The Sault Star (Canada), Aug. 5, 2003
By LINDA RICHARDSON
Bhaktimarga Swami is on the road again.
Seven years after he walked across Canada, the 50-year-old Hare Krishna monk is again on a cross-country trek.
But unlike his 1996 journey, when he traversed Canada from the west coast to the east coast, this year he is going in the other direction.
Swami began his trek May 3 at Cape Spear, Nfld., and by Sunday was taking a break at Ojibway Park, just east of Sault Ste. Marie.
“This is momentous. I’ve reached 3,500 kilometres,’’ he said, after walking 25 kms that morning in his saffron-coloured robes and running shoes.
To beat the heat and the heavy highway traffic, his days usually begin at 4 a.m. and he covers 45 kms daily.
The Chatham, Ont., native describes his journey as a “spiritual healing walk for Canada’’ and a way to celebrate reaching the half-century mark.
His pilgrimage for the country’s well-being is a “friend-raiser not a fundraiser.’’
Swami said he wants to encourage people to walk more, to go car-free and “take a little more time to smell the roses.’’
“We’ve become conditioned that we have to buy some big fancy toy, when we just have to put on a pair of shoes and we will get recreation.’’
The next leg of his trek takes him north of the Sault, around the shore of Lake Superior to Thunder Bay.
“This stretch is a beautiful part of the country and it’s the right time of the year being here,’’ Swami said. “I’m really looking forward to it.’’
Asked for a highlight of his 2003 trip, he pointed to the day he stopped highway traffic to escort a snapping turtle across the highway.
“This is such a vast country and you feel very small,’’ he said. “But beyond every hill and the horizon there is something new to look at.’’
During this cross-country trek, he says he’s trying to avoid the Trans Canada Highway and wherever possible he’s taking old highways and more scenic river routes.
“Traffic can be very nauseous.’’
In 1996, he covered 8,500 kms in 210 days and wore out four pairs of running shoes.
He expects to reach the west coast at the end of November.
Swami said he embarked on this second walk with a lot more confidence.
“There’s was a lot of uncertainty the first time, wondering if you’re going to be able to do it. Now having done it once before I feel it’s OK.’’
Swami is a monk of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, better known as the Hare Krishnas.