When we defied our parents to visit the abandoned building at the end of the streets that was off limits, it was totally worth the tongue lashing you got if it meant exploring the dilapidated structure.
What’s up around the bend or over the next hill is the stuff that keeps some of us from going insane. It’s what drives us into the woods on Victoria Day weekend despite terrible weather forecasts.
For Pasadena’s Janalee Strowbridge, the exploring bug nipped her early in life. She can trace her love of hiking back to a couple of moments in her life.
First, she remembers climbing the hills around Port de Grave on the province’s east coast. A short 50-minute drive from the capital city. It’s a place of harsh beauty with its crags and crevices moulded over centuries of being beaten by an unrelenting Atlantic ocean, and offering plenty for those who want to find it.
She and her brother would tie off a couple of ropes and scale the steep inclines when they visited her grandparents during family trips.
Another is when she’s 10 years old and she’s with her family. It’s her first real hike and they’re aiming to scale Gros Morne Mountain, a 16-kilometre loop that tests even the most hardened of explorers. It’s also an ample place to capture that Facebook profile pic you’ve been longing for.
“My brother flew up there like it was nothing and he was only six years old,” said Strowbridge of the cherished memory. “I chased after him because everything was so huge at the time. When I got up to the top, I realized what it was.
“That was my first big adventure that I remember doing.”
The west coast of the province and hiking compliment each other perfectly. For the outdoor enthusiast, there’s a bountiful number of trails and mountains to scale.
For the past three years, Strowbridge and her Facebook group — Hiking Adventures on the West Coast — has been doing its best to get people off of the sidewalks and onto the trails in and around Corner Brook.
It’s aimed at pulling people together and helping each other climb a mountain, cross a river or just take a walk in the woods.
It’s not just reserved for the spring and summer either. The group makes sure to incorporate winter activities as well, namely snow shoeing.
It’s a group for the experienced outdoorsperson and the genre neophytes who want to get a taste of the environment around them while they worked out.
No one gets left behind, so to speak, as hikes are often tailored to the skill level of those available on any given day.
“It has opened the door for people to get out when they normally would not have from either being new to the area and having limited connections or because they want to better their well-being,” said Strowbridge.
The group was instrumental in Strowbridge’s nomination for Corner Brook’s Achievement in Community Excellence (ACE) Award in the Active Living Community Champion (Individual) category.
Adding visuals to the group has helped attract new members and it’s grown from a couple members in the first year to over 80 heading into the summer of 2017. These numbers include some in their 70s who have no problem keeping with their younger counterparts.
Everything is co-ordinated through the group’s main page.
You’d be surprised what is around when you take the opportunity to take a look. A part from the usual suspects, there are plenty of trails around to test your mettle.
Just ask me, I’ll tell you. I’ve been surprised by the sheer number of places you can find yourself if you just pay attention.
Sometimes Strowbridge goes off the beaten path and take her eager hiking cohorts in order to get a full grasp of the world around them.
Along the way they’re learning some basic survival skills, seeing the province — it’s pretty darn cool — and gaining a better understanding of yourself.
It’s a neat thing to have.
— Nicholas Mercer is the online editor with the Western Star. He recently caught the hiking bug and is eagerly planning local excursions into the wilderness. He lives in Corner Brook and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org