It’s a cold and wet November morning, with a misty rain threatening to turn to snow. Just west of Nelson, on the side of the highway, there’s an improbable sight: a blue two-person tent, pitched a few yards from the traffic roaring by.
I call out ‘Hello?’ and a moment or two later a short, a bearded Japanese man pops out of the tent.
“Hello,” he says back pleasantly, though it’s obvious my calling out had just woken him up. He introduces himself as “Qash.”
He doesn’t know me but I know him. “Qash,” or Keisuke Morimoto, 22, and Atsumu Namura, 26, are on an eight-month walking trek across Canada. They’ve been talked about on local social media, from Rock Creek to Rossland, for the last three weeks.
The men say they are heading to Nova Scotia, pushing their supply wheelbarrow the whole way.
On foot. In Canada. In winter.
You want to ask if they are crazy, but they really don’t know enough English to get that message across.
“It’s fun, and it’s a challenge,” says Morimoto, who says he’s a garbage man in Kyoto. He says they expect to reach their destination in about eight months.
But there’s a lot of kilometres to cover before they get there. Morimoto says they are ready for the weather. They plan to buy more equipment and clothing in Nelson, and they’ve been benefitting from the kindness of strangers.
“People have been all kind,” says Morimoto. There’s evidence of that before us this morning.
While the men slept, someone left a couple of coffees and two slices of banana bread outside their tent. Morimoto is happy and surprised. They just might make it after all.