Bounding into the great outdoors

Playwest Mountain Experience takes hikers into the wilderness.

Chris Skinner wants to give even the most reluctant of hikers the chance to explore the nearby mountains. He started Playwest Mountain Experience this summer to take adventurers into the wilderness.

“There’s a lot of people that maybe don’t get to go out into the mountains for fear or whatever and I think we offer an opportunity to get those people out there and create a safe environment for them to experience our surroundings. And it’s fun,” he said.

One of his guests, a woman in her mid-20s, had never been hiking, was “super apprehensive,” and “had completely discounted her ability,” he said.

But her demeanour changed as she hiked into Pedley Pass and left brimming with confidence and daydreams of future hikes.

“It opened up a whole new lifestyle to her,” he said.

Many of his guests are likewise awed with the natural wonders they see on their hikes and pleasantly surprised by their capacity to keep going.

Guests on his day treks can expect to find: “incredible flowers, wildflowers for days, vistas and views that are some of the best in the world, a real sense of being remote… (and) some really bad jokes,” he said. “It will be a learning experience as well. And hopefully just a really nice day in the mountains.”

Even the most risk-adverse guests can head forth with confidence knowing Mr. Skinner is packing bear spray, a radio, a second emergency-communication device, a First-Aid kit, a repair kit, backup layers and more to keep his guests safe.

On his adventures, which have included guiding four seven-day expeditions on the West Coast Trail last year, Mr. Skinner has come across plenty of overambitious and underprepared hikers who were: “ill-equipped, ill-informed (and) maybe biting off a little more than they could chew.”

Most notably, one solo hiker on the verge of hypothermia ran into his group when his condition was quite dire and “had the potential of being a really serious evacuation situation,” Mr. Skinner said.

Thanks to their guide training, which kicked in automatically, Mr. Skinner and his group were able to help the man recuperate. “Having a guide is kind of handy,” he said.

In addition to knowing how to respond in an emergency, Mr. Skinner is also happy to teach his guests navigation, shelter building and more to help them gain the skills they need to handle outdoor expeditions of their own.

Mr. Skinner is offering hikes to Jumbo Pass on Sunday, August 25th and to Brewer Lakes on September 22nd through the Mountain Hub Hiking Club. He is also available to lead private groups on request.

While he is focusing on day hikes this summer, Mr. Skinner intends to offer several multi-day trips next year and to teach a backcountry camping course.

For more information and to book a trek, visit www.playwest.ca.

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