THUNDER BAY — Hot weather, thunderstorms, and bugs have made Northwestern Ontario a tough grind for Michael Yellowlees, the Scotsman trekking across Canada for the non-profit Trees for Life.
Yellowlees, who's stopped in Thunder Bay for a brief break, says this has been the most challenging section of the journey which began in B.C. in March.
But in an interview Monday with TBNewswatch, he said none of the obstacles have lessened his appreciation for the beauty of the region's natural environment.
Yellowlees recalled an incident as he was walking along Highway 11 between Atikokan and Thunder Bay a couple of nights ago.
"I was hearing wolves howling. That's been a dream for me, to hear wolves in the wild. It was just amazing. It was a tick off the bucket list. There's no feeling that's so primal."
When the Scottish adventurer resumes his trip to Cape Spear, Newfoundland on Tuesday, he will leave his trusted companion Luna behind to rest up.
The Alaskan husky is in the care of the Murillo Mutts Respite Refuge for the next 10 days or so.
Luna gained fame across Canada last month when she became lost in the bush east of Fort Frances, an experience Yellowlees called "horrible and gut-wrenching."
He spent a week looking for her, but the story had a happy ending.
The pair has formed such a tight bond that Yellowlees will take the dog to Scotland with him when his trek ends in November.
He joked that she's become such a part of the family that when he phones home to update them on his progress, "they're often not very interested in how I'm doing. They're more interested in Luna. They're all expecting her home."
Although Luna wears protective booties on her paws, Yellowlees said one of her feet has become a little tender.
"We still have a very long way to go and I think it's very important that my beautiful girl gets the rest she needs," he wrote on Facebook.
He said it's hard to leave his companion behind but the people at Murillo Mutts have been "utterly amazing" with their care.
Once her sojourn is over, they'll also drive Luna to whatever location Yellowlees has managed to reach.
The time that was lost searching for the dog is one reason he's had to push his anticipated arrival at Canada's easternmost point from October to November, when he expects it will be very cold in Newfoundland.
Regrettably, it also cost Yellowlees the chance to canoe through Quetico Park, a missed opportunity that he said left him "a little bit gutted."
However, he had already been cautioned against venturing there because of forest fires.
So far the expedition has raised close to $20,000.
"I think we're doing quite well," Yellowlees said. "Obviously we still have a long way to go, though, so hopefully the donations continue to come in."