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Crossing Canada for the birds: Simcoe woman sold her house, started walking to share passion for nature

Sonya Richmond has worn via 5 pairs of climbing boots in three years. That tends to occur if you spend your days strolling throughout Canada.

After practically a decade as an analyst with Birds Canada in Norfolk County, Richmond determined to take to the air on her personal cross-country quest to get Canadians enthusiastic about nature.

She offered her home in Simcoe in 2019 and headed to Cape Spear, Nfld., along with her accomplice, Sean Morton, to begin a 28,000-kilometre journey that has, to this point, seen the couple cross eight provinces on foot and provides greater than 100 talks about birding and citizen science.

“We’re making an attempt to encourage individuals to reconnect with nature,” Richmond mentioned.

Particularly, she hopes to get tech-obsessed youngsters off their units and into the outside “to show among the display screen time to inexperienced time.”

One of the best ways to begin, she mentioned, is to search for.

"It is a privilege to be out here," said Sonya Richmond, seen here hiking the Trans Canada Trail near Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland. "This country is absolutely beautiful. It's one thing after another that's just amazing."

“Birds are mainly free. Regardless of the place you reside or who you’re, you may go exterior and also you’ll see or hear one chicken,” Richmond mentioned.

“Even in the event you can’t go exterior, you may have a chicken feeder and take a look at it via the window, and you’ve got that connection to nature.”

After climbing greater than 10,500 kilometres in 450 days, Richmond and Morton are motivated to proceed their self-funded journey by the “overwhelmingly optimistic” suggestions they get from fellow hikers and folks they meet at their displays.

They usually stroll six days every week, toting backpacks that weigh between 40 and 60 kilos, relying on how a lot meals and water they’ve.

“We don’t eat very nicely,” Richmond mentioned with fun.

They store at grocery shops after they can, however in any other case rely on snacks from fuel stations. When tenting within the woods, it’s a gentle eating regimen of oatmeal, rice and beans, sweetened by wild strawberries and blackberries.

The couple had accomplished a number of long-distance hikes earlier than tackling the longest leisure path on this planet.

Walking across Canada has given Sonya Richmond the chance to see birds she had only read about through her work at Birds Canada. She was especially delighted to spot this American white pelican, one of North America's biggest birds, in eastern Manitoba.

On relaxation days, they recharge their digicam batteries and submit updates to social media and their website, ComeWalkWithUs.online.

Richmond spoke with The Spectator by telephone in Ottawa whereas ready for a practice to take her to a Canadian Wildlife Federation awards ceremony in Prince Edward Island.

The federation lately named Richmond its Canadian Outdoorsperson of the Year in recognition of her work to advertise conservation and encourage Canadians to grow to be stewards of the atmosphere.

Richmond known as the award “extremely humbling.”

“I see it as recognition of our objectives and our message, and that’s actually encouraging to me,” she mentioned.

She is especially excited that her journey will get her speaking to Canadians of all ages and from all walks of life, permitting her to achieve past her regular spheres of academia and authorities.

“To create greater change, all of us have to pitch in,” Richmond mentioned. “It could actually’t simply be a handful of scientists or a handful of presidency staff. It must be everybody.”

The couple will subsequent choose up the path on the Saskatchewan-Alberta border, with plans to achieve the Pacific Ocean at Victoria, B.C., by mid-October.

Richmond said Canada has proven to be endlessly surprising when seen step by step. "No place has been what we expected it to be," she said, citing as an example the rolling hills of Saskatchewan, which are easy to miss when driving through the province.

As soon as the snow falls, they may head to Morton’s hometown of London, Ont., the place Richmond does contract scientific work — and impatiently waits to get off the pc and again on the path.

After the spring thaw, they may begin north to their remaining vacation spot of Tuktoyaktuk, Nunavut.

“Relying on forest fires, floods, climate, the whole lot else,” Richmond mentioned.

The pandemic pressured the couple to skip over Quebec when that province tightened its borders, and as an alternative hike via Ontario and Manitoba in 2020. They doubled again to Quebec this spring.

“Each season has been shorter than we initially deliberate,” Richmond mentioned. “We needed to look ahead to the lockdowns to finish.”

However she mentioned the expertise of staying inside to cease the unfold of COVID-19 made individuals throughout the county hungry for the outside.

“Now that there’s this curiosity in nature, we have to maintain growing that and maintain it alive,” Richmond mentioned.

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