About MB Guiding
We are Vancouver Island’s hiking and backpacking specialists. Our guests come from all over the world to experience the beauty of this wild rock at the edge of the continent. From spectacular mountain peaks to remote coastal routes, Vancouver Island offers a variety of unique and challenging adventures. Hiking is our life and we love our island home!
Every one of our guided trips is a custom experience. We do not offer your typical all-inclusive vacation packages. We are not a travel agency. We are a professional guiding service. And you always know who your guide is going to be. We have spent many years developing programs and experiences, and fine-tuning them based on guest input. We personalize each adventure by carefully screening and selecting guests and matching them to the best trip. From first contact, we start building relationships with our guests.
Each adventure ends up being a one-of-a-kind experience, meticulously planned from scratch with active guest participation. We keep our groups small to provide excellent service, risk management, and rich wilderness experiences. We help people with all of their individual questions and concerns. By the time we start the trip, our guests are prepared, engaged, and part of the team. We take great pride in this collaborative process.
We teach trip planning and wilderness navigation workshops. Instructional programs are just as important to us as guided trips. These events give locals a chance to access the same professional guiding services without the added expenses of long-distance travel or multi-day time commitments. We have a lot of fun at our workshops. We are avid researchers who love to learn and share information. We offer patient and courteous instruction based on decades of professional and recreational experiences in the outdoors.
We write a blog together with a focus on our adventures in the field. Our professionally researched online content is free for all and helps inspire planning for people who do not want or need a guided trip. We do all our own photography, writing, and publishing. We also design, build, develop, and maintain the entire website. These technical and creative activities have been a fantastic learning curve for both of us. We are very proud of each other for the new things we have learned, exceeding all expectations.
Why MB Guiding?
Whether you join us for a guided trip or workshop, we will help you become more comfortable and capable in the wilderness. Your experience will be just like an outdoor professional’s, from trip planning to successfully completing your objectives. You will be able to practice, replicate, and incorporate what you learn into your own outdoor lifestyle for years to come.
If you are looking for an all-inclusive vacation package, where everything is provided and done for you, we are probably not the best fit. We collaborate with other companies who offer that type of experience. We would be happy to refer you to them. If you want to learn new outdoor skills and be a truly active participant in your own custom adventure, then we would love for you to join us.
MB Guiding is an Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) certified guide service. Mike Blake, an ACMG Hiking Guide, is the lead guide and instructor on all trips and workshops. Mike has decades of outdoor experience. He has been guiding and instructing adventure sports since 2004. If you want to pick a professional guide’s brain, ask Mike all the questions you want. Lara Campbell has had a successful career as a professional pharmaceutical scientist. Lara spends a lot of time writing technical papers in her field of expertise. Looking to expand her portfolio, she has been training to become an ACMG Assistant Hiking Guide since 2014. Continuing professional development is an ongoing process for both of us.
“The ACMG is a professional association of trained and certified Mountain Guides, Hiking Guides, and Climbing Instructors.
- We are dedicated to protecting the public interest in mountain travel and climbing instruction.
- We are the only internationally recognized professional association of trained and certified mountain guides and instructors in Canada.
- We set and maintain standards for admission to, and the practice of, the professions of mountain guiding and climbing instruction.”
Reference: ACMG website
We have a unique combination of skills. We are a team of two that unexpectedly found love in exploring and discovering the wilderness together. Our relationship began on the trails of Strathcona Provincial Park. Inspired by each other’s devotion to growth and change, and the desire to support each other’s passions, we made a fresh start together and created MB Guiding in 2014. We are pretty certain that we are the only guiding company made up of a pharmaceutical scientist / technical writer and an ACMG Hiking Guide. We’ve pushed each other’s comfort zones and improved our lives more than we could have hoped.
Mike lives and breathes every day with a high-spirited love of the outdoors. He’s always eager to share his passion and enthusiasm with everyone around him. Mike has a particular interest in our diverse wildlife, geography, and history. He combines his technical expertise with wilderness education and natural interpretation. Mike delivers his outdoor knowledge in fun and entertaining ways, and loves to share his philosophy of a lightweight lifestyle on and off the trail. Since 1995, he’s called Vancouver Island home.
