When Niki Choo approached us last Fall with her plans to traverse the most wild parts of the Canadian backcountry via canoe, we thought the same thing anyone would think … they’re going to get hungry! We are proud to be sponsoring a leg of their journey with nourishing camp meals and nutrient rich trail food!
Niki is no newbie to this life of adventure, but her journey to this point has been one of passion, pursuit, and courage.
We sat down with Niki to learn more about this expedition and check in on how the planning is going.
First off…pancakes or waffles? And why?
Haha, ohhh geez, this is a tough call! I’m going to have to say pancakes because I like to eat a lot of fruit with mine. And with pancakes, you can cook bananas or blueberries into the pancake and take them for early morning ski tour snacks.
So, you’re cooking up something big in the Canadian wilderness.
Can you tells us a bit more about what you’ve got tee’d up?
Yes! I’d love to! I’ve always wanted to do a big canoe trip; to be out in the wilderness and feel the ebbs and flows of the days. When I was recovering from knee surgery in March 2020, I started looking at maps and thinking “what if we could connect ocean to ocean”… and that’s where the inspiration came from. We’re paddling from Haines Alaska to Tuktoyaktuk Canada. It’s a really cool route because we’ll have to cross the continental divide and go upstream on a certain portion of the trip. We’re basically covering just over 1000 miles!
How did this passion and interest take hold? Was this a large part of your childhood?
I loved spending time in the water as a kid. I swam competitively for a lot of my childhood and I think that just always made me feel at home in the water. When I tried whitewater kayaking as a 14 year old, I knew it was something I wanted to keep doing. Whitewater has a different smell and being out there with the trees and the birds, the water just drew me in like nothing else I had done before. I had loved canoe tripping at summer camp and I being on the Ottawa River, where I learned most of the whitewater skills, reminded me of tripping … and I think during those first few summers guiding is when I began to think of doing a trip like this.
You’ve done some big things in the wilderness and backcountry … can you tell us a bit about what gets you most excited about this expedition in particular?
There’s so many things I’m excited about for this expedition. It’s hard to name them all, mostly I’m excited about being out there and feeling the ‘season of the day’ so to speak — just to be outside 24 hrs a day for three months. I’m super pumped about the route and the novelty of connecting ocean-to-ocean; I don’t think anyone has done this route before. I’m also super excited about WeGotNext and what we represent as a whole. I think everyone belongs in the outdoors and as a kid, there wasn’t a lot of representation of people who looked like me in the outdoors, and I think that’s a particularly important part of the conversation. So overall, if I could wish for one thing after we come back from the expedition, it’s that it inspires people to do more of the things they love in the outdoors.
I think if we get more people in the outdoors, stewardship of the earth becomes easier because everyone is spending time there.
Certainly this trip will unfold in ways you couldn’t have possibly imagined, but based on what you’ve planned out so far, what are you/y’all most excited about?
It’s hard to pick just one thing I’m excited about! Hah! I think traveling a far distance by your own means is pretty cool. I think seeing the various landscapes and feeling the history of the space, the mountains and the trees have been there for so long and we’re just getting to pop into their world for a quick moment, makes me just feel small and motivated to protect spaces like this, I think is what I feel most excited about.
What drew you to choosing Packit Gourmet meals for this expedition?
I had tried Packit Gourmet meals before and loved the flavoring, they were on the short list of folks I wanted to work with because of their ethical sourcing and had read a little bit about this. When I reached out and had an initial conversation about what Packit stood for, I was really impressed. I wanted to work with companies that care about the quality of ingredients that go into your body, because you’re asking so much of your body while in the wilderness, I want to put premium products in. For me, food is such a luxury, or its part of the day that I look forward to, I really wanted to have the best tastes also another reason why I wanted to use Packit Meals for the expedition. When I talked to Travis and found out that Packit’s roots came from canoeing in the Canadian wilderness, I was like “woah, this is super cool” since I’m also Canadian and, obviously, planning this big canoe trip.
How can we best follow along with your journey this summer?
We won’t have much reception, but we’re going to try relaying our location via Garmin InReach and give updates along the route when we do our food drops, so look for those (@nikichoochoo & @wegotnextorg). But if that fails, look for complete download when we come back!
Niki Choo’s expedition is part of the WeGotNext Ambassadorship Program. Through a 3-year mentorship, WeGotNext supports their Ambassadors as they develop a project/expedition, then become mentors & story-tellers with a goal of inspiring others to become engaged with, and become advocates for, our outdoor spaces.
We sat down with Founder and Executive Director, Scott Brisco, to learn more about WeGotNext.
Hey Scott, can you tell us a little about how WGN got started and what the mission / focus is going forward?
Underrepresented communities have been adventuring, hiking, “sciencing”, farming, and protecting outdoor spaces for generations yet they have been left out of the dominant stories. WeGotNext was founded to amplify and create a sense of belonging for underrepresented communities in outdoor spaces, creating a platform for underrepresented communities to develop their own adventure or project in outdoor spaces and share that store with communities that will find themselves represented in WeGotNext Ambassadors.
Our vision is a world where everyone is inspired to fall in love with nature because they see reflections of themselves in outdoor spaces.
If folks want to support Niki or the mission of WeGotNext, how can they help?
Share Nikis story/expedition with other underrepresented communities . . . you may not know any, but I promise you, we are out there. Share through your typical communities. Connect any organizations or business that would be interested in creating community and partnerships with WeGotNext . . . firstname.lastname@example.org AND Donate!