By Jean Ann Berkenpas
A local family of three is out to explore their world and share those adventures with their community through photography and writing. Ruby Hogg, Kyle Beeson and their eight-year-old daughter Gaia often travel to exotic locations, but acknowledge that “adventure starts at home.” They make a point of including outdoor exploration as a part of their family life, wherever they may be, and chronicle their adventures on www.wideopenworld.ca .
As a family they have travelled to Iceland, Norway, French Polynesia, Peru, Cuba, Mexico, Alaska and throughout Western Canada. However, many of their adventures also take place at home in the Robson Valley, where both Hogg and Beeson grew up. The family splits their time between Valemount, and Fort McMurray where Beeson works.
“Wide Open World was initiated by me and my friend Tamey [Wood] to share our love of adventure with our friends,” says Hogg of the initiative.
When Gaia was born, many aspects of getting outside and travelling changed. Hogg shares their learning process and hopes to inspire other families to explore the outdoors. In addition to writing about travel, they also cover lifestyle and parenting.
Their favorite local outings in the Robson Valley are mountain biking, hiking, and ski touring, but you might also find them on the water kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, or hitting up the local hot springs. The Valemount Bike Park is a favorite ride location, and Hogg writes in detail on her website about kid-friendly biking options in the in the bike park, as well as on other local trails. In the Robson Valley they have tackled hikes along the Berg Lake Trail, to the Dave Henry Lodge, and to Lily Meadows. In the winter they have travelled to McKirdy Meadows and the Hermit Thrush Cabin to backcountry ski.
For them it is not about taking part in any one particular activity, “it is about experiencing the world in all of its natural wonder.” When asked what kind of an impact this lifestyle has on their daughter Gaia, Hogg says that it “has lead her to loving the Earth, and an added bonus of loving something is that you develop a drive to care for it.” It has also helped her to develop a sense of geography and community.
It has been a lesson in perseverance for Gaia as well as her parents. “There have been many times when it seemed like too much work to get outside, or Gaia has wanted to give up on a difficult activity, but we powered through,” says Hogg. Following through is not always easy, but the pay-off is rich memories and life experiences.
When Gaia was five years old, the family decided to do an overnight winter trip up to the Hermit Thrush Cabin on McKirdy Mountain. The trail to the cabin is 5.5 km of steady uphill hiking. “Roughly 400 meters [up the trail], Gaia lay down in the snow and that was it. ‘No,’ she said, Ruby wrote of the outing. Luckily, with a little ingenuity and a couple of strong men willing to tow her on a snowboard, Gaia made it to the cabin. She was even able to enjoy hiking up to the meadow to watch the sunset with her family and friends. This was her first taste of powder skiing, and it continues to be an activity the family enjoys.
Gaia has also expanded her parents’ interests and abilities. “Since Gaia was young she has loved the water and she has also recently got into rock climbing,” says Hogg. “These are not activities that I feel particularly strong in. Kyle and I are trying to learn. Gaia has also been begging to start horseback riding, so that may be on the slate this summer!”