A Goulais River couple is combining their love for nature and adventure into a new hiking and outfitting company that is providing more than just a walk in the woods.
At Forest The Canoe, Ryan Walker and Shana Shipperbottom say they want to provide their guests with unforgettable experiences and help them make meaningful and memorable connections with nature.
“For both of us, nature has always been such a meaningful part of our lives,” said Shipperbottom.
“We have such fond memories of different trips and things we’ve done, and we just want to help people find that connection as well and create memories with their families or their close friends and just have that experience, something they can just look back on and smile about.”
The company is uniquely named after the first canoe the couple bought together.
“Forest is our green canoe. It’s taken us on so many journeys. We have so many good memories with it and we were inspired to name the business after it,” said Shipperbottom.
Walker and Shipperbottom are trained interpretive guides, wilderness first aid certified and experienced backcountry campers, with Walker having graduated from the Sault College Adventure Recreation and Parks Technician program last year.
The pair are originally from Hamilton and moved to Goulais River in 2018 wanting to make the great outdoors a more permanent fixture in their day-to-day lives.
“We would come up here camping, always head north on our vacations so we figured we kind of wanted to turn that into a lifestyle,” said Walker.
Forest The Canoe offers several guided nature tours, camping trips and outfitting. Most of the hikes take place on trails in Sault Ste. Marie north to Lake Superior Provincial Park and difficulty levels are easy to moderate. Paddling gear, canoes and kayaks, if required, will be included in the price of the trip.
The tours offered are seasonal and always include the interpretive feature in which the guides share information and stories about the trails and area – like the popular and sold-out Haunted Hikes at Hiawatha Highlands this month.
These evening hikes take guests through the forest where stories about ghost towns, shipwrecks and graveyards are told. You can book a similar hike – Ghosts of the Greatest Lake – at Pancake Bay Provincial Park.
Other current hiking trips are all about experiencing the Fall colours along the Lake Superior shoreline, Robertson Cliffs and Pancake Bay.
“We were on Robertson Lake and the Fall colours were stunning, and the light was just kind of hitting the highlands and it looked so beautiful, all the oranges and reds and yellows,” said Shipperbottom.
Being on a guided tour, the couple said, is always a great way to enjoy the outdoors and takes a lot of the stress away to have someone experienced with you.
“Sometimes it can be as simple as folks have never gone on a trail at night time before,” said Walker. “Even at Hiawatha, the same trail you might hike during the daytime, you might not feel comfortable to do it at night or understand how to make it safe at nighttime.”
Tour sizes can range from a minimum of 2 people to up to 10, depending on the trip. Prices typically start at $30 per person and the hikes are usually about three hours long. A snack is also included.
For more information on Forest The Canoe and the trips they offer, visit their website.
SooToday recently featured their popular spooky walk in the woods here.