Lara was born and raised on Vancouver Island. She has a life-long appreciation for wild places and new adventures. Curious about the natural world, she loves the physical challenges of hiking and backpacking. Lara draws from her science background to gain new knowledge, skills, and self-confidence as an aspiring hiking guide. Her newest hobby is studying evolutionary biology. Lara enjoys writing about our adventures for the blog and inspiring appreciation for animals and their wilderness homes.
We are big believers in a lightweight philosophy on and off the trail. After years of traditional backpacking, we discovered a better way to trek. By researching the lightweight style of hiking, we have decreased our own pack weights. The rewards include increased agility, fewer injuries, lower gear expenses, and more enjoyable trips. It feels great to lessen our impact on the environment with lighter steps. We have the energy to appreciate the adventure, and arrive at camp with stamina to spare.
We love the animals. One of the joys of a wilderness experience is seeing animals alive and happy in their natural homes. Being vegan means that we avoid consuming or wearing animal products. Science indicates that a vegan lifestyle may benefit human health and that of the environment.
Our goal is to inspire our guests to try new things and show them how delicious, fun, and easy an outdoor vegan lifestyle can be. Our intention is not to convert people. You don’t have to be vegan to join our trips. In fact, most of our guests have been omnivores. Guests bring their own personal day snacks. Bringing your own snacks without restrictions allows experimenting with our food while not missing yours. Our nutritious and satisfying vegan breakfasts and dinners have pleasantly surprised even our most skeptical guests. Dehydrated vegan meals are also ideal for long backpacking trips from a food safety and lightweight standpoint. The menus are balanced to match hiking intensity.
We love to answer questions and share what we have learned. Lara has been vegan for 16 years and Mike for 4 years. We invite you to be curious, open-minded, and try something new during your wilderness adventure with us.
One of our greatest pleasures is helping repeat guests experience a new adventure. Sometimes past workshop participants book a guided trip to practice their new skills. Other times, guests desire new terrain challenges in different locations. Several of our guests are quite skilled in the outdoors, but enjoy the safety, camaraderie, and logistics advantages of joining our guided trips.
Our relationships with these folks span many years, evolving into friendships near and far. We help fulfill personal hiking dream lists. Our alumni always book well in advance for their next trip, often up to a year. We are a small company and they know that space is limited. We are always delighted when a past guest contacts us to see what we have planned for the next hiking season.
At least 3-4 times every day of our hike on the West Coast Trail, I thought to myself: “I am soooo glad we have a great guide!” Mike made our trip stress-free, safe, fun, educational and memorable. Without him, it would not have been the same positive experience. He helped us plan and pack before we started on the trail; the importance of preparation cannot be overstated! His knowledge of the trail meant we did not have to stress every morning about a route for the day. He made sure he set a pace that was doable for everyone in the group, including short breaks throughout the day. He kept us informed about the environment around us and always had interesting stories. Mike was super positive and optimistic, always encouraging us when the trail conditions seemed daunting. He was willing to answer our million and one questions. At the end of the day he helped set up camp and gave us ample down time to relax and recover. The meals he provided were delicious! He helped bring our group together so we worked well as a team. I have nothing but good things to say about Mike. I would recommend him to anyone without question. Worth every penny!Margie, Airdrie
Mike was my guide for a trip on the West Coast Trail in July of 2017. His guiding expertise made the trip run smoothly and he kept things very well organized. His extensive knowledge about the trail itself, especially the shipwrecks, and his unwavering enthusiasm for hiking/guiding really added to my trail experience. Overall, the trip was fantastic, challenging, and fun. The provided meals were absolutely fantastic, (Lara’s granola is the best thing ever!), and I felt very well cared for on my trip. I plan on hiking with MB Guiding again in the future and would highly recommend them to anyone seeking an excellent wilderness experience!Julie, Taiwan
