“Adventure” is Sarah Tokarek’s middle name.
At least it is online, where the Blind Bay resident goes by the handle Shuswap Adventure Girl, the name given to her website/blog and social media presence through which she shares her hiking experiences in the region, as well as a wealth of information about local trails, current conditions and other pertinent information.
Born and raised in the Yukon, Tokarek’s father was a conservation officer and both her parents were avid outdoorspeople. Tokarek inherited their adventurous spirit and passion for being outside.
About 10 years ago Tokarek and her husband made their way south from Prince George to the Shuswap, where she longed to discover new outdoors experiences.
“I was at home with newborns, I couldn’t find a way to get outdoors, I didn’t know what to do,” said Tokarek. So the family began heading out on weekends to hike the region’s numerous trail systems.
“Every single weekend, we’d grab a back-road map book, we’d grab the trail guide, we go… all over the place, we do it all,” said Tokarek. “I have three small kids. We all love it.”
Tokarek began receiving questions from friends, and strangers, interested in hiking in the region and wanting to know more about where to go, what to see, what to pack, etc. She began thinking of herself as a sort of Welcome Wagon for the area, happy to help people learn more about what she’s discovered. This eventually led to the creation of her Shuswap Adventure Girl blog.
Since then, hiking and promoting Shuswap trails has become something of a full-time job for Tokarek, whose vision is for Shuswap Adventure Girl to become an established local guiding outfit for the region.
While she has only praise for the Shuswap Trail Alliance, of which she’s a member, Tokarek has found some information gaps she hopes to fill, such as categorizing local hikes that are suitable for families or for seniors who may have mobility concerns. She said she’s been contacted by a lot of seniors wanting to know more about trails and trail access.
The top three questions Tokarek receives, however, are if she’s done a particular trail, what trails might be suitable for people with small kids and, despite it being available on The Shuswap Trailwebsite, information regarding trail distances and difficulty.
Asked about her favourite hiking areas, Tokarek, without hesitation, championed the South Shuswap.
“We are so lucky here to have what we have,” said Tokarek. “We have so many trails here. The Tappen Bluffs is a very unknown trail but it offers incredible views and it’s not much effort to get there.
“The Margeret Falls upper loop. Everybody knows Margaret Falls but the upper canyon is a totally different view of what we all know and love.”
Tokarek also spoke highly of Sicamous for having incredible trails that range from family friendly (Riverfront Nature Trail) to more challenging hiking options.
While Tokarek loves going on outdoor adventures with her own children, she’s looking forward to having the grandparents babysit this summer so she and her husband can do an overnight hike on Pukeashun Mountain in the North Shuswap. She’s also looking forward to visiting the old-growth rainforest of Upper Seymour River Provincial Park, something she’s learned about from friend and Shuswap Passion writer Jim Cooperman.
“He’s a wealth of knowledge,” said Tokarek.
Asked what advice she has for those keen to experience their own Shuswap adventures, Tokarek stressed you don’t have to have expensive gear to enjoy the outdoors.
“You’ve just got to go out and try it…,” said Tokarek. “It’s never going to be a waste of time. You’re out seeing something and you feel so good when you accomplish a hike – you’ll feel like you’re at the top of the world, looking at the Shuswap from a different view.”