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 maintained an active first-aid level for over 15 years, with my highest certification as a Medical First Responder from St.John Ambulance. 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, and find yourself in nature.
What to Expect
The Natural Connection is built to serve those who are seeking a relaxing & socially distant experience. For custom tours 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. Or book one of the tours on the homepage.
Your day on the trail is not solely aimed at exercise, reaching a specific viewpoint or any other physical goal. Your guide can 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 are fully immersed in the natural world, body and mind. Groups are invited to ask about my mindful meditation practices, which incorporate the five senses in an effort to connect more to the surroundings and the entire day's experience. These meditation practices can be utilized while seated, or walking along the trail.
For information on how to guide yourself through some basic Shinrin-yoku practices, download the PDF file below.
Included With Every Adventure
Day-packs are available if needed, with a water bottle, packed lunch, foam pad to sit on, and a few "Safety items" (Headlamp, spare gloves, hand warmers, 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.
As we hike, I'll identify some of the plant life in the park and pass on some local history. At the right time of the year you may be able to harvest a few wild berries or mushrooms, so bring along a small empty container to fill with the bounty of nature. As someone who has lived here for over 30 years I can share some local history, and tell you where to go for a pint and a good meal after your hike.
A trail lunch is included with the longer tours. It is generally supplied from my wife's cafe or cooked fresh by me the night before. I can accommodate most any allergies or dietary concerns; no one goes hungry on the trail!
An of course, I'm happy to take as many photos on the trail for you as you would like!