"The more you know, the less you carry" -Mors kochanski.
These words really resonate for me in today's gear crazy outdoor world.
It was this gear heavy, low knowledge approach that got me into big
trouble in my early 20's. Lost and stranded, with gear but no real skills,
I made a promise to myself to learn all I could about this beautiful place
in which I'd found myself feeling so helpless. Luckily I made it out, but
we will have to cover the rest of that story another time.
Determined to fill the void, I chased down books on camping, plants,
and survival skills. At every opportunity I practiced what I'd been reading.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of frustration to be found in attempting to
master such a vast subject in this way.
After years of trial and error I was gifted with an unforgettable experience; I was enrolled in a 7 day winter survival course with Mors Kochanski, a legendary wilderness living and survival instructor. Teaching alongside Mors was master instructor Kelly Harlton. During that week these two excellent and distinguished teachers basically wiped out and re-wrote everything I thought I knew. The "veil of green", as Kelly would say, had been lifted and I now saw the forest for what it was: my hardware store, grocery store and medicine cabinet.
Over the lat decade I've taken part in many courses with these great men, beginning as a student and eventually being privileged enough to teach along side them, still learning all I can, and doing my best to pass that knowledge on to others.
It seems that whether I'm driving in a winter storm, enjoying a night sleeping under the stars, or heading out on a multi-week expedition, there is a real sense of calm that comes with this knowledge learned and endlessly practiced. It has created an environment within me, leaving me feeling confidant in natures presence but never underestimating her power.
Canoeing has always held a special place in my heart. Soaking in the quietness
of the wilderness with a paddle in hand nurtures a sense of empowerment with every stroke.
My connection to the ocean and water started early as I grew up on a small island in NB
where much of my family were fishermen, some even sailed all over the world.
After taking the Adventure Leadership and Recreation program at New Brunswick
Community College in St-Andrew’s NB, I moved across the country to Alberta.
It was one of the best decisions I ever made as it allowed me to learn and grow at a much
faster rate. Reflecting on my personal growth and development over the last decade, I am
fortunate to be able to work and play in a profession that I hold so close to my heart.
Learning everything I could about equipment while working at an outdoor retailer, plus working as a canoe leader for several years and completing my Paddle Canada and RedCross certifications, blessed me with the confidence, experience and knowledge to safely share my passion with others.
My brother said it perfectly when he said, “after all, it’s not what you've done that should inspire you, but what you will do”.
Together we make up NIKO Wilderness Education, where it's more than an education, it's an experience! From winter trekking to multi day canoe trips, we have been adding to our skill set as a duo and have done a lot in this past couple of years to ensure that our clients are excited about their next adventure.