Through just about every weather condition you can imagine, all behind the strength of his own two feet, Dwayne Buckle did it.
The Red Deer firefighter set out on Oct. 21, to walk to Port Hardy, B.C., in support of the Canadian Cancer Society and to honour several family members who passed away from the disease.
Called crazy and foolish by some, the 40-year-old arrived in Port Hardy Monday, completing the 1,638 kilometre trek over 82 days.
“It was worth every step. It had its moments where it was tougher than other days, but in the end, I’d do it again,” he said, of the 12-week journey.
He was set to arrive back in Red Deer Friday night and was mostly happy to be reunited with his son.
“It’s going to be amazing. I’ll have a tear for sure, probably a lot of them,” Buckle said before the final leg of the trip, from Calgary home to Red Deer.
Buckle, who said he always had a warm place to stay, walked from Red Deer, across the Rockies, through the Kootenays, into the Lower Mainland, and all the way up Vancouver Island to Port Hardy.
He explained one of the most difficult parts of the journey was in B.C.’s Lower Mainland at Rogers Pass — a tough crossing in the Selkirk Mountains east of Revelstoke.
“Very, very narrow roads and adverse weather,” he said of that leg.
Beyond that, there was a lot of rain – Buckle said from basically Chilliwack to Port Hardy it rained every day.
Still, the motivation was easy to find on the trip. From those who encouraged him along the way with hot chocolate or donations – to the reason he was walking – to the family members he lost to cancer.
Days after he completed his firefighting certifications, his aunt died of cancer. Less than a week later, his cousin died.
“I guarantee they would be super proud. It hasn’t really hit home yet,” he said.
Buckle said when he first thought of the idea to take the journey, especially during a pandemic, there was a fair amount of doubt cast on the idea. He’s glad he proved those doubts wrong.
“A lot of people said I wasn’t going to make it and I said, ‘You know what, you bet your bottom dollar I make it right to the end.’ And I did it,” he said.
He added the plan was to raise $2,500 and Buckle figures he more than surpassed that.
For more info and photos from the journey, check out the Hike for a Cure 2020 Facebook page. Beyond that, Buckle encourages people to donate to the Canadian Cancer Society.