrails which we have traversed in Canada since 2019, and the seemingly endless landscapes remind us that while we have already come so far, there are still vast distances to go which by their very nature cannot be rushed through.  It is humbling to watch the kilometers speed by at times, so much so that our trip from Toronto to Manitoba will take about 30 hours compared to the 108 number of days it took us to trek that same distance in 2020.   Yet this seeming haste suits us this year as it means that we are finally ‘getting on with it’.  

 

Owing to the realities of the year and slowly concluding pandemic, the delays over the past 14 months have been felt most keenly.  To watch the cool weather of spring pass by has been a challenge.  It now means that our trekking across the heart of the country, in the prairie provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan will be undertaken in the extreme heat and humidity of the summer months.  There will be far more 30-40 degree days and very few 15-20 degree days as we cross the heart of the nation.   It also means that old hopes of trekking from Winnipeg to the west coast have had to be set aside.  So the Pacific Ocean will be our goal in 2022 not 2021.  Such is life, you adapt and continue on. 

Since we left the Trans Canada Trail last October we have sought to continue our outreach and inspire youth to reconnect to nature through birding and citizen science. Thankfully we have been able to continue to connect with nature groups and hiking organizations across the nation during our time away from this hike. 

In our time off we have produced videos on trekking the East Coast Trail in 2018 as well as our trek across Ontario in 2020. 

And we have begun to resort images and draft our first of many provincial photo books starting in Newfoundland - which owing to the natural beauty of the region is no easy task.  

We have received a number of amazing trail memorabilia and even donations in our name to support the Trans Canada Trail!    

We have also begun to write out to TCT volunteers and trail builders to ask them to share their stories of developing the world’s longest pathway to be included in a future project of ours. Sean has begun researching the history and development of the Trans Canada Trail as we both feel there is a need to tell the story of the dedication of all the volunteers and trail builders who made this improbable pathway possible.

We have been fortunate to be recognized by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society as a Major Expedition and been granted the privilege of carrying RCGS Flag #5 in 2021!

So far, we have already ‘enjoyed’ 2 rounds of Quarantine totaling 30 days in isolation between Quebec and Ontario, while also getting our vaccinations and waiting for the conclusion of the third wave of Covid in Canada. 

In addition to which, we have given more than two dozen free nature presentations, podcasts, and interviews since leaving the trail in 2020.  We have chatted with Eh Canada Travel, the Women’s Portrait Project, She Inspires Me, the Universal Women’s Network, been featured by Canadian Geographic, and been interviewed for Hip Camp as well as ExploreWeb.

In the process I have also been honored to have been nominated as an advocate for diversity in the outdoors and accessibility to nature as well as for our message which strives to inspire youth to reconnect to nature through Citizen Science in a number of forums.  Indeed I have been featured in the INSPIRE: Women’s Portrait Project, recorded a talk with She Inspires Me, been interviewed for several articles including those from backpacking and ornithological publications to tourism and travel magazines.

In addition to which I have been nominated for the Canadian Museum of Nature’s Nature Inspiration Award.

I have also been nominated for the Universal Women’s NetworkInspire Award and been supported to have my venture included in their book to be published in the fall of 2021.

For my outreach I have been nominated as one of the Top 100 of Canada’s Most Powerful Women.

I was also asked to write an article for Canadian Geographic (how cool is that) on how the pandemic has affected our trek on the Trans Canada Trail.  

In addition to which Sean has been nominated to become a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society for his contributions of making Canada better known to Canadians as the Expedition Photographer on ‘Come Walk With Us’ and his photography of the nation and its wildlife. 

This year our blog and travel writing has also led us to be named as one of Canada's top travel and hiking blogs!

 

We have also begun collaborating with Eh Canada Travel as a Canadian Travel Adventure Seeker, and are helping the Universal Women’s Network to encourage young ladies to excel, become explorers, scientists, innovators, and the next generation of environmental stewards as well as community leaders.

And not to be outdone we have received an amazing box of new trail swag from the Trans Canada Trail - owing to their name change and cool updated logo - to help us out along the way!

While all of this is amazing, the reality (as many of you know) is that amid everything not all has been  well.  We have shared a few of the less crass emails and messages that we have received our trek regarding our message, and goals.  And thankfully at our darkest moments, we received hundreds of supportive emails as well as a very generous letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau encouraging us onward!

As we head back out onto the Trans Canada Trail (after our next round of quarantine)….this time in Manitoba we are excited to continue westward to see what the prairies have to offer in terms of experiences, nature, and of course birds!  Regardless of all that has transpired in the past 14 months we as Canadians have overcome the challenges, are now vaccinated and ready to return to the outdoors!

Since spring and the onset of bird migration season I have constantly heard the call of the wild, the pull of the outdoors, and the desire to again feel the trail under my feet.  While our plans have been subject to constant revision the fact is that it is time to get going again.  

There is no denying that Covid has altered the flow of this hike from being an uninterrupted trek from East to West, to having to temporarily set aside the province of Quebec, deal with quarantine (x3), get vaccinations and endure increasing online critiques.  However it has also brought a lot of people back to nature, increased the number of persons interested in exploring Canada, and inspired tons of individuals to get into birding!  So all in all I would say that the sun is shining again and the trail is calling once more.

Since last we met the world has changed, but nature is still there beckoning us to return.   Hopefully with all the wonders yet to see and share we can convince you all to ‘Come Walk With Us’ once again…..