Although an outdoorsy type all her life, Katherine was in her mid-40s when she tackled her first big outdoor adventure on the Yukon’s Chilkoot Trail and has been venturing far and wide ever since. She has trekked on Canada’s West Coast, in the Yukon, through the Himalayas, Alps, and Rockies, and now calls Brisco Mountain in the Columbia Valley home.
Fun fact: She’s an advocate for adventure at any age and at age 47 became the first Canadian female to compete in the 1000 kilometer Mongol Derby. She has ridden horses in the Canadian Rockies, the Andes, the Wild Coast of South Africa, Mongolia, and Drakensberg Mountains of Lesotho. What’s the moral of her story? You can take up an outdoor adventure kind of life at any age.
She is an Interpretive Guide, an OCC Field Leader, a Wilderness First Responder, and an AdventureSmart educator and ambassador.
Supporting community is important to both Katherine and Adrian, and Katherine volunteers on the Board of Directors for Wings Over the Rockies Nature Festival (one of Western Canada’s premier nature festivals) and Summit Trail Makers Society.
Katherine completed her MA in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2019 and her thesis titled “Into the Back 40: Middle-aged Women, Divorce, Resilience, and Outdoor Programs” examined how outdoor programs can help develop resilience in women who have experienced divorce. This research was part of the Inspiration for Back 40 Outdoor Events and for the development of Back 40’s WWW: No Barriers program which provides the opportunity for women who have experienced trauma or life stresses to access the healing power of nature.
Adrian brings over 30 years of military, outdoor, and leadership experience to the camp table. Originally from the UK, he was enticed to Canada by Kathy and the idea of a life in the Canadian Rockies, where he continues to indulge his love of skiing, paragliding, paddling, hiking, and riding.
He has qualified as a ski, paragliding, climbing, diving and paddling instructor, mountain leader and offshore sailing skipper; holds Wilderness First Responder and swift water rescue certifications; volunteers with the Columbia Valley Search and Rescue and Panorama Resort Mountain Friends; and has skied, hiked, dived, sailed, flown, climbed, and ridden in some of the most spectacular places in the world.
He is pretty good at telling Dad jokes and can (literally) talk you off a ledge (if you happen to find yourself stranded on one). He’s definitely the guy to know when it comes to finding your way around the trails.
Roxy, a blue-eyed husky/golden lab joined the team in 2018 and is in charge of the wildlife early warning system. She is skilled at running, retrieving deer antlers, and sniffing out bears.
Islay (pronounced Eye-lah) is a black lab and our newest team member as of spring 2020. She is in charge of team morale and bone disposal.
Back 40 programs are based at Highland Bear, a privately-owned 600+ acre property on the slope of Brisco Mountain north of Radium Hot Springs BC. The property features secluded camping with stunning views of the Rockies, Purcells, and Columbia Wetlands.
We have summer and winter trails, access to the backcountry, and abundant wildlife thanks to our proximity to the Columbia Wetlands and the Luxor Pass – an important wildlife migration corridor between the Rockies and the Purcells.
We had a fantastic experience at Back 40. The setting was stunning and our tents were so cozy, we had a hard time leaving camp. In the evenings we enjoyed stunning sunsets and listening to an owl and distant coyotes while at the campfire. There were lots of amenities to make the experience suitable for a novice or experienced camper. The covered cooking space was really well set up and convenient. We also enjoyed a guided kayak tour through the Columbia Wetlands with Adrian from Back 40 as our guide. Highly recommend having both Katherine and Adrian organize an excursion for you and take in their knowledge of the area. If you are looking for a restorative getaway in nature to truly unplug, this is it!
Leah and Kelsey, Kootz Collective
“You couldn’t ask for a more gorgeous setting, or more supportive, helpful, and good-humoured guides! The accommodations were great, with a nice mix of glamping and back country isolation. Some highlights of the campsite include the real beds inside the beautiful tents on their fancy decks, the well-appointed kitchen hut, and the fanciest loo with a view you’ll ever see. Everything was super clean and organized, with large bear-proof bins available for storing food and other items attractive to wildlife. When it comes to hiking and outdoor activities, the guides are very knowledgeable and encouraging, helping you take some baby steps outside your comfort zone and teaching you how to safely have a blast in the great outdoors. I can’t recommend this place enough!“
Jordan, Roshan & friends
“Our friends and I camped in the bell tents at Back 40 on Brisco mountain, which was also the inaugural camping trip for our 10 month old daughter (and one of our best sleeps in a long time). The photos don’t do the views justice. The property is easy to access, yet you find yourself in the true wild, with all the basic (plus some) needed for a comfortable stay. Kathy and Adrian are approachable, fun, and were great at tailoring our experience so that no one felt out of their depths! We’ll be back often! Thank you so much!” Natasha, Darren & Zara
A wonderful place in the middle of the Canadian wilderness, on the Brisco Mountain Range, with a view of the grandiose Columbia Valley. Hikes are offered here in a wide variety of difficulty levels, so that everyone can find their own taste and choose the respective trail according to their conditions and experience. The guide is at least (depending on the trail) equipped with a GPS device and of course bear repellants, the bears are not uncommon here! The campsite has three large tents for 3 or 4 people which are equipped with very comfortable beds. Each tent is at a sufficient distance from the other tents so that you can spend the night here undisturbed. The wooden platforms on which the tents stand also offer seating to relax in the fresh mountain air. A fireplace with enough firewood, a toilet house and a covered kitchen with running water, electricity, tables and benches make this place heaven on earth. We really enjoyed our activities and the subsequent stay and can recommend the services without reservation.
Ilja & Anna
The PERFECT glamping experience. Booked for a group of women fairly last minute so we could SUP the Columbia River. They provided everything to make our experience comfortable and enjoyable including great river advice. So very clean and private with outstanding views. The outdoor kitchen with cooking appliances, pots, and running water even housed a charging station and had beautiful lanterns for night and lighters for the fire. Kindling and chopped wood were ready to go and the bathroom was so clean. Bear lockers were huge and easy to use. Best part was sleeping on an actual bed in the gorgeous teepees . We might never be able to go back to wilderness camping.
Tanya & friends