Ingredients of a great explorer (Part Two)

TA and her group walking the Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal (Photo by TA Loeffler)

TA and her group walking the Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal (Photo by TA Loeffler)

March 9, 2016 | by Kathy Unger

Excerpts and images are taken with permission from TA Loeffler's blog, Adventures that Move.

So you want to be an adventurer?

In Part One I described how being an adventurer, storyteller and teacher are all part of what makes TA Loeffler one of Canada’s top modern explorers. Here I continue to explore (pun intended!) what it means to be a great explorer.


Aspiring adventurers shouldn’t be daunted by the scale of TA’s undertakings. TA says that she firmly believes that adventure and exploration can be found anywhere — a message I keenly appreciate.

TA hangs out in Pippy Park during one of her

TA hangs out in Pippy Park during one of her "loca-ventures" (Photo courtesy of TA Loeffler)

“For me, it’s more of a state of mind than a definition. Though I am well known for my longer and more remote expeditions, I also love to have what I call, ’pocket adventures.’ These are short, often afternoon-long, explorations and navigations of my local environs. Once we went on a pocket adventure in Pippy Park to see if we could follow the remains of the DND [Department of National Defense] fence. We could, and it was a grand loca-venture!” explains Loeffler about an adventure with a partner.

“Mostly for it to be an adventure (to me), there needs to be some sense of the unknown or not knowing how something is going to turn out or what one might find along the way. Given that I am fascinated by nature, it’s always easy to find something new that catches my eye. I’m a keen observer and photographer and love to try to capture what I see out there; but as we know, the image is a poor substitute for the beauty and magic that are found in nature.”

Not only does TA know how to invent her own mini adventures, she has even invented vocabulary to describe it:

Local (adjective): belonging or relating to a particular area or neighbourhood
Adventuring (verb): engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory
Loca-Venturing (verb): combination of ‘local’ and ‘adventuring.’ To explore unknown territory in your local neighbourhood.
~ Excerpt from Loca-venturing: Snowshoeing the Old DND Fence in Pippy Park


TA finds

TA finds "love" on a rugged Atlantic coastline (Photo courtesy of TA Loeffler)

Separate from loca-ventures, TA also knows how to draw inspiration and value from the tiniest parts of a grand adventure. Despite often tight and arduous travel schedules, demanding conditions and challenging logistical limitations, Loeffler has a talent for pausing moments of her ventures and fine-focusing on details — assigning them importance, thoughtfulness and often humour:

“The sound of every footstep. Always heard, most often seen. For centuries. Any trace I leave there will persist. Well beyond me. Even the simple act of a hair falling from my head onto the ice spreads my DNA. …I do try to collect the ones that collect in the vestibule of the tent. Along with the errant goose down, busted toe nails, and other detritus castaways of humanness that we accidentally spread.” ~ Excerpt from Vinson Vignette #1: Lost for Words.


The blend of exploration, storytelling and engagement make Loeffler a spectacular catalyst for inspiring big dreams. A great Canadian explorer, a motivational speaker, photographer, author and a role model for women, men and youth alike, TA encourages us all to take chances and be explorers ourselves:

“I came to see that bravery can be shared. That courage can be lent. That sometimes, all we need is an invitation and a confident friend, to help us cross the threshold to a new experience or new way of being...Let’s go with support, care, and compassion for ourselves and for others especially with courage ebbs low and the risks are huge. Let’s never go to the summit alone but take others along by inviting them on their own summits, by sharing our summits and our valleys, and by sharing bravery and courage along the way.” ~ Excerpt from Volcanopalooza 2016: Sharing Bravery in the New Year.


TA receives a little motivation from TV star, Allan Hawco and his 22,000 plus fans (Screenshot courtesy of TA Loeffler)

TA receives a little motivation from TV star, Allan Hawco and his 22,000 plus fans (Screenshot courtesy of TA Loeffler)

Ok, perhaps TV-watching isn’t necessarily what makes someone a great explorer per se. But just knowing that one of the country’s most highly-accomplished explorers takes time to enjoy the same television shows I do (and is a fellow appreciator of Allan Hawco) helps me feel that TA is real human being and her achievements just might be within the realm of other human beings. Plus, if we could all figure out how to use TV to motivate our own loca-ventures like TA can (see her tweet, left), then I think we’d all be well on our way to conquering our goals.

Let’s accept TA’s invitation to challenge ourselves and take risks. Let’s embrace the outdoor experience and encourage those around us to embrace it with us. Let’s cultivate within ourselves the ingredients of great explorers!

Kathy Unger (Photo courtesy of Kathy Unger)

About the Author

Kathy Unger is the conservation assistant for NCC in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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