Stephi Walker is joining the Connected In Motion team to plan and coordinate our wilderness trips. She has an academic background in the science of the natural world, a wealth of professional experience guiding extensively across Canada and the world, and a serious passion for being in the backcountry. We’re excited to have her on the team – welcome Stephi!
Hey Stephi! So, who are you? Where are you from?
Hey! My name is Stephi Walker. I’m from a small seaside town on the east coast of Scotland. It’s really beautiful there – we have long white sandy beaches, as well as a lot of wind and rain!
What lead you to working with CIM?
I’ve worked in the outdoor industry for the past 5 years and I’m really lucky for it to have taken me all over the world, guiding and leading trips in places like Borneo, Tanzania, the Galapagos, and Greenland amongst others. I came to Canada in 2013 and quickly became totally absorbed in the wilderness and outdoor communities that this wonderful country has to offer. I’ve known about Connected in Motion for a few years now and I am delighted to get a chance to contribute to its momentum as the new Adventure Coordinator.
What kind of adventures have you been getting up to recently?
Well, I just got back from Antarctica a few days ago. I’ve worked down there as a Sea Kayak Guide for the past 3 years. It’s sometimes hard to explain in words but it is truly one of the most spectacular, jaw-dropping and interesting places I will ever go. The wildlife, the ice and the rapidly changing weather conditions never cease to amaze and engage me. This past summer I lead a couple big 3-week long whitewater canoe trips, one in Quebec and one on the Nahanni River in beautiful NWT. I spent my birthday floating down the Nahanni’s ‘First Canyon’ surrounded by stunning kilometer-high canyon walls. I am an extremely lucky human.
What do you do for fun?
Hahaha, much the same as I do for work! I love being outside in wilderness spaces – hiking, paddling, skiing, exploring with new and old friends. Growing up next to the sea has instilled a passion for being on the water – whether sea kayaking, white water paddling, or floating around on a surf board trying to catch waves, I’m at my happiest when I’m out on the water.
What do you love about multi-day wilderness trips?
Ahhh, so much. The beauty. The quiet. The teamwork. The physical challenge. The rough and wild landscapes. But, most of all, I love the immediacy of living in the wilderness. All that matters is the people around you and the decisions you’re making at that particular moment in time. Instead of worrying about bills or life plans or your next post on social media, everyone becomes so absorbed in the joy of the moment. For me, it is almost addictive – living in the here and now.
What do you like to eat when out on the river or the trail?
Chocolate! Like all good wilderness guides I have a healthy appetite for chocolate. I also love making and eating things that you wouldn’t expect to have in the back and beyond. I love a good Asian-style slaw or baked brie after a long day on the river. Fresh ingredients taste even better in the backcountry. On hiking trips, I value ‘light and fast’ dehydrated or freeze-dried ingredients to make a delicious stew or hearty chilli.
Have you always been a hardcore outdoorswoman?
I’m not so sure about hardcore. But, either way, no. I’ve always loved being outside but I grew up playing on the beach, not really camping or going to camp. I started learning to whitewater paddle when I was 25. Being good at being outside isn’t something you’re born with, it’s a learned skill like so many other things in life.
Have you got any personal experience with Type 1?
I’m excited to learn a lot more but I do have some personal experience with Type 1 diabetes. One of my aunts has lived with Type 1 diabetes for over 40 years and she is one of the most determined, independent and strong-willed people I know. She has overcome a lot of challenges over the years and I admire her for her incredible resiliency.
What’s one thing you’ve already learned from the Type 1 community?
Technology! Seriously, I’ve never before seen people use technology for so much good. I’m not anti-technology but I do spend a lot of time in wilderness spaces without any wifi connection or power. So to see people utilize apps, phones and watches to enable better management of their health is a marvel to me.
What are you most excited for as the new CIM Adventure Coordinator?
Planning adventures is one of my favourite things. I love paying attention to the small things that can really make a trip special and memorable. I can’t wait to see days and weeks of planning become reality as folks from the CIM community, new or old, shoulder that pack for the first time or paddle off into the distance.
Finally, if you could take three celebrities on a canoe trip, who would you take?
Okay, first of all – David Attenborough, a human I revere for his wildlife knowledge and passion. He could narrate the whole thing. Comedian Jim Gaffigan would be worth his weight in laughter. And, finally, Scottish singer and musician KT Tunstall for her musical talents and taste of home. We would go to some big whitewater river in the Canadian north, take great food and have a grand old time!