Wild Northerner Magazine Summer 2017 - Page 45

BY SCOTT HADDOW

Wild Northerner staff

Sarah Hirschfeld finds a way.

The 27-year-old avid adventurer from Sudbury takes on life with zest and a balanced care-free and serious approach. It keeps her as wild and free as she can be, and, more importantly, doing the things she loves from kayaking to yoga to hiking and climbing mountains to riding bike trails to rafting and all kinds of other awesome things done outdoors.

“I accept the choices and sacrifices I’ve made because of the lifestyle I love to live,” Hirschfeld said. “I’ve gone on my own steam. All my experiences have made me opportunistic, resourceful and flexible. It’s good for me and I appreciate the good luck I’ve also had. This is the way I want to live. I don’t know any other way to be.”

Hirschfeld is a masters’ student at The University of Guelph. She has a degree in plant agriculture and an undergraduate degree in environmental science. She recently spent her summer seasons as a rafting guide in Alberta, including two seasons as a white water guide in Jasper. She was also a tree planter for three years. Hirschfeld spent the winter in South America, hiking and learning to become a yoga teacher after putting in 200 hours in Peru and Ecuador during her three-and-a-half month adventure. It was all about creating her own opportunity and then making the most of it. She also learned how to surf and took a four-day self-guided mountain trek in Peru. On New Year’s Day, Hirschfeld rung in the start of 2017 by standing on a mountain top and looking at Machu Picchu. Hirschfeld will live in Golden, B.C. this summer where she is putting all of her recent adventures and acquired skills to good use. She is going to teach people how to do stand-up paddleboard yoga on Cedar Lake.

“I move around a lot and I always got to be doing something different or I get bored,” Hirschfeld said with a laugh. “I have to find balance. If I’m going to be working in front of a computer for half my day, then I must be outdoors the other half. I have fun challenging myself. I find things that motivate me to do more. I do it for the joy of it all. You don’t always have to make your own opportunities, but you always have to be ready to make a jump when opportunity comes along and go with it. I relocated to Calgary with no place to live and not knowing any people there so I could be a rafting guide. You jump at it and work hard. It makes life exciting.”

Hirschfeld doesn’t own a car. She has no problems with this. It doesn’t stop her from seeing the world and what it offers. She has no shortage of ways to get her to the wilderness or anywhere else she must go. She has a bike, kayak, canoe, skis, snowboard, climbing gear and a stand-up paddle board among other things.

“I don’t have a car so I can do all my expensive hobbies,” Hirschfeld said. “I have a lot of modes of transportation including my feet, which I use a lot. I like being active and outside. I have pursued those things my whole life. I get around no matter what. I find ways. It’s fun.”

Max Vendrig met Hirschfeld in Jasper in 2015. They shared an apartment and worked as raft guides. They became good friends. Vendrig recalled a time when the two were on a bus with 20 rafting clients and the bus was involved in a collision and how Hirschfeld leaped into action and kept everyone calm and their spirits up during the situation. That example speaks volumes about Hirschfeld’s character and heart.

“What immediately strikes you about Sarah is the genuine warmth that radiates from her and colours every interaction she has with people,” Vendrig said “She is perpetually sunny and greets every day and every hardship with that can-do attitude, no matter the circumstances. The term ‘strong, independent woman’ doesn't do Sarah justice, but is exactly what she embodies - inner strength and complete independence in her daily life. I recall when we were living in the Rockies together and if Sarah couldn't find anyone to explore with, she'd simply set off on her own solo adventures such as mountain-biking, camping and multi-day treks. She also spent months backpacking around South-East Asia by herself in 2015. She's the type of person who is incredibly sociable, but also very comfortable being on her own.”

Hirschfeld’s zeal for life can be contagious. She is highly motivated to see what the world can serve up next to her in terms of a life experience.

“Her passion for life's pursuits is nothing short of deeply inspiring,” Vendrig said. “Sarah possesses a curiosity for the world and everything it has to offer. She may have big dreams, but more than that, she has the drive and work ethic in which to achieve them too. One thing is for sure, this girl is going places, and I can't wait to see what she does next.”

Hirschfeld comes by her adventurous spirit naturally. Her family had a camp on a lake near Skead. She went there a lot and canoed around the lake. She did canoe trips with family in the Temagami and Killarney areas growing up. Now, she does wild adventures around the world. Hirschfeld sees it all coming together one day.

“I love the mountains, so my life will have me near them,” she said. “I love to grow food. I want to combine my interests at the same time. I want a hobby farm where I grow my own food and teach yoga. I’m going to try and do all of it.”