Monday, June 23, 2008
Sometimes serendipity happens too. On Saturday at the indispensable North Sydney Library, where we collect and ship email and pursue our miscellaneous Internet preoccupations, we crossed paths with Dana Meise [pronounced 'MY-zee'], just arrived on the ferry Smallwood after spending 47 days completing the Newfoundland portion of a cross-Canada walk. We are very impressed with pals Mary, Mike & Mark who are embarked on a similar transcontinental odyssey, albeit on bicycles; to cross the country on foot, alone, seems all the more astonishing. Carrying as much as a hundred pounds on his back and averaging 35 to 40 kilometres on each walking day, he actually trudged 65 km to complete the last leg of the Newfoundland slog. Imagine it.
Dana is a 33-year-old forestry technician from Prince George following his bliss from east to west. Our 3xM pals are doing it in the opposite direction. They have been at it for about the same length of time and have already progressed deeply into the blackfly-infested wilds of northern Ontario. Dana has a long way to go. To give him a break from the tent we invited him to spend a night with us at the Big Bras d'Or cabin. He arrived after nightfall -- under his own power of course -- and entertained us with accounts of his Newfoundland adventures. And tales of time spent in the bush west of Prince George with a grandfather who lived off the land on moose, deer, bear and what he grew in his own garden.
When it comes to facing a big challenge his granddad taught Dana that "if you work hard, it comes easy". Dana is walking the country simply because it's a big challenge he has wanted to do for a long time. His night at Big Bras d'Or turned into a rest day during which he entertained us with accounts of his adventures with bears in the wilds of British Columbia and Alberta and his happy encounters with fascinating Newfoundlanders, both human and not. Sharing a stretch of the Trans-Canada Trail with an unworried lynx was one highlight, meeting Newfoundland legendary railway historian Mont Lingard another.
It was a great treat for us to befriend a young guy who is not just a marvel of determination and grit but reflects a positive attitude towards people that we all -- maybe I particularly -- would do well to emulate. We said our farewells this morning, Dana having to submit to a short ride across the Seal Island bridge. No walker, not even one embarked on a Great Hike across the country, is allowed to walk across the Seal Island bridge.
Happy walking, Forrest Gump.
Dana Meise's blog: