A lets go wild group meets to take a walk along the waterfront.

A lets go wild group meets to take a walk along the waterfront.

Let’s go wild

New online resource explores options from coast to coast — starting with the Peninsula

Rain falls as Erin Lukoni drops the tailgate on her truck. A pair of fluffy white dogs await their collars patiently.

Though today is just a quick trek along the Sidney waterfront, the new mom is pumped to pop daughter Cambria in her baby backpack and work her way up Mount Finlayson.

With one click, she can invite 120 people on the hike.

Another tap on the mouse and her entire Facebook friend list is enticed to join her.

With social networking at an all-time high, it was time to take the trend outdoors, says Susan Muller, creator of letsgowild.ca.

“There’s nothing out there to connect people to the outdoors,” Muller says.

With the average age of computer users expanding, and grandparents now tuning in to social networking to keep up with the grandkids, and their peers, online is the perfect place to take social networking into the wild.

Muller noticed numbers growing beyond control while running hikes for a Victoria group. Wait lists to enjoy nature seemed inherently wrong.

“I thought ‘why don’t we create a network to go on and create your own event’,” Muller says. “The outdoors should be free, and everybody needs a fitness buddy.”

With Kuzko and Cailou leashed and baby on back, Lukoni joins the group of new like-minded friends gathered for the event outlined on letsgowild.ca.

“I find it beneficial because you can go on the website and if you’re bored or you have people in town you can just see what other people have on the go,” Lukoni says.

A few strides into the walk, Chris Foster is handling one of the white Samoyed dogs.

She’s met many fellow members, of which there are 120-plus in just the first few months.

“I’m not very social so it kind of gets me out there meeting new people in an atmosphere that I really like doing. And then I can also create events, and then have people join me, where I feel really comfortable,” Foster says. “I have set up a few events on my own. I like doing the Elk Lake walk.”

“Most recently I set up a walk with dogs,” she adds, leading the loaner-pooch along the newly revamped trail on Lochside Drive. “I don’t have a dog so it’s actually calling all dogs to come out and walk with me, because I love dogs. I’m hoping people will come out and have a walk, and I can hang out with some dogs.”

The creativity in creating activities is limitless: Biking, geocaching, walking, camping, kayaking, snowshoeing, dog walking.

“We encourage members to come up with more activities such as speed walking or whatever they are interested in,” Muller says. “I want to give everybody a chance to be a leader.”

She envisions birders and others ‘in the know’ about wildlife leading their own excursions and sharing knowledge.

While she’s started with a Peninsula scope, events are already scheduled CRD-wide, and on the Lower Mainland.

“If you move from here to Nova Scotia, you can stay part of letsgowild and start your own groups there,” Muller explains.

As the network expands, Muller also promises to keep tweaking the features to add discounts for outdoor products, rewards, rating systems, contests and more.