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Cross-Canada B.C. hiker's stolen gear replaced by donor

07/02/2013 10:04 EDT | Updated 09/01/2013 05:12 EDT
A B.C. hiker says he has been overwhelmed by Saskatchewan's generosity, after having his gear stolen and then burned during a stop on the Onion Lake First Nation on the weekend.

A Saskatoon camping and sporting goods store provided replacement equipment, including a tent, sleeping bag and clothes.

"It's unbelievable," Dana Meise said Monday. "I can't thank them enough. I'm so grateful, like unbelievably grateful."

Cynthia Fagnou, owner of Outter Limits hiking gear in Saskatoon, spent her day off getting the new items ready.

"It's unfortunate the circumstances came up, and if we can help him, that's what it's about," Fagnou said.

Greg Johnson, a Regina-based storm tracker volunteered to deliver the new gear to Meise in Lloydminster.

"This happens to him here?" Johnson said. "It's like that's the worst welcoming committee I've ever heard of."

Meise had stopped at the Onion Lake Cree Nation when his backpack was stolen. He later found it, burned.

Footage can't be recovered

He lost almost everything, including hard drives of footage for a documentary he was making of the trip.

"I had a bit of a breakdown," he said. "It's emotional because there's so much footage I can't get back."

Meise said he plans to resume his trek in a few days.

Meise is from Prince George, B.C. He was making his way through Saskatchewan when a family invited him to see the chuckwagon races at Onion Lake.

He said he was getting ready to go to sleep in one of the wagons when he turned his back for a few minutes. That's when he said all his equipment was stolen.

Part of the journey

"I want to stress that this was a random act," Meise said Tuesday. "What people don't understand is when you hike solo, at some point, you have to trust people. And that trust might be broken from time to time."

He said he has lost other items to thieves, including a camera, and the experience in Saskatchewan was part of the journey.

He added that the people he met on the reserve were very welcoming.

"Onion Lake was first-class," he added. "The people I met were first-class. This was a random event, completely."

Initially, Meise said, he was overwhelmed by the theft and couldn't figure out what to do.

Has only his clothes

"It was kind of devastating," he said. "I'm thousands of kilometres from my home. And I have no money, no nothing."

He said the only thing he has, from his trip, were the clothes he was wearing.

Meise said part of the difficulty was the emotional attachment he had to some of the items he had with him, including a cherished hat from a fellow hiker.

He also lost a collection of wrist bands that were given to him by different people he met.

"I was given a cancer bracelet," he recalled, from the mother of a cancer patient who wanted the item to travel with Meise. "These kids stole this and then burnt it. They don't understand what they did."

He said he did not want press charges, but was open to meeting the culprits and talking with them.

"I just can't believe it," Meise said, about the generosity he is experiencing in having his gear replaced.

Long trek

He started his 23,000-kilometre trek five years ago in Newfoundland and, hiking for six months each year, arrived in Saskatoon three weeks ago.

"I never quit," he added. "I'm setting a world-record. This is the Trans-Canada Trail, the world's longest trail. It is hard."

He said his idealism and fondness for Canada is undiminished.

"Canada is beautiful, and nothing is going to mar my idealism and how I feel about Saskatchewan," he said. "I love this place."

He noted that, prior to the theft, he was a few days ahead of his schedule.

He expects to be in Victoria, near the end of November.

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