Today we’ll be conducting an interview with Lauren Chu who is an experienced traveler and artist based in Canada. She runs a website called The Ridgeline Report which is a blog and art store where you can see her beautiful paintings. She has gained a lot of knowledge and wisdom from being on the road and seeing many incredible places, so we are lucky to learn a few things from this adventurous young lady, let’s start the interview!
Who are you??
My name is Lauren Chu, and my brand is The Ridgeline Report. The Ridgeline Report is my personal blog on active travel and a platform for showcasing my work.
Where are you from? What is your cultural ancestry?
I was born in Toronto, Canada, and am currently based here too! It has been my home my entire life. My mother was born in Hong Kong and father was born in Toronto as well, though his parents immigrated from China.
How long have you been traveling for?
Though I am not constantly on the road, I am lucky to travel often. My family prioritized travel and valued showing us the world. I have visited dozens of countries around the world and have lived in New Zealand and Australia. Currently, I work as a guide leading hiking trips in Canada and beyond and am thus able to travel frequently.
What lessons have you learned during your travels?
The first lesson I have learned in my travels is the importance of being open-minded. Travel is turbulent and uncomfortable by nature, and that is what draws so many people back to it. It is one thing to visit a place, but it is another thing to embrace it. Being open-minded allows you to make more of every experience. Being vulnerable in a new place opens the windows of opportunity wide. The second and arguably more important lesson I have learned is how to respect and enjoy the power of nature. Too often are we holed up stuck behind screens or closed doors. Suffocated by the structures that were built to shield us, it is both simple and radical to remember where we truly thrive: the outdoors! Seeing the power of nature in restoring good physical and mental health has been remarkable, and it is my goal to share this with as many people as possible.
I see that you travel by bicycle, how was that experience?
The longest and most memorable bike trip I have taken was a month-long tour of Vietnam. There, I rode along with two unwitting friends, bought simple bicycles in Hanoi and rode them down the length of Vietnam towards Ho Chi Minh City. Traveling by bicycle allowed me to cover significant distance while still forcing careful observation of the environment and its people. The bicycle attracted many great conversations and local hospitality, and I wouldn’t have wanted to see Vietnam any other way!
Wow, very cool! Would you like to travel again by bike someplace else? Where is the next big bike trip going to be?!
Absolutely! Since my trip in Vietnam, I have done short weekend bike tours in my home province of Ontario. I’m always dreaming of long cycling trips. I think I would like to traverse somewhere in Europe by bicycle, though I haven’t exactly decided where yet. I have been thinking of Slovenia and the surrounding area… Another idea would be a trip down the west coast of the United States, but I am open to ideas!
What other forms of transport have you experimented with?
Through work and also my own preference, I actually spend much more time hiking on my travels. Hiking is slow and easy, and you only rely on yourself. It also takes you much farther into the backcountry than a bike ever could, and thus creates endless more possibilities. I try to avoid cars as much as possible, for both experiential and environmental reasons, but understand that often a car or bus is necessary to get me closer to the places I want to hike. In the summer in Canada, I spent a few long weekends on canoe trips. Paddling is a much more relaxing way to travel and allows me to be on the water most of the day. Here, you are free from bugs and most critters which is a pleasant experience!
Who are some of the craziest or most inspirational people you met while traveling?
Too many to list – I’ll have to skip this one!
What kind of art do you do? How has traveling inspired your artwork?
The art I do is inspired by the trails/routes I hike and bike. Since I discovered it in high school, I have been particularly fond of painting with acrylic paint on wooden boards. I am still experimenting with which wood I like best, but pine tends to give a really cool texture that comes through the image, adding a layer of dimension and complexity. Right now, I am working on a series of paintings of the Brazeau Loop in Jasper, Alberta. Each painting depicts a different point somewhere along the 81km trail. Based on photos I took and my memory of the scene, I have created a number of long landscapes to show this trail. By painting the scenes after I have visited them, it gives me an opportunity to relive the moments and reflect on the spaces we too often take for granted at the moment.
Do you do Plein Air painting (painting while outdoors)?
While on the trail, I have found myself with just a pen and my journal most of the time. I love creating sketches using ink at a campsite, but haven’t ventured into the world of bringing supplies on a trip! I try to pack as light as possible wherever I go!
What’s something motivational or inspiring you can tell people that don’t have experience traveling?
No matter your budget or personal situation, there is a way to incorporate travel and adventure in your life. A walk through the park, but this time observing each moment through a new and inquisitive lens, can be just as exciting as a trip around the world. The important part is noticing the details and taking the time to think critically about these nuances. What is it about that tree that makes it stand tall? Why are the leaves the colour they are? Who is that man sitting on the bench, and what is his story?
Beautiful words! Thanks for sharing with us today Lauren, I think we all could use a nice long healthy hike through the wilderness from time to time. Luckily, the world is filled with many beautiful trails, and people like you are needed to show us just how amazing and precious the outdoors really are!
Below is a photo gallery of Lauren, her art, and travels, enjoy the pics and happy hiking!
Lauren can be contacted directly through her website and social media accounts: