In Nle'kepmxcin, Zúc’mn (Zuc’min) means Red Ochre. This is an important aspect of the company name for founder Tim Patterson.
Patterson founded Zuc’min Guiding to combine his academic education, love of the outdoors, and Nlaka'pamux background. He and his team love to share not just the beauty of nature with others on guided hikes, but also the healing nature of what is around us.
“I do a program called the cultural knowledge of plants,” says Patterson. “This is an ethnobotany course on the trail. It’s different because a lot of people will say you can eat this or use that plant or tree, but they don’t talk about why you use it or when to use it. Also, it’s dangerous to tell people they can eat certain things. It doesn’t matter what plant it is, all plants are toxic if you eat too much of it! You can see that in bear scat. If they eat too many berries it goes through them!
“People nowadays want to learn more and understand what is edible. But things like rose hips, for example, are edible, but you must understand when they are edible, what parts are edible, and if you don’t take the seeds out, it’s an issue. It can be rather toxic if you don’t remove those seeds.”
Those on the cultural knowledge of plants hikes learn about plants from within the Foothills, Montane and Alpine ecoregions, and how these plants are used in Indigenous culture.
“A lot of people think Indigenous plant use in the mountains is historical. I want to get away from that. We still harvest. It’s not a forgotten or neglected practice. It still happens and a lot of people don’t recognize that.”
What advice does Patterson have for new hikers?
“People like to prepare with gear, gadgets, tech, and clothing but the biggest thing is knowledge and having a plan. Gear is nice, but it is not what is going to get you out of trouble. That is the biggest mistake I often see.”
As a certified, Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) guide, Patterson and his team have a front row seat to the damages of climate change on the Athabasca Glacier with Zuc’min’s partner organization Athabasca Glacier Icewalks.
“It’s alarming and has increase melting of ice greatly in the last three months due to the heat wave and wildfire smoke. You can actually see the burned needles of trees that have drifted onto the ice.”
Zuc’min Guiding’s hikes help you deeply appreciate nature, Indigenous culture, learn about edible plants, and much more. For experienced guiding from a team that absolutely loves to share the great outdoors, visit www.zucminguiding.com.