Thank you for an incredible day! Justin is still beaming about being able to climb a summit. I had a great day, too, thanks to you. You encouraged without pushing, made it fun even though it was hard work at times. We always felt comfortable and that we were in good hands. Thanks again for making this possible. The day and the ascent were the highlight of Justin’s and my visit here this year.Barry and Justin, Toronto
Mike is very personable and detailed individual and combines these attributes very well to offer a most enjoyable outdoor experience. He loves to share his knowledge of all things outdoors allowing him to accommodate moderate excursions for the novice and something unique for the more adventurous. Local knowledge is key to Mike’s success and he’s always improving. From the mountaintops to the sunny shores it’s always a great joy to be out and about with Mike.Kevin and Christine, Calgary
Mike is insanely knowledgeable, infectiously passionate, and absolute pro..on the trail and in the office. Mike LOVES what he does and every client leaves his hikes/tour/program with a strong connection to him and the area he’s brought you to. He’s the BEST guide I’ve ever worked with and nobody knows Vancouver Island better than Mike.Jason and Jennifer, Vancouver
I first met Mike in 2008 when he was the lead guide for a wellness / hiking vacation that I took on Vancouver Island (contracted via a local resort). Mike proved himself to be an expert in many ways. He adapted our daily hikes based on weather conditions as well as experience and capabilities of the hikers. He provided encouragement when I thought a hike was too challenging, showing me how to set my own pace and tackle obstacles. His knowledge of the areas we hiked was tremendous. He seemed to know the answer to every question that I threw his way (and I always have many questions!). I enjoyed that first two week trip so much that I quickly signed on for a trip the following year which I enjoyed just as much as the first.Bernadette, Boston
Thanks to MB Guiding for running a terrific Trip Planning and Leadership course. This is a great workshop for folks with novice to intermediate skills who are looking to expand their hiking and backpacking horizons and gain some very valuable resources and skills around leading trips and planning larger adventures. Even though I am a fairly experienced backcountry traveller the course format and Mike and Lara’s collaborative approach made for an exciting exchange of information from everyone present that sent me home with both new knowledge and valuable refinement of existing knowledge and skills. Thanks for a great workshop and a weekend well spent.Bil, Nanaimo
In true workshop style, Mike often lead by opening up discussion on a topic and encouraged everyone’s participation as he guided us through the content. Everyone could learn something here and new tips were bountiful from both Mike and many in the group. Constructive discussions took place. I found much of the workshop very thought provoking, even afterwards. On day two we ran through several practical scenario’s and this was excellent. I also found that I was able to compare how a professional prepares and can compare this to how I prepare and found it reassuring in what and how I’m doing and where I could improve things.Rick, Victoria
Mike guided our family of three across the wilds of Strathcona Park. The initial trail is a pleasant stroll with a gentle climb the next day up to Mt Albert Edward for gorgeous views of all the peaks. So far, literally a walk in the park… but once we started to hike down the other side the real adventure began. This is when you see the merits of an experienced guide, as Mike’s knowledge of the ridge came in handy to avoid sharp drop-offs and also to pass the packs down one by one to lower the risk of slipping on the steep slopes. We made camp in a lovely little clearing with the full moon overhead – just us and the birds. The next day we hiked across to Ruth Masters and had the crystal clear waters all to ourselves. The early morning ascent of the Augerpoint really demonstrated Mike’s good understanding of the terrain. We had to be nimble footed to scramble up the path, but it is well worth the effort as the views at the top are spectacular with both coasts of the island visible in the distance. A great traverse, which we would thoroughly recommend.Stuart, Yumi & Kai - London UK
