A man from Scotland has embarked on a walking journey across Canada to raise funds for a forest in his home country.
Michael Yellowlees of Dunkeld and Birnham, Scotland, left Tofino last week and will spend the next seven months walking a marathon a day until he reaches Newfoundland and Labrador.
Yellowlees and his Husky dog Luna arrived in Port Alberni the morning of Friday, March 5 in a deluge of rain. They had already been on the road for four days.
“I’ve been walking from Tofino to Port Alberni for the last few days and taking snaps as I go. People back home are very much commenting, it’s so similar (to Scotland), in your landscape and also your weather right now,” he said.
Yellowlees is recognizable—when he’s not covered head to toe in a rain poncho—by his distinctive red beard and his kilt.
Yellowlees is a veteran of long walks, having trekked across India on a personal journey in 2017. He has been in Canada for eight months, and admits that he has romanticized what it will be like to walk from coast to coast.
“It was almost a romantic notion; Tofino is known as the end of the road. I liked the sound of that,” he said. “Also with what I’m doing, it has a bit of a metaphor to it, because we’re talking about the end of the road in regard to the environment. We need to do stuff about this now.”
While he admits there’s a “touch of madness” to attempting such a trek during a pandemic and in a foreign country, he is doing it for a cause: to help Trees for Life, which is trying to restore the Caledonian Forest that once stretched from coast to coast across Scotland. The ancient pinewood forest was formed at the end of the last ice age, and its unique ecosystem is almost eradicated.
Yellowlees is raising money online and writing about his journey on social media. He is travelling with a guitar, and often starts or ends his days with a song he posts on Facebook.
“Although I’m doing this for my own corner of the world in Scotland, it’s very apt across the board here, especially in Canada that we’ve got to be looking after what we’ve got. I’m trying to experience what you have here in regards to your wilderness.
“Please look after what you’ve got here. That’s what we’re striving for in Scotland.”
The distance from Tofino to Newfoundland is approximately 5,000 kilometres. Yellowlees thinks it will take him seven months to walk across the country, based on walking a marathon a day (42 kms or 26.2 miles).
“It’s going to take me a goodly while. I’m hoping I’m going to manage it before winter comes next year.”
Yellowlees is pushing a small hand truck with his guitar and some supplies. Luna will be his constant companion while on the road. He acquired Luna after working for a few months with a sleddog operation in Banff before coming to Tofino, where he spent four months.
He was working at the Tofino Botanical Gardens before he left.
Yellowlees had raised $4,000 by the time he and Luna made it to Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal as of Monday morning, March 8, to continue their journey east.
Follow Yellowlees’ journey across Canada on Facebook at Michael and Luna — A Rewilding Journey. Anyone wishing to contribute to Yellowlees’ journey can do so at justgiving.com/fundraising/michaelandlunarewild.
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