With nature in our lives, we thrive. Without it, we’re nothing at all. Hear Fjällräven guide Diana Lee on how Fjällräven Classic does an essential job in making more people enjoy nature’s playground.
There’s a crunch of pebbles and rocks under our feet. The rhythmic sound of footsteps and trekking poles tells us that Fjällraven Classic US is in full swing at an altitude of around 3,500 metres.
To our right, a steep valley dead ends into the ridgeline of the famous Continental Divide. Ahead are layers upon layers of geological history dating back to the dawn of time. There is no better place than the mountains to test your lungs with thin, high-altitude oxygen while filling your heart with nature at its finest.
This section of the trip is expansive, wild and completely untamed. “It’s so important to care and protect wild spaces,” says Diana Lee, a Fjällraven guide from Toronto. Side by side, we traverse this high-altitude section together, laughing and chatting about events like Fjällräven Classic and how they enable people from all over the world to enjoy nature’s playground.
“The most important reason to protect nature is that it keeps us alive. It keeps all the wildlife alive. The water needs to be clean; the air needs to be clean. Plants and trees help filter many pollutants, which we put into nature in order to keep our cities and urban spaces thriving. If we don’t maintain a balance or keep wild spaces green, blue and thriving, we won’t be able to thrive at all.”
Diana’s enthusiasm for life and nature is joyful. Her smile is as wide as the mountains. As we walk and talk, it’s clear that the roots of nature are not only an environment she enjoys and deeply cares for, but it’s a connective root from childhood that she remembers fondly. She shares that her mother put her through swimming lessons at an early age, and this fostered her love for water and being comfortable with it. From there, she was inspired to canoe, kayak and spend time in dragon-boats. Her mother would also take her to the local library: “I would max out my library card and pour over books about nature to try to learn about plants I would find in my local ravine.” It’s by no coincidence that she’s a librarian today; a testament to the positive influence of her mum and her efforts to bring nature into her life at an early age.
As we continue to walk, our conversation drifts to how challenging ourselves in nature benefits us. “It's so important for me to keep challenging myself through events like Fjällräven Classic, as it feeds my curiosity to explore spaces respectfully, to explore new spaces and learn new things.” Diana continues: “It’s a good way to check in with myself and where I’m at physically, mentally, psychologically and emotionally – and spending time in nature invites me to do that.”
Far from the low-altitude water systems of Toronto where she teaches paddle boarding today, Diana is not only at home in nature, it seems to be a place she has come to respect, love, teach and thrive in too. Looking back, it seems powerful and beautiful how important a gentle nudge of influence a parent, friend or role model can have when it comes to helping us find harmony, knowledge and enjoyment in nature.
Like Diana’s mother, all it takes is handing someone the seed of experience, then helping them water and nurture that growth until the point comes when they flower a vibrant garden themselves. It’s likely that years later, that very person has a handful of seeds themselves ready to sow to the next generation of explorers waiting to enjoy the beauty and power of the outdoors, just like Diana.
Contributed by Ian Finch, Fjällräven Friend