My wife and I hired Mike to guide us along the rugged and beautiful Nootka Trail for the six-day, 35-km trek. Mike’s enthusiasm was evident the minute we met him at the float plane, and that enthusiasm never waned and was matched by his knowledge, commitment and culinary skills. Despite the ruggedness of the trail, we always felt safe and confident, yet still challenged, allowing us to enjoy the trip and the many sites and features Mike pointed out. The pace he set was perfect for all four members of our group. His commitment to detail was evident, and he presented a perfect balance of guiding while allowing us to enjoy our own personal experiences. As a result, the trip was very memorable and we would certainly recommend Mike to anybody considering his services.Toby and Mary, Nanaimo
Mike has guided me and my family through the North Coast Trail on Vancouver Island. We had an excellent time. The whole organization was on very short notice and everything worked out great for us. Would not hesitate to have Mike as a Hiking Guide again!Alfred, Switzerland
Despite the rain and cooler than average temperatures Mike remained positive and always helpful. We learned a lot from Mike during our trip specifically the importance of staying put to stay warm and safe and how to set up camp to make it comfortable in rainy weather. Mike is very knowledgeable about hiking and he is methodical about being safe in the back-country. We really appreciated that Mike is always ready to have fun and he has lots of interesting stories to tell about the local area. Both of us had an excellent experience on our Della Falls hiking trip with Mike.Catherine and Bruce, Vancouver
Mike was incredible, he sorted out my accommodation and planned a personalized, fun packed and varied two days of hiking. If you are looking for a guide who is efficient, dedicated, knowledgeable and full of enthusiasm, then Mike is your man. I have never met anyone who has so much passion for what he does and who knows so much about the history of Vancouver Island, the culture, terrain, flora and fauna. Mike instinctively tailors the intensity appropriate for one’s physical ability. He showed me amazing feats of animal engineering (magnificent beaver creeks) and taught me how to identify animal tracks, filter drinking water from the river and a few other survival tricks. If you are looking for an amazing experience, then you can’t go wrong with Mike; he is one terrific guide. Thank you Mike and I will see you again soon for our next adventure.Choi, Hong Kong
Mike was extremely knowledgeable of all aspects of his job. Our daily hikes depended on weather permitted, where we hiked and how long we hiked that day. He got to know my boy friend and I instantly, made an assessment based on our age, level of activity and interests and planned our days accordingly. I was impressed with his ability to help us achieve the goals we set out to accomplish. Thank you Mike for the incredible experience!Amy, Chicago
Mike taught us many tips for preparing for a trip (gear lists, communication, planning apps, etc) and I think all participants left the weekend knowing that the pre-trip preparation is quite likely one of the most important aspects of leading a trip.Alois, Victoria
Thank you for leading such a great course today. We really enjoyed ourselves and got a lot out of it. We’d both be very interested in an advanced version to build on these new skills.Silas and Irini, Nanaimo
Mike was a very personable expert who had all the bases taken care of and his attention to detail always provided us with fabulous results!Peter and Shiela, Calgary
I want to thank you again for the great workshop! So well organized, information was presented in a way that even a map-novice like myself could understand and apply the knowledge. I went home and took another look at a map I’d bought in Death Valley NP and now see it through different eyes! Wow, so helpful. I’d definitely recommend this class to anyone. And Mike you have a such a nice way of presenting and talking with people. It’s very exciting to think about using my new knowledge.Elaine, Courtenay
MB Guiding is a small team of two, but we work closely with an extended family of service providers, land managers, tourism organizations, outdoor clubs, local businesses, and outdoor brands.
- Air Nootka
- Alpine Club of Canada – Vancouver Island Section
- Ambassador Transportation
- Association of Canadian Mountain Guides
- BC Parks
- Cape Scott Water Taxi
- Comox District Mountaineering Club
- Della Falls Water Taxi
- Get West Adventures – MV Uchuck III
- Hello BC
- Island Mountain Ramblers
- Mountain Equipment Co-op
- Mountain Hardwear
- Nomad Nutrition
- North Coast Trail Hostel
- North Coast Trail Shuttle
- Parks Canada
- Slipstream Wilderness First Aid
- Strathcona Wilderness Institute
- Take a Hike Vancouver Island
- West Coast Trail Express
- Wild Isle Publishing