What to Expect
The Natural Connection is built to serve those who may be lacking in "Outdoor Experience". You will talk directly with your guide about your personal fitness level, what you would like to see while hiking, and any outdoor experience you may have. Based on your answers, your guide will create a unique adventure tailored to your specifics.
Your day on the trail is not solely aimed at exercise, reaching a specific viewpoint or any other physical goal. Your guide will also help you experience the intangible aspects of nature; moments which cannot be described, only remembered. Through the practice of Shinrin-yoku (Forest Bathing), you will be fully immersed in the natural world, body and mind. Every group will have the opportunity to be guided through a mindful meditation practice, incorporating the five senses in an effort to connect more to the surroundings and the entire day's experience.
For information on how to guide yourself through some basic Shinrin-yoku practices, download the PDF file below.
Included With Every Adventure
Transportation around the Victoria/Sooke area is included for groups up to four, and the pick-up/drop-off points can be different if you would like to be picked up or dropped off at another local attraction or restaurant. For groups of up to eight we can help arrange alternative transportation with advance notice.
Each guest will have their own backpack with a water bottle, packed lunch, foam pad to sit on, and a few "Safety items" (Headlamp, spare gloves, hand warmers, kleenex, signal whistle, glow-stick, emergency blanket and poncho). There is still room in the bag to pack extra clothing, cameras, or any other personal belongings you require for the adventure.
Before each hike, guest will be guided through a physical warm-up comprised of static and dynamic stretches derived from yoga and martial arts practices. This will help to prevent injury and ensure guests feel physically connected with their surroundings before we hit the trail.
The basic trail lunch consists of steamed brown rice, vegetables, wild smoked salmon, trail mix, and a piece of fruit. If you have dietary restrictions or allergies, we will do our best to accommodate, but it may be suggested you bring your own lunch.
After our lunch break, there will be an opportunity to be guided through a meditation practice incorporating mindfulness and the five senses to help attune the body to the natural world. This is highly recommended for those who live or work in a noisy environment. Fair warning though, this practice is highly addictive and you will likely find yourself seeking a quiet space to meditate on a regular basis.
Your guide is happy to take as many photos on the trail for you as you would like, so be ready to SMILE!!
There are many geocaches in our local parks, if there is one on our path we can stop and enjoy some high-tech treasure hunting with a handheld GPS unit!
The driving route to the parks usually takes us past road-side farm stands, so be sure to bring some cash (small bills and loose change) if you would like to sample some of the local flavours! Fresh veggies, eggs, flowers, fudge, artwork and more as the summer progresses.
About Your Guide
I'm Ryan, your guide to adventure with The Natural Connection. I grew up in the Victoria area, and have no intention of leaving this idyllic island lifestyle anytime soon. It's a magical corner of Canada that never sees a real winter, and rarely gets above 25c in the summer. Home to some beautiful scenery and friendly people; you will likely encounter both on the trail!
My childhood home was between the Sooke River, and the Galloping Goose Trail, so I found a passion for the outdoors at a young age. I've spent a great deal of my time exploring our local parks and trails for recreation and personal fitness, and tracked many trails by GPS to create a personal digital data-base from which to plan your adventure. I have challenged myself on multi-day treks through Strathcona Park and the Juan de Fuca Trail, and although I do not offer multi-day guiding service, I would be happy to consult with you if you are planning a personal trip.
Your enjoyment and safety are my primary concerns on the trail, so I will only select trails that challenge you as much as you would like be. If you want to hike without breaking much of a sweat, climb a steep mountain or try some trail running, I know where to take you, because I've probably done it there. I've made some of these parks my second home and I am happy to share that knowledge with you.
I have a Medical First Responder first-aid level from St.John Ambulance, and have maintained an active first-aid level for over 10 years. I spent four years working with the Canadian Coast Guard & five years as a Sailing Instructor. Which has given me a strict "Safety First" to any risky outdoor activity. I bring an extensive first-aid kit and a Personal Locator Beacon on each trip. The best way to prevent injury on the trail, is to pace yourself. There's no rush out there, so take your time and take it all in.
The great outdoors are there to be enjoyed, embraced, and challenged - not feared or avoided. We can all stand to be happier, more relaxed versions of ourselves and time in nature has been proven as a stress reliever - rain or shine! So leave the city behind, hit a trail, take a walk and find yourself in nature.