Let’s give a warm welcome to Lauren from The Ridgeline Report for this month’s “Find Your Adventure” series. Read on to hear about her transition from being an engineer to a hiking guide and why she says everyone is “outdoorsy” in their own way. //
Hi! My name is Lauren. I’m from Toronto, Canada and am a guide and manager at Live Out Loud Adventures, a company that specializes in hiking trips around the world. When I’m not on a trip, I work on recreating the landscapes I see on the trails through art, as well as maintaining my blog, The Ridgeline Report. As a mechanical engineer who prefers trails and trees over turbine engines, I hope to encourage people to get outside and get moving. I am a lover of dogs, watermelon, and crunchy chips with lime and black pepper.
What does adventure mean to you?
Adventure is a tough word. We tend to associate it with extreme sports, dangerous endeavors, or traveling the world. To me, adventure is as simple as seeing and experiencing something new; something that pushes you just past your comfort zone and lights your fire. Even seeing something old and familiar through a new lens can be adventurous!
Tell us about your first adventure! Where did you go and what did you do?
My first big adventure was actually a job tree planting in Northern Ontario for three months when I was nineteen. I spent ten hours a day, six days a week, planting trees for eight cents per tree! Just to cover camp costs, I had to plant nearly three hundred trees each day. On my best day, however, I planted seven thousand!!
Living out of a tent for three months was quite an experience, and one that taught me the good, the bad, and the ugly about camping. Tree planting gave me a sense of perseverance as well as tangible outdoor skills. It certainly set me up well for my next big adventure, which was a 22-day, 500 km hike on the Benton Mackaye Trail. The Benton Mackaye is in the Appalachian mountains, but sees a fraction of the traffic as the Appalachian Trail and was totally awesome. That hike gave me the confidence to continue seeking hiking adventures around the world.
Is there any adventure that’s intimidating or off limits to you?
The one thing I may not try is skydiving. Bungee jumping I have done and loved, but there is something quite unsettling to me about launching yourself out of an airplane. I’m not saying I wouldn’t, but I’m just not going to go out of my way to make it happen.
What has connecting with your sense of adventure taught you?
Finding adventures, challenging myself, and discovering what I am capable of has taught me a lot about the power of our minds. Adventure has taught me that if I set my mind to something, with enough determination, I can do it.
I think adventure has a way of doing that for everyone: giving you the confidence that you are capable.
Adventure has also taught me about perspective and expectations. For example, one might think that climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is all about reaching the summit. But, while standing at the roof of Africa was unforgettable, the best part about the adventure was the local people I met and the time I spent talking to them. Sitting in the mess tent, helping them cook, chatting about nothing in particular, and learning about their families: that was the true adventure.
What’s on your must-have gear list?
I actually wrote a post about this since my must-haves for a hiking trip are a bit unusual, but I’ll summarize. My must-haves are, in this order: a titanium spork (food is very important), a buff (what can’t it be used for??), wooly socks (see: Costco for the best deal), a Nalgene bottle (water is also important), hiking poles (save your knees, people), and pepperoni sticks (I told you it was unusual).
Do you have a favorite kind of adventure?
Good question. Well, I lead hiking trips with Live Out Loud Adventures as a job, so that’s the easy answer. However, I am a huge fan of biking trips as well. Once, I cycled the length of Vietnam from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city. Let’s not forget local adventures, too! I am a HUGE supporter of exploring your own backyard, and try to spend every weekend discovering the wonders around Toronto. You can do so much with a weekend!
What’s your dream adventure and why?
Currently, hiking through the mountains of Mongolia is at the top of my list. My dream adventure if I had all the time and money in the world, however, would be a long bike trip. Perhaps from Toronto to Tofino, BC across Canada, or from Toronto to Tekapo, New Zealand for a totally epic adventure. If all else fails, I’d like to move to New Zealand for a couple of years again. I lived there for eight months once, and it wasn’t quite enough.
What is one piece of advice you would share with a fellow adventurer?
You. Can. Do. It. No adventure is too small. Don’t be intimidated by a lack of experience, and don’t put yourself into a category of people who “don’t go on adventures.” Everyone loves the outdoors, no matter if that means sitting on a beach or climbing Kilimanjaro. This is something I am wholly passionate about: outdoorsy-ness is a spectrum, not a scale, and we are all on it somewhere. It’s important for self-identifying “outdoorsy” people to help reinforce that there is no club. We can’t hold our heads too high. Encourage all of your friends to join you on your next adventure.
For all of you who think adventure isn’t for you – realize that you ARE outdoorsy in your own way. If you start identifying as someone who enjoys the outdoors, you will try harder to prove it and, believe me, you will enjoy it.
Get off your screen and embrace the green.
It will make you feel better in the moment, I promise! Get outside and go already, the sun is waiting for you. You can do it!