Nicola Roberts-Fenton wants you to experience the serenity of laying on your back on a mossy bed in the Tobeatic forest, listening to leaves rustling and birds singing overhead.
Her plan for a business devoted to wilderness tourism is well underway thanks to $1,000 awarded after her entrepreneurial pitch at the Jan. 26 Ignite Tourism Startup event.
Although she sees adventure as a major aspect of the business, she also hopes to appeal to those who’d like to spend quality time in nature in a more relaxing experience.
Adventure and discovering exciting new places in her own backyard are her passions, although she also values quiet reflective time, surrounded by the forest, with her toes in the river.
Roberts-Fenton believes it’s important to highlight the “awesome gem” in her backyard – the Tobeatic Wilderness Area that fringes her community - nearly 250,000 acres of protected wild, natural beauty.
Growing up, she canoed with her father, explored old-growth forest and has gone kayaking over the past 10 years.
She says some of the “fine men” from the elite sport tourist era inspired her, in addition to present-day friends and relatives.
“I sat listening to some men my age talk about backwoods canoe trips and was captivated by the stories and the places and the gear, the camaraderie… and I thought, I want in, but I’m sure these are guys’ trips. And they’ll likely think I’ll slow them down…and I felt hopeless. I’m over that now,” she said.
Some of the trips she organizes will be focused on helping other women to experience the wilderness.
“I think that there are wild and strong ladies out there that want to experience the outdoors and would value having someone who would cheer them on and guide the way,” she said.
She’s inclusive and open to all interested parties.
“I’m sure there are men out there who feel the same way I did. I love meeting new people and sharing my ‘backyard,’ I would welcome all potential clients.”
Roberts-Fenton says the Ignite event inspired her to develop this business.
“I’ve wanted to put this in motion for a long time now; I hesitated because of fear. The more it progresses the less afraid and more excited I feel. Ignite really helped break me out of the rut I was in. Meeting others who were excited about my ideas and believed in me was so uplifting.”
This year, she’ll be focusing on training and logistics for the business. Her goal is to be prepared to launch in 2020.
She’s keen to hit the trails with others.
“Whether you want an adventure, including four days backwoods, deep in the Tobeatic, possibly followed by some R&R at Trout Point Lodge, or an afternoon hike, forest bathing, maybe a day of paddling on the Tusket River, a night at the Birchdale retreat followed by mountain biking on day two... What you want and are able to do is exactly what I want to offer you.”
More about the Tobeatic Wilderness Area
The Tobeatic Wilderness Area is the largest protected area in the Maritimes. It protects the headwaters of nine major rivers which flow to both the Atlantic and Fundy coasts, and is among the most significant and undisturbed places for wildlife, biodiversity conservation and wilderness recreation in Nova Scotia.