A Sooke woman who has been exploring the wilderness for most of her life, has turned a pastime into a career.
Drea Gibson, 31, offers guided tours of regional parks, trails and beaches to tourists from around the world.
Gibson, originally from Newfoundland, relocated to Vancouver Island 10 years ago. Throughout the last decade, she has explored and trekked through the West Coast wilderness in search of the hidden gems of the forest.
Rich with experience from working in the parks system and as a guide for different outlets, Gibson started up her own business, which has been in operation for the last five years.
“It’s been great, it was actually the coolest decision of my life to stop thinking of myself as an employee and create something that I love to do,” she said.
“Just being a guide, being in the woods, and being an explorer is something I’ve always done. I just never realized I could make this a living as well.”
She offers day trips that last between five to seven hours long in areas like East Sooke, Sombrio and Mystic Beach, and overnight tours along the Juan de Fuca Trail, San Juan Rec Site and Tofino.
The tours include information on local history, ecology and the different types of flora and fauna.
Gibson also makes all the arrangements for food, lodging and transportation, and provides basic training on wildlife confrontation.
“For the most part I’ll take them to those hidden gems like secret waterfalls in Sombrio or out to the Lost Creek suspension bridge and just places that they wouldn’t be able to find on their own,” she said.
“I prefer to take them out somewhere that they wouldn’t be able to find on their own because it’s a real adventure — something they’d remember when they’d go home.”
She said the overnight trips give people the opportunity to leave their blue and white collars behind and connect with one another regardless of what they do professionally.
“You get out there and you shed all those roles and you really connect with people.”
Over the years, Gibson has seen her clientele shift from mainly Americans to Europeans to now Canadians who are exploring their own back yard.
Gibson, who has travelled all over Canada and the United States, said the West Coast is, “definitely the most beautiful part of Canada I’ve ever seen, like hands down, maybe even in North America.”
For more information visit www.daytripdrea.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.