SPRUCE WOODS PROVINCIAL PARK — Sean Morton and Sonya Richmond had enough of working behind a desk, surrounded by concrete.
"We reached a point where we were sick of working behind desks," Morton said on the side of Highway 5, just north of Spruce Woods Provincial Park.
So, they quit their jobs, sold their house in southern Ontario, donated most of their belongings and hit the dusty trail.
The Trans Canada Trail, to be exact.
Morton taught at a small university and Richmond quit her job as a geographic information system analyst, creating award-winning bird Atlases and publishing her research.
They literally unplugged.
In June 2019, they struck out on the trail to draw attention the amount of time youth spend on screens and the need to reconnect with nature and the country and become environmental stewards through Morton’s photography and Richmond’s extensive knowledge.
Their goal is to reconnect people with nature through conservation of birds and important habitats across Canada.
On Saturday, the two were found along the side of Highway 5 in 35 C heat, reflective umbrellas attached to their heads for shade, pulling gear packed in knapsacks on ultralight wheeled frames.
"I have 75 pounds of camera gear and Sonya’s pulling the food, and camping gear," Morton said.
The pair started at Cape Spear, N.L., Canada’s most easterly point. The plan is to complete the 27,000-kilometre trek across the Trans Canada Trail by 2022 while taking winters off.
"We had a schedule we tried to stick to," Morton said. But as they took in the spectacular landscape, their progress slowed down considerably.
"We’re supposed to be done," he said with a chuckle.
So far, the pair have received a warm reception from Manitobans.
"The world isn’t as tough as the media shows," Morton said. "There’s a lot of good in the world."
As they make their way to Victoria, B.C., Morton documents their journey through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and a blog.
They are carrying the Canadian flag for Canadian Geographic and have received support from the prime minister.
"We want to show Canadians their country," Morton said. "We want to tell the story as we see it.
"It’s been a real privilege to do the walk, get the grant and meet Canadians."
Canadian Geographic awarded the pair with a small grant to help with the journey
In a YouTube video, Richmond can be heard saying her goal is to inspire people of all ages, physical abilities, cultural background orientations and identities to get outside, explore, discover, learn and reconnect with nature through birds and citizen science.
"We’re all connected in Canada through our trailways," she said.
The couple have hiked roughly four Camino trails overseas and are currently planning to hike Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., to complete the journey of the 27,000-kilometre trail, the longest recreational trail in the world.
"Fewer people have completed this journey than have gone to the moon," Richmond notes in the video.
"We wanted to have an adventure, but we wanted to inspire others."
To follow the couple’s adventures, #Hike4Birds, check out: