Friday, 27 June 2014

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Harrison Mills, British Columbia

Start of the Valley

It was breakfast time.  We were breakfast.  Mosquitoes were out in full force and Karuna and I were the natural target.  There were no other humans visible to take on in the out of doors along the highway.  We survived, even though deprived of our Burt’s Bees herbal insect repellant. 

In the Fraser Valley, temperatures were in the low 30 Celcius, quite hot for continued walking.  At break time, one god brother (classmate of the same guru) had invited us for lunch.  He goes by the name of Tota Gopinatha; he resides in Chilliwack and has a heroic history.  He became a Krishna monk at age 15.  Eventually he got married and ended up working in the Ministry of Children and Family.  He managed to reach success, even on a grade 6 education, in helping orphans and abused children.  Even though he left monastic life years ago, he maintains a strict level of sadhana (internal exercise) which includes mantra meditation.  He cooks up a great veggie meal for our small Canwalk team.  We were grateful for his blissful company along with his wife, Paulette.

From Tota’s home, we ventured by car to West Star Auto, managed by Tulsi, origins, Mauritius.  He called the local media, Greg from the local paper.  He also called in all of his staff.

“Meet the Walking Monk who can tell you the purpose of life,” he said as I walked in.  Tulsi’s style is curt and cute at the same time, “Take this Gita, read chapter 2.  We are not these bodies.  Learn how to get out of the cycle of birth and death.  The monk will tell you.”

It was instant friendship with his open-minded staff.  The final piece of glory that crowned this day when a couple of Krishna devotees from Vancouver tracked me down to walk some kilometres for the evening shift.  In fact, I was greeted by one of them playing Highlander bagpipes.

May the Source be with you!

36 KM

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Hope, British Columbia

Metaphor on Life

So many artists and poet have sung and written about the travel on the road as a metaphor on life.  You hit low points and valleys and high points and elevation.  You also see the road as a link to destinations where experiences take place.  In many of these places, there’s so little distinction, however, the only difference is in the name.

On the road or the trail there are so many enlightening moments, and sometimes sad ones, as in collision.  God forbid, but it does happen.  Lots of thought processing goes on in the mind of travellers as they are in motion.  For a walker, there’s no exception.  And also in the case of Karuna Sindhu and I who endeavour to keep a spiritual focus.

For the first four hours, he and I met with our first rain in a long time, until we reached the town of Hope.  From there I took solo to Highway 7 and to a distinctive natured culture, the Fraser River Valley.  Motorists along the way were super and friendly.  One trucker saw me earlier on and knowing he would see me further down the road on his return, pulled over, came out of his cab, presented some cold water and a bag of almonds.  He wasn’t much interested in my story or mission, he just wanted to give, to serve someone.  What a big heart.  And special thanks goes to Jiva and Jaya Sri for their gracious company and accommodation in Chilliwack.

May the Source be with you!

36 KM

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Speaking to a parenting group at the Ashnola Indian Reserve

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Hope Slide, British Columbia

Make a Friend

The Kootenay Mountains are way behind us for now.  I had been walking a new mountain range as of very recently – The Cascades.  Every ecosystem of these mountain ranges seems to carry some uniqueness.  The unique feature of where I tread today was the strong presence of different wild flowers.  The rhododendrons really stand out.  The ponderosa pine had for me become conspicuous by its absence.  Everything here is very green.  The Similkameen River had been my amigo for several days.  Now it’s departed and it’s replaced by other streams. 

It was fun to experience the companionship of crows.  It almost seemed that around every other bend in the road, a pair of them (Heckle and Jeckle) would seem to be waiting, watching and squawking.  They would buzz around a bit before taking flight off in some direction, perhaps for the next traveller.  It was my last full day on the Crowsnest Pass.  Perhaps these black feathered dudes were expressing parting words. 

And of humans?  Much interaction.  An older man from France came cycling up a steep hill on destination to the Atlantic.  A biker by the name of Pete bombed up and down the highway passing me by several times, until finally he just had to stop and ask, “What are you doing?”  A couple, Ruth and Paul, were driving, then stopped to find out what my mission is all about.  Corey, a female trucker, blew a tire going eastward on the Crowsnest Pass.  She was stuck on the highway, and was also stuck talking to me about the virtues of walking and spirituality.  It was mutual gain.  Flat tires are often times opportunities for opening up new friendship. 

Friendship is a major component of spiritual life.  If we look at the life of Krishna, He had so many friends.  So make a friend, go for a walk. 

May the Source be with you!

40 KM

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia

Against Green

Against the green mountain backdrop, I appear like a tiny saffron speck, I’m told.  When Karuna joins me on the road with his usually orangey coloured wear, we are two obvious specks.  Although small in dimension, we stand out at a distance.  The only object that might be standing in our way is another mountain, and as the road circumvents these giants, a driver coming around the bend will suddenly see those two specks become bigger and bigger until he passes us by.

I had a conversation with myself this morning, “Am I a speck?  Because I’m certainly not a saffron clad swami or a monk.  The monk is only a position or a role that’s played out.  I’m not these saffron robes either, they are a cover for the body.  And the body is a cover for the soul.  I am a soul, which is a mere speck according to Vedic authority.”

But my conversation with myself continued, “The self, or the atma (Vedic terms), is small, nevertheless, significant.”  I kept thinking, “When I walk along the road, tiniest of bugs may land upon my bald head.  Despite the bugs’ minuteness, I feel his presence significantly, especially if he bites.  Small can be profound, even important.  When we identify with our tiny spirit or soul and we come to the point of service, to the big Spirit from Whom we’ve come, then we become very significant.”

May the Source be with you!

35 KM

Monday, 23 June 2014

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

Princeton, British Columbia


To my recollection, it’s been over forty years since I did some hitchhiking.  In the late sixties to early seventies it was a fad to stick your thumb out appealing for a free ride from some kind motorist.  Anyways, that’s what I did in my teens, in my jeans, with hair and beard. 

Now, seeing the need to get back to our campsite after completing a brisk trek on the Trans Canada Trail over adventurous bridges and under old railway tunnels, I hitched a ride.  I’m a different person  since those youthful adventurous days.  I’m now bald, in robes, and try to carry a smile to look cheerful, even though the body aches. 

The fourth driver to come along showed me mercy.  He said, after I boarded his van, “I saw you, and well, you’ve got to admit, you’re not the ordinary Joe.  In fact, you’re a character, you’re interesting.”

My new friend told me he practiced some Buddhism, implementing some form of solemnity.  But he found that people took advantage of that.  He said he lacked assertiveness when needed.  He’s had to adjust and has sought balance. 

I suggested he be soft like a rose, and hard like a thunderbolt, depending on the situation.  Or, as our guru, Srila Prabhupada, used to say, “Be a lion on the chase, but a lamb at home.”

Anyways, job done.  I got dropped off at the campsite, just in time for Daruka to drive us to Leon, the monk.  Indeed, we drove to his cabin to meet him.  It is a piece of craftsmanship built by himself.  He also employed cow dung that was used at the joints of this octagonal shaped home.  Leon was one of those American boys who avoided the draft for Vietnam recruitment.  He has a profound love for Picasso, and also expressed about the cabin, if it should be challenged by a forest fire one day, “So be it,” was his attitude.  He was very pleasant. 

May the Source be with him!

37 KM

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Hedley, British Columbia

Slight Confusion Over Monks

A pickup truck that was hauling a wagon with fir log pieces pulled over.  The two male occupants came out and obviously mistook me for another monk as I was footing along on the shoulder of the road.  One of the fellows spoke.

“We were wondering if you had some trees we could cut on your land.”

“Sorry, but I’m the walking monk, and I don’t own any land.  You must be talking about this local monk I’ve heard about, Leon is his name?”

“Yeah, that’s him,” said the one man.

“When I came walking through here eight years ago, I heard about a guy living in a cave near Hedley.  I hope to see him one day.”  The two fellows wished me well for the continued trek as they tread their trail on wheels.  They had pointed out the entrance way to the roadway leading to the monk’s current cabin.  I took note.  This was Native reserve land.  I hope to meet Leon either today or tomorrow while in the area with intent to share concepts and traditions. 

With Friday being what it is, traffic thickens.  It is a weekend that has begun.  The sun is upon us and it is a summer solstice, the longest day on the calendar.  I had been looking with envy at the quieter road across the road from the Similkameen River.  Daruka was kind enough to shift me and Karuna to the parallel trail where it was much more pedestrian friendly.  Once we arrived there it was confirmed, yes, this is the path of a slowed down more genuine pace. 

I will rate roads according to the modes.  In our precious text, the Gita, the modes of nature are three in number.  They are sattvic (cautious); rajasic (passion and speed); and finally, tamasic (destructive).  In the transfer of roads we had shifted from passion to cautious. 

May the Source be with you!

46 KM

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Keremeos, British Columbia
The Road Gives
The road always offers provisions.  In the last few days of walking, Karuna and I have been harvesting a number of natural growing goodies along the way just by the highway.  We have been at plucking the Saskatoon berries, taking in amaranth - grains that ancient Greece indulged in, and also wild mustard leaves grabbed in generous clumps.  I also witnessed lambs’quarters, a lovely substitute for spinach.  These are all delectable items to add to our camp cooking.
Speaking of camping, the three of us (Daruka included) had the real trial of a time contending with high winds overnight, yet the weight of three men trying to be at peace in slumber, kept our tent in position.
Something that brought a different spin to our outdoor experience was being present at a tanning.  Lynn, a native woman from the area, invited us to the bush by the river where I was asked to give a talk on parenting.   Not having played the role as parent in this life (I'm a life-long celibate and monk for two thirds of my life), I at least qualify having witnessed my own parents being responsible and mature in this department.
In any event I delivered a lesson and thoughts on what it means to be a good mum or dad, while the group there had stretched deer skins and were treating them for moccasin-wear.  It was a pleasure being in the company of these sweet members of the First Nations.  Daruka had arranged a second trip to the Similkameen school to share my pilgrimage experiences with a new group of students.
Now Keremeos being situated in a fruit-belt area, gave me the opportunity to meet guys in the fruit-farming occupation.  Handshakes worked for a local young farmer and pranams (palms together), addressing "Namaste/Hare Krishna" was natural when meeting a Sikh on his tractor.  When opportunities arose I also shook hands with clusters of cherries off their branches, seeing them in such abundance.
I want to give a special thanks to Steve of the town's 'Review' newspaper.  His questions for the upcoming issue were penetrating and insightful.
May the Source be with you!
36 KM

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Keremeos, British Columbia
Know Your Natural World
I mentioned to Dez, "I was walking through your valley and along the way I was singing my favourite (Vedic) songs at the top of my lungs." 
Dez and his dad own close to 15,000 acres which are on both sides of the highway.  I was telling him the feeling of freedom on the road.  He nodded as if he knew the concept of freedom just from driving his ATV through his fields.  In fact when he saw me at the other end of the valley he thoughtfully drove to a supply of water in his house, to fetch some back to me.  What a heart!  Now he's a beef rancher, but he's got a heart.
While I'm trekking (and usually for the first three hours Karuna accompanies me) Daruka is busy setting up engagements for me.  He's not exactly the advance party.  Things must happen rather spontaneously, almost on the spur of the moment.  In the province of British Columbia teachers are on strike but that doesn't deter Daruka from approaching the private schools.  He has a chat with the local First Nations people in Similkameen Rerserve and books me for a talk to the young students.
My presentation with them ends up being a part life-style/geography/history/phys-ed pep talk.  The kids were great.  They could also appreciate cultural parallels between their ancient ways and my adopted lifestyle from India.
"One thing we should all learn about the out-of-doors is to know our plants," I had suggested to the kids.  Before heading off to school, our dear Karuna Sindhu unaware of the shiny three-leafed plant, poison ivy, decided to rest on a patch awhile there by the river.  I hope he's immune.
"Also know where to step," tells the teacher of the class.  She warned that in the area you have ruthless snakes which release poison.  "When approaching a log, step on top of the log before gaining a good grounding on the side of the log you can't see.  Don't startle the animals!"
Good advice! 
May the Source be with you!
34 KM

Friday, 20 June 2014

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Osoyoos, British Columbia

Where Bhakti Is Strong

Fran was struggling up the summit with her bicycle which was weighed down with her goods, namely her tent, sleeping gear, clothes and food, which were equally balanced on either side of her conveyance.  Her one third of the way up the mountain and my two thirds of the way down at a road’s switchback, became the meeting point, a spot ideal to stop and take a few breaths.  We naturally had something to share about the glories of road travel, and as we did so, the strong scent of sage was ever present, enhancing the already pleasant sensation of overlooking the Okanagan Valley at the city of Osoyoos. 

Happy trails, friend! 

Down at the Osoyoos Beach, where Karuna was waiting for our ritual wraps in the morning, I also met Keith Lacey of the ‘Osoyoos Times’.  Both he, and then minutes later, Brian Highly, of Okanagan Times, raised great questions about the walk. Hey, here we also met the local pot dealer.  No, he didn’t even bother to try to sell us weed, we’re monks, right? 

The real high power time of the day was a trip up to Kelowna.  The stay over at Karuna Shakti and Aaron’s place, and then the program arranged at the Italian Cultural Centre.  The hall is not large, but it did accommodate 50 plus.  Just imagine a snug group of kirtan lovers who came to indulge in chants and dance after a brief “Tales From Trails”.  I witnessed this enthusiastic group.  There were no shy folks, no transcendental wall flowers.  All was good. Also, our bhakti books, music CD’s and meditation mala beads sold very well.  This is also a barometre that gauges the interest of devotion in a location. 

Residents of Kelowna and Osoyoos, we love you.

May the Source be with you!
25 KM

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Rock Creek, British Columbia

Terrific Ordinary People

During my walking break time, I converged with my backup team in Rock Creek Trading Post.  We met Steven, a former TM teacher from Toronto, who came up to us to sing the ancient song in Sanskrit, "Govindam adi purusham tam aham bhajami..."  This means, “Oh Creator, I consider You totally awesome, for You are the original person.”  This is a popular song sung in Krishna temples all over the world, and Steven happens to know it.  Amazing how when and where you meet the most ordinary but special people. 

Today I also met Derek, Jared and Kim, all of Bridesville.  And even though perception  may have it that we are looking at just ordinary people, because they reached out and offered to help me by proposing a ride or giving directions, I considered them extraordinary.  Also, along the walk, I met a Dutch couple who pulled over their RV (recreational vehicle) and wondered if I was the monk they read about in the Creston News.  Right they were.  He is from Holland and she, from Surinam.  What a fabulous gesture it was of them to invite me into their mobile home in sheltering me from the rain for a time. 

My last installment of walking permitted me to meet cyclist, Mark, from Ireland.  What an upbeat fellow he is.  His journey, like many who traverse the vast track of land, happens to end up being one of pursuing self discovery.  It’s not what he initially anticipated.  He admitted about his trip, “I’m learning a lot about me.  It’s meditative.”

May the Source be with you!

46 KM

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Midway, British Columbia
Off the Grid
Usually there’s a railway line that parallels the road.  There may also be a creek running along, or a river.  In today’s case it is Kettle Creek.  We also have the Trans Canada Trail which I’ve been tempted to trek from time-to-time.  That path is practically visible from the road’s view, Hwy 3 or the Crows Nest Pass.  I also happened to be walking close to another line, the invisible 49th parallel that separates the U.S. and Canada in the western section of North America.
Despite the various divides and lines that man has created, our wildlife just doesn’t understand our grids.  As I was leaving Greenwood I saw a large moose leap a fence, cross the highway, and then occupy ground on a grassy mountain slope.
Motorists stopped to flick their cameras at the majestic creature.  The moose, apparently, was not alone.  It turns out she’s a mother and her two calves were left on the other side of the road and fence.  She boldly crossed the road once again to unite with her young. Somehow, instinctively she leapt the fence once again quite close to my spot of standing.
The two adorable calves just couldn’t make the leap their mother made.  They were once again separated by fence, road, traffic, and ditch.  It was a real drama when she leapt back leaving her kids confused and she disappeared beyond the trees.
I and a number of motorists stood in awe seeing the interaction of kids and mum in a natural adventure.  How absolutely heart-warming it was at that pivotal moment when the two calves ran to their parent in a most anxious mode.
Love is a powerful thing.  It is especially powerful when it takes Absolute status.  And speaking of love I want to offer my congratulations to all the dads of this world on this Father’s Day.  My reflection goes to my own father who is deceased but was a great dad.
May the Source be with you!
37 KM

Monday, 16 June 2014

Tiger Lilies

James, Billie and Daruka

James' Angora Goats

Church in Roossland


Black Bear near Greenwood

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Greenwood, British Columbia

Beauty Along the Way

I walked amidst the red pine, cedar, and deciduous trees, and myriad herbs that seemed to line the roads on both sides.  The road is a marvelous vein that slices through nature’s environment.  Each morning I receive the nostril arousement from fragrant disbursements that those green companions share.   I only wish that the world could be with me to experience it.  You are lucky to catch it at the right hour, somewhere at dawn. 

A cattle rancher from the area proposed to offer a ride.  I declined for obvious reasons.  He was inquisitive so I explained my pilgrimage purpose.  His remark before he trailed off was, “Hope you find what you’re looking for.”

“Will do!”  I said, while in my mind I was content to believe that I’m indeed finding it – Divinity and all that’s natural around me. 

I met the Websters, a couple with this lovely home overlooking a valley with a lake.  They tell me their son has made it big on a TV show called “Timber Kings” to do with log homes.  Well, they have the ideal home themselves, which they proudly wanted me to view from the deck so I could capture the ultimate vista.  This was a slight divergence from walking while at the same time the meeting of people is part and parcel of this walking mission. 

May the Source be with you!

35 KM

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Grand Forks, British Columbia

In The Doukhobors’ Town

I went to the emergency ward at the local hospital simply to address a fingernail infection.  The pain of it kept me up most of the night – no connection to Friday the 13th full moon I hope.  While waiting with patients for some treatment, I clued into some of the conversations.  Topical were the two subjects of disease and death. 

“It’s all those chemicals they put in the food that’s causing the cancer.  It’s killing all my friends,” said a woman to an acquaintance. 

Then a new patient took a seat and told me why he was in the hospital, “Lower back issues,” he said.  I suggested he walk, which is what I did when I encountered low back spasms.  Another older woman, 88, with a walking cane, intimated to me that even with her cane she falls frequently.  Then she showed me the bruises on her legs – the result of injury from collapsing.  One couple started the conversation on euthanasia, about willful and premature dying.  This all sounded somewhat depressing. 

I was compelled to tell each and all about the actual truth regarding dying as being superficial.  The spirit goes on, only the body is shed.  I felt, however, that the opportunity didn’t really arise.  Friendship and listening was apropos, as opposed to preaching a sermon.  Many of those really good folks I chatted with and listened to have a unique ancestral background. 

The history of Grand Forks is very interesting with many of the early settlers being immigrants from Russia.  The particular group were known as the Doukhobors, which when translated means, spirit fighter.  After renouncing the rituals of the Russian Orthodox Church, and refusing Russia military service, these early Doukhobors faced intense persecution by the church and state.  There was help from a number of influential humanitarians including the famous writer, Leo Tolstoy.  Apparently about 8,000 Doukhobors escaped Tsarist Russia and migrated to Canada in 1899.  Many settled in this area.  They were largely vegetarians as diet was concerned.  One of the radical branches of the Doukhobors would protest in the nude, and that was in the 1920’s, and that was a group called The Sons of Freedom. 

When I spoke to elders in the area, not necessarily the people I met in the hospital, some of their woes were that the current young generation keep meagerly to the ways of their ancestors. 

May the Source be with you!

30 KM

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Kirtan and mantra meditation at Ymir Community Hall
 Salmo hotel
Salmo Community center mantra meditation

Salmo Community center mantra meditation
Salmo Library: tales From the Trails
Salmo Library: tales From the Trails
Karuna's Kitchen
Karuna's Kitchen
Grouse on old highway near Christina Lake

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Christina Lake, British Columbia

It Was Decided

It was decided that we would take a bold step before he left our party for home, Michael eluded to a secret trail.  Now called the Santa Rosa Route, it was formerly the bus route through this stretch of southern British Columbia.  It is a 65 km section of dirt road and a serious switch-backing trail.  There are only a few families who live in the valley on this trail.  Instead of the regular highway, we vie for this quiet trail, now impassable, unless you have a four wheel drive.  No problem for hikers, though.

We met James at his rustic home at the base of the valley.  He treated Karuna, Daruka and I some refreshments.  Ice cold peach juice!  He also treated us to his personality.  He told us that he never leaves his place.  We believed him.  He lives like a hermit.  When he first saw me, he said he met me before through television.  He’s seen The Longest Road documentary where I’m featured.  “That was you, wasn’t it?”

We really liked James.  He’s a firm believer in Sasquatch.  He also refers to himself as a natural body builder, no steroids.  He’s been married to the same gal for many years and they raised three kids and home schooled them.  He attributes some of his physical strength to bear meat consumption.  During our short visit, he took to smoking pot.  Before he lit up, he asked, “You don’t mind?  I do it for medical reasons due to a serious accident I was in.”  He also showed us some bear scars on his chest.  

“Think nothing of it,” we said in regards to the marijuana.  I consider we made a good friend in him.  It turns out, he has a cousin who’s a Hare Krishna monk.

From James’s dwelling, Karuna and I continued on this practically abandoned peopleless trail, climbing gradually to a 16,060 metre summit, sipping water from natural springs along the way and hearing discourses from our guru, Srila Prabhupada, on Karuna’s small speaker box.  What an atmosphere.  Here in the most beautiful part of the world with mountains all around you, and you’re hearing transcendental messages, the most significant of which was the statement, “Death is artificial.”  There is some strong implication here.  Perhaps you would like to think about that statement. 

May the Source be with you!

46 KM

Friday, 13 June 2014

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Rossland, British Columbia

Relentless Highway

“The highway is relentless here,” said Larry, a resident from the city of Trail.  Karuna and I spent the major portion of the day seeking alternatives to the Crowsnest Pass – Highway 3B which runs through Trail.  Larry, whose house we stumbled upon after being pleasantly surprised by his OM insignia at the end of his driveway, made his remark about the road and his experience.  If he were a motorist, you’d find the drive through this town a grinding ordeal as the road snakes along and climbs a mountain.  And the speed of traffic?  I was reminded of the lyrics by that old Sonny and Cher song, “The cars keep a movin’ faster all the time.” 

The alternative routes we took to circumvent the mad highway were:

1)      The neglected Wagon Road 800 (The old gold rush trail).
2)      The suburban street zigzagging which people call switch-backing.
3)      The very informal half baked trail along a steep slope that angles into the Columbia River

Other highlights of the day:

1)       Daruka, Our support driver, purchased a 21 speed mountain bike in mint condition for $40 to be used in our pedestrian service.
2)      A flyer circulating in the town of Salmo was promotion for two presentations at the SVYCC for mantra meditation and a Tales From Trails at the Salmo Library. 
3)      Our experience walking through Trail, BC, convinced us that this city take a more serious look at its name and provide the necessary.

Here’s how the flyer for Salmo reads:

Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to meet THE WALKING MONK
The people!  The wildlife!  The beauty!  The oddities!
Always engaging and enthusiastic, this jolly swami gives talks and takes questions about his insightful and often breathtaking adventures across our great nation as he shares his ‘Tails From Trails’, and a bonus mantra mediation.

May the Source be with you!

27 KM

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Fruitvale, British Columbia

For Personal Growth?

“Would you like a ride?”  asked the young guy with the pickup truck. 

“No, thanks, I’m walking.”

“Is it for personal growth?”  he asked. 

“You betcha!”  I said, and gave an abbreviated version of my usual spiel.  Then he went about his way.

I passed by a gas station, and the proprietor, a Punjabi man, saw me and asked that I come inside.  He was startled to see a man in Indian sadhu garb.  He brought me to his back room where he’s designed an altar of Guru Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh, and other luminaries sacred to the Sikh tradition.  It was, and always is, a delight to meet someone from India.

Where time and space allowed for deeper penetration of discussion was, believe it or not, with students of the Salmo Secondary School.  We all entered the gymnasium – teachers, students and all, and began to speak.  They were very attentive.  I tried to convey the physical and spiritual benefits of walking.  It’s all adventure.  I even mentioned to them how on very rare occasions motorists attempt to seduce or proposition me.  That kind of surprised the students. 

From the high school, the plan was that all the students would go on foot several blocks for more presentation.  So young and older kids converged to hear about the value of pilgrimage.

Finally, our last stop was at a short drive to Ymir, a village of 350 population.  Where on short notice, to our astonishment, people did turn up at the community hall, particularly for our mantra meditation.  The voice projection from these people was phenomenal. 

From the dawn of the day, when I did marvel at the sight of two grizzly bears, to the confident singers at Ymir village, I would say that the day was super.

May the Source be with you!

35 KM

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Salmo, British Columbia


From the summit of the Kootenays, Karuna and I began our descent.  The experience of the downward trend is quite different.  Now, we flowed with the water which is a snow-thawed river called Lost Creek.  We also saw no buildings as on our ascent, because this is apparently Crown Land.  The leg muscles used for reaching the valley at the bottom are also different than the muscles used for the upward climb.  And instead of hitting cool breezes as we gained elevation levels yesterday, today we entered more warmth.  Now, finally we saw at the base of the Kootenay Summit Pass, our first house.  It was a change from seeing trees, mountains and gushing waters for two days with no human habitat. 

Daruka took us back over the summit by car after our reaching the mountain’s base.  It’s actually a bit hard on the engine.  Happy duty called for an engagement at the Creston Yoga Centre where we delivered Tails From Trails, and then mantra meditation.  I love the questions that came forth, addressing the hurdles of ego, temptations and so on.  I believe that these people in the heart aspire to be righteous and to be clean inwardly.  When someone asked in the group if I’m enlightened, I could honestly respond that it’s a work in progress and that it’s a long road. 

Two more beautiful things transpired in Creston.  There was an interview with a local FM station, and most important was meeting Lorne again from ‘The Advance’ paper.  He remembers me from 2006 and interviewed me once again.  Also, something needs to be said about the moose and the bear that were curious about the walking monk and his companion, Karuna.  No interviews came from them, they were just inquisitive.

May the Source be with you!

33 KM

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Kootenay Summit, British Columbia

Reach The Top
It was a very gradual climb to the tallest mountain in the Kootenay range.  17,074 metres is what my legs ascended.  Not a big deal.  It was gorgeous at the top with snow all about.  It resembles how I picture Siva’s abode – serene, fresh, clean. 

At that summit, cyclists, motorists, and the very rare walker, were sharing travelling stories.  There, to our surprise, we also met a fellow from Kilarney, Manitoba, whom we had the good fortune to meet last summer when I trekked through.  Small world at the top of the world. 

It was a third time that a gentleman saw me walking and he decided to stop and offer me his award winning cherry juice product.  That was the tastiest nectar you’ll ever have.  He and others took the trouble to stop their vehicle, turn around on this hazardous climbing road, to offer drink and food. 

Speaking of food, restaurateurs, Vijeta and Ariya are running a successful eating place at Baker Street in Nelson.  After reaching the top of the Kootenay Summit, our team of four, including Billie the parrot, drove off to Nelson and the Jagannatha Puri Express restaurant for a tour of the place, followed by a program I conducted at the residence of the couple.  Friends came, and for some of them it was a first in experiencing a “Krishna thing” according to one person.

In my talk I emphasized some universal principles such as, we are not these bodies, we are spirits.  For the spirit there is no beginning and no end.  And finally, as humans, we have the obligation to seek liberation and to terminate bondage. 

To our hosts, Vijeta and Ariya, thank you so much.  Your hospitality reached the top.

May the Source be with you!

29 KM

Monday, 9 June 2014

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Creston, British Columbia


There’s no doubt that there is struggle in the matter of walking, even in this almost perfect climate, and in clean mountain air.  I’m not much worried about grizzly encounters, but I’m cautious.  People have been nice, and I have rare to find any redneck dynamic.  Not even a remark of bigotry.  I enjoy the trekking, partially because of the austere side of it.  You do get your aches and pains for sure.  The mind may try to agitate.  That struggle is good. 

Here is what I get out of it, perseverance. 

Todd is a customs officer at a place on the border called Kingsgate.  He saw me when I was just about ready to enter the town Erickson.  He pulled over while on his way to work, “Just curious to know why you’re walking.  After my graduation I trekked from the coast to Creston, where I lived.  I found in the course of my walking I discovered many things about myself.  I did this walk solo.” 

I commended him for his task and agreed that it’s something more people should do.  “You give yourself time to reflect on past, present and future.  It becomes a spiritual experience.”

Amongst the other people I met today, a Jehovah’s Witness woman emerged from a vehicle at a major juncture along the road.  Her driver drove some distance to turn around.   When I first saw her, I was judging by her high heels that she wasn’t prepared to do any serious walking.  She came to me and made it clear that she’s a member of Jehovah.  She came with the journal, ‘The Watch Tower’ in hand.  I was willing to accept the literature only on the basis that she would accept my card with the maha mantra.   I was also of the conviction that if we were going to converse on the basis of my religion/my religion, and how ‘mine’ is the only approach, no!

We managed to keep everything light and leaving each other on the note, “God bless”.  We stayed on common ground.  I didn’t even have to persevere. 

May the Source be with you!

35 KM

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Kitchener, British Columbia

Trimming Down

In the first hour I may have two or three layers on to address morning chill.  Before long, comes off the hoodie.  The next hour, comes off my t-shirt underneath my traditional kurta (devotional shirt).  Even my safety vest I strip off due to there being enough sunlight by now.  In the third hour, I’m likely removing my socks.  By now, there’s nothing much left to peel off. 

The road brings with it warmth and coolness.  Asphalt appears to be a conductor of heat from the sun.  Although I can’t complain, temperatures remain below 22 degrees Celsius. 

Coolness arrives from the motorists who are on a passionate run to get to wherever.  Apart from the occasional happy honker, everyone else seems to be flying on the fuel of the greedy go.  No time to pay heed to a pedestrian.  I generally look for alternative wayside roads that angle along to meet the highway.  There, we find peace.  I did detour once, only to find myself at a cul-de-sac, a dead end.  A kind Mexican woman didn’t mind that I traversed her pasture land where I came upon the field’s corner.  My intent was to meet the highway again. Luckily the barbed wire on the fence didn’t entangle or rip my dhoti.  Remember, I’m as stripped down to as meagre as I’ll be after leaving Daruka with the extra burdensome clothing.  Finally, a quiet road lead me to the village of Kitchener, and to a juncture of the Crowsnest Pass.

One other thing seems to be missing these days.  Yes, of course, it’s Michael.  Michael is making the slow journey back to home, Toronto.   His allotted time with us has expired.  So, we’re down to three guys and one drama queen (Billie Jean, the parrot) and one crammed vehicle. 

We had a great swim in Vasa Lake, which relaxed muscles, and then took off for a visit to the Adi Vajra Shanehasalen asram.  Our connection with this community allowed us to make mutual relations.

May the Source be with you!

35 KM

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Yahk, British Columbia

Baby Crow

There is life in death with the emergence of the soul, even when an entity apparently bites the dust.  From the nest of a crow fell this baby bird, and somehow landed on the edge of the highway.  Funny, when you consider the name of this road way – the Crowsnest Pass.  I looked at the little buzzard, not a sign of life was in it, so where did the atma go?  The answer lies in karma, which is often times too complex to make some order or shape out of it.  As the body lay there rather featherless and practically balding, we can imagine that its soul is in flight. 

On his way to work, Patrick saw me, pulled over and came out of his truck to offer pranams.  Under his safety vest was a dark sweat shirt with an adorable insignia of Ganesh printed on it.  He’d been to Tibet like many westerners have been doing as of late.  Instead of the Himalayas, he obtained a little flavour of Tibet right here in the Rockies, only I’m not a Buddhist monk.  I may not even qualify as an austere monk necessarily.  What did make a difference for Patrick and me was the spiritual exchange that we had so early in the morning. 

Others came to see me on the highway.  The neighbourliness of motorists is like prana  (life force), but on the road you get both life and death.  Many signs of death are apparent on the highway such as the lifeless baby crow and the numerous crucifixes erected to demarcate automobile mishaps.  There’s a lot of vitality on this road because of the recurring appearance of the Moyie River and historically Dewdley blazed the trail here during gold rush days. 

May the Source be with you!

40 KM

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Cranbrook, British Columbia

I Stepped On

I stepped on what appeared to be a trail at Cranbook’s west end.  I was wrong.  A sign posted on this narrow cleared space near this swampy body of water, was a natural maternity habitat for local turtles.  An elderly man was raking the ground, readying it for turtle nesting.

I apologized to the man when I discovered my mistake.  “Oh, that’s alright, you didn’t know,” he replied forgivingly. 

Whenever there is an opportunity to trek somewhere parallel to a super busy highway, I jump for it.  Karuna, my walking partner for this morning, and I, spotted the Trans Canada Trail while walking during the morning rush hour.  We dashed for that trail and enjoyed the shade and tranquility it offered.  When it is inevitable that we stick to the main road, then we accept it as a practice in austerity.  The traffic is particularly busy through Cranbrook, a juncture that leads to Vancouver, Calgary, and the States. 

Being where the motorists frequent is always the most challenging, but I did meet nice samaritans today.  I had stopped by at a house asking for a possibly alternative parallel road.  The owner of the home informed me that there wasn’t any.  Somehow or other he was intrigued when I told him about the nationwide walk, because a half hour later, he and his wife pulled over and presented a bag full of goodies.

“Now, if there’s anything in this bag, you can’t eat, you can just take it out right now.”  So I looked inside and I pulled out the can of tuna and the package of beef jerky, and then went on to enjoy the fruit with thanks.  Not much later, a woman who had heard there’s a monk in town, drove out to the shoulder of the road where I continued to amble along.  Intrigued, she offered a donation and a smile.  Both were precious. 

I have one lament about these days, we don’t seem to be having success in school engagements in either Alberta or BC like we experienced in the prairies and north western Ontario.  Even yoga societies appeared too busy for our presentation.  Either that, or it’s too short notice.  So be it.  We are spending time with Paul and Sara and their friends who have come to visit.  Paul is 83 and he makes a mean rhubarb apple pie.  Due to our presence there, Paul and Sara’s company is enjoying vegetarian cuisine which we consecrate to make it prasadam. 

I thank Arnie from the Daily Townsman for coming to do an interview.

May the Source be with you!

35 KM

Friday, 6 June 2014

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Fort Steele, British Columbia 

Of the Day

Images of the day.

·         Loons on the lake at Norbury
·         Ravens encircle the sky while I attempt napping on a gravel mound.
·         Lumber trucks haul just that – lumber.
·         Pickup trucks whiz by.
·         Coal miners speed to work.  So do those to the trout hatcheries. 
·         Nice to me were the road construction crew on the Wardner Steele Road.
·         Beef cattle graze, a calf is milking.
·         Deer stare at me from behind a bush.
·         Fir, pine, spruce, cottonwood trees stand proudly.
·         The alternative route is peaceful, a change.
·         An old man stopped, wondered what I was about.  He grabbed for his teeth so he could talk.
·         Two bikers, Jake and Sigrid, stopped too. Theirs was a journey, a journey towards looking.  Maybe they will find.  Happy to meet them.
·         Today was a treat right to the last minute. 
·         Legs and feet – sore.
·         The road was more steep than usual.
·         More angles work more muscles.
·         A swim at Norbury Lake.  Awesome and great.
·         Relaxing with Karuna’s massage.  Much needed, much.
·         Many mantras I say today on top of everything else. 

Thank you, Paul and Sarah, for putting us up for the night. 

May the Source be with you!

36 KM

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Jaffray, British Columbia

Pulling Over

A man pulled over as I was walking on the Crowsnest Pass.  He just came from his nightshift work and asked, “Can I give you a ride?”

Quite routine, as far as my reply is concerned, but with some heart, I mentioned that I can’t accept a lift because my project doesn’t call for that.  I handed him my card with my name and short bio.  On the reverse side is the fully spelled out maha mantra beginning with “Hare Krishna”.  I qualified my role as a monastic person with a portfolio as a walker, a pilgrim, and how I wanted to see more people take care of their physical and spiritual selves.

The man wanted to know where I stay at night, and I let him know that I tent-it-out with a small support team.  He was compelled to reach into his pocket and pull out a twenty dollar donation.  This, I very much appreciated, and let him know that putting energy into this healing-the-heart while-hurting-the-heels is a worthy project. 

It was a rather brief exchange and wonderful.  This kind soul took the opportunity to be of service to others.

In the afternoon I met another man who pulled over, but it was obvious from his questions and gestures that his intentions were not very sattvic or clean.  I relayed to Michael the story and Michael who had also trekked the country mentioned that he had also met those types while on the journey. 

In a more compassionate moment, I managed to pull out a thought in wishing the man well after the incident, and I hoped that he would seek the opportunity for higher tastes in life, namely, the spiritual component.  I chose to reflect on the image that I saw between the exchanges of the two pulling-over people.  I had watched a herd of elk cross the river in the valley.  That was awesome, God’s mercy.  It left me sleeping with good thoughts.

May the Source be with you!

35 KM

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Fernie, British Columbia

35 Krishna Marks

It was our second night for outdoor camping, courtesy of Theresa.  Her front yard made a perfect base for the afternoon and evening.  She shared with us the various visitors at her property.  They include, deer, elk, cougar, and grizzly bears, just to name the big ones.  One night, she found that her chicken pen was almost completely cleared out by a couple of hungry grizzlies.  I guess you could say that certain types of drop in entities are not always welcome.  For our comfort, opening up her home to four grown men, is nothing short of kind, and it’s this kindness that always makes a long travel most pleasant.

Michael has been taking a lot of footage on his camera for an upcoming documentary he plans which is meant for promoting walking as meditation.  A lot of the shooting is taking place along the Elk River.  Having a river by your side as a walker is like having a cheerleader to prod you on.  And when you have a camera man along with you, it’s double cheers.  We may not have the Ganges here, but in Canada we have plenty of clean streams that energize all that are in close proximity to it.  I happen to be the blessed recipient who’s trailing along the Elk River. 

And being exposed to the road, whether on or off camera, brings the attention of many weekenders who are returning home for a new week’s routine.  One couple I know from Calgary, Aurelius and Callie, spotted me and pulled over to join in the last phase of the trek today.  It’s great to have companions like the river and people.  This couple is excellent at preparing tinctures, but the one Aurelius gave me, all packaged perfectly, good for hair, skin and teeth, is a tincture made from the plant horsetail.  Here again is a gesture of kindness, or if we could use the term, good social intercourse.  

May the Source be with you!

35 KM

Monday, 2 June 2014

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Fernie, British Columbia

Miles and Milestones

 After a hearty campout next to gorgeous waterfalls nestled in the mountains, Karuna Sindhu and I emerged from our tent at 3 AM.  In the second tent and automobile slept Michael and Daruka who both deserved the extra mileage of slumber.  In the pitch black of the evening, Karuna and I made our way along on what in broad daylight is viewed as a pure emerald lake.  We then crossed a creek that feeds that magical lake.  Only our mini flashlight guided us through a mountain trail and to Crowsnest Pass going westward.

The stars were multiple sparkles in the sky, and trees discharged their special perfumes as the sun started peeking.

We then hit a milestone – the Alberta/British Columbia border.  That’s 9 down and 1 to go, provincially.  It became a moment of victory I shared with Karuna.

At one point, I ventured on foot alone while Karuna joined Daruka in order to take to camping kitchen duties.  I came to a town called Sparwood, and entered the tourist visitors’ centre.  While there I was informed that Clara Hughes, Canadian Olympic winner for speed cycling and speed skating, had been in the facility earlier that day. This unique athlete, I realized, I met on the road two days earlier.  She was accompanied by two other cyclists near Lundbreck and was having a break when I appeared on the prairie shoulder of the road.  Positioned to reconvene their riding, she saw me, and raised her arm for a high five, and then shouted aloud, “Hey!”  She was all smiles, I didn’t know who she was at the time, but when Michael showed me her picture via the iPhone, sure enough, that was her.  It was another milestone.  I do hope she succeeds in her dreams. 

May the Source be with you!
37 KM