Posts tagged adventure

Finding Freedom: An Escape Into BC’s Backcountry

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The following is an article I wrote for the 2012 Norco Brand Book. All photos are by Pat Mulrooney. For more photos from the trip this is from though, have a look at this blog article.

 

Riding a bike today holds the same joy that it did as I shed my training wheels two decades ago. In my three-foot-tall world, riding a bike was new found independence; it was something that I could be in control of. My bike was a glimpse into the world beyond fences, doors, parents and rules. My bike was my first taste of freedom.

Today life is different. Gone are the worry-free days of childhood, replaced with the rigors of responsibility and the daily struggles and routines of grown-up life. While challenges have shifted away from worrying about being picked last in gym class to paying bills and staying ahead at my job, the solution to today’s problems remains the same. My bicycle is my escape, my carefree source of exhilaration. I have moved beyond the sidewalks and playgrounds, past the city streets and local hills of my youth and into the backcountry. When I am away from the rustle-bustle of life and deep in the wilderness — that is where I feel truly free. I am free to explore, free to sort out the troubles of my mind and free to ride!

My local riding spots may be a daily reminder of what is important and what can be forgotten, but escaping into a distant backcountry adventure can be the perfect way to get a clear view of the road ahead. One place that provides such an experience is the Chilcotin mountain range of British Columbia; it serves up a childlike sense of exhilaration in adult-sized portions. Taking off for an extended weekend with friends is an excellent way to forget about our First World problems and get back to the basics, back to freedom. A couple of months ago this was the ideal backdrop for a well-needed recharge and escape from the everyday, so a couple of friends and I decided to get back in touch with what is important.

Accessing the Chilcotin area via floatplane, we embarked on a three day journey through this remote, beautiful and challenging terrain. The access alone was a step into the dark. Once the plane slipped over the horizon and the sun faded into the evening sky we were on our own. Life went back in time, leaving us with a starlit sky, our friendship and our bikes. Ripe with anticipation over the next days’ adventure, we called it an early night and tried to get some sleep.

The next morning I awoke to a frost-laden bivy, and the crisp mountain air was refreshing as I drew in a lungful. It was peaceful and serene as the sun crested over the surrounding mountains and we started the day off with a cup of hot java to warm our spirits and insides. As the line of sunlight made its way down the hills and into camp, the air warmed, the ground thawed and we packed up for our first day of adventure. We set out at a lazy pace to warm up.

The mountains were tall and the valleys deep, making our travel slow and methodical. Throughout a 10-hour day we traveled through snow and rivers, over high passes and across lush valleys, rarely witnessing any signs of civilization. It was just us: three friends and three bikes travelling through the wilderness, experiencing childlike freedom and awe at the world around us.

As the day wore on, the promise of camp was a carrot on a string: dangling just over the next rise, down the next hillside, out of reach and out of sight. After what seemed like forever we finally reached camp. With the sun sinking into the horizon, a fire replaced the warmth and light from above. The cold evening air settled in and we gathered closely around the fire as the stars made their appearance in the sky above.

A dinner of dehydrated chili and some warming whiskey seemed oddly elegant in this rustic, sparse setting. Our rations may well have been filet mignon as we huddled around the fire talking about the day’s adventure and savouring each and every bite of our meals. My legs ached and my mind buzzed with the thought of the next day’s journey. I slipped back into my bivy home for a second night and sleep rushed over me instantly.

The next morning the sun climbed over the hills, chasing the shadows away and the cool air bit hard. Our legs feeling the fatigue of the previous day’s long work, we started with a hike, a steep ascent over a shale slope towards our destination. As we pushed onwards we thought about the looming journey through an unknown region of wilderness.

We aimed to crest through Castle Pass, an area where the wind, rain, ice and snow had chipped away at the ancient peak, shaping it into a massive tower that overlooks the entire range like an ancient sentinel. On the final ascent to the pass, breathing was deep in the thin mountain air and our concentration was firmly focused on our goals. The weight of my pack added to the fatigue in my legs, making them feel heavy and awkward as every step was a challenge. This was the joy; the torture is what drove me. I was here to push myself, try new things and experience that same freedom I remembered from my childhood. Knowing that the vicious climb would be rewarded with a gluttonous, seemingly endless descent on the other side kept me going.

As we approached the summit of Castle Pass, we saw the horizon slowly emerge, giving a sense of scale not only to the location but also the accomplishment of conquering this climb. Exhaustion gave way to elation – this was the freedom I came for. We stopped to reflect on the magnitude of our achievements and serenity of the moment. It didn’t matter if this was my local trails or a multi-day journey — cycling is about freedom, adventure and achievement. Riding my bike is where I can focus on what is truly important and forget the rest. Without my bicycle I would not have the clarity in other aspects of my life I require on a daily basis. This is where I find my clarity.

Cresting this pass was the moment where my mind was able to free itself from the shackles of daily life. This was by no means the end of our ride but it represented the pinnacle of freedom. At this point, life was simple and focused on what matters: friends, nature, my bike and me. This is where I felt freedom and the same simple sense of bliss that my bike introduced me to so many years ago.

May your bike be your inspiration.

Dustan

A Late Summer Chilcotin Adventure

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The Chilcotin Mountains are close to the town of Goldbridge at the North end of The Hurley FSR. After a 4hr drive from North Vancouver and a short Float Plane ride, the city was a distant memory and the open wilderness was the reality. The trip was with two co-workers who had both been in the area before. Pat a seasoned vetran of the area would be the guide for a three day adventure.

Over the course of three days we covered approximately 75km and climbed approximately 4000m. Through some greuling hike-a-bikes, wicked singletrack and adrenalin pumping descents it is hard to not appreciate the terrain. This truly is a magnificent place. The views, wildlife and mountain biking are all spectacular.

View Larger Map

The above map shows the approximate area where we traveled. The first night was at Warner lake. From here we made our way over Deer Pass to Card Table Mountain. We then crossed over Castle Pass to Spruce Lake then up and over Windy Pass and Lick Pass back to Lake Tyax. An amazing trip that I am sure will reign as one of my favourite adventures for many Years to come. A big thanks to Pat Mulrooney for making the trip happen and Eric Lalonde for making the trio complete.

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And at the finish, I think Pat and Eric may have lost it a little bit…

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Twin-Creek Camping Outside Pemberton

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Went on a camping trip this past weekend to the Twin creek Forestry campground outside Pemberton BC. Gorgeous spot on the lake for swimming, lounging and having a few beers. Great area for car-camping! There are actually four different camping areas in the area along the forest service road. If you are looking for somewhere to camp that is out of the city but easy to access this is a great option.

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There is a set of “hot-springs” down the FSR about 45km. We went to go find them and was it ever a dissapointment. Besides the two flat tires, once we arrived there was a $7.50 fee per person for what turned out to be a naked-old-man tub-style bathing area. The pemberton camping is awesome, do not bother with the hot-springs

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Here are a few more shots of the lake. Great weekend camping area!

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Scaling the Walls of Black Mountain

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Black Mountain Panorama

There are so many hikes in and around the Vancouver area. One pretty famous trail is the Baden Powell. While not many people hike the 45km trail that runs from Deep Cove to Horeshoe Bay there are segments that make for great day hikes. There is one such segment that starts at the West end of the Trail in Horseshoe bay. A small pullout next to the ferry on Horseshoe Bay Road marks the trail head and the hike starts off wide and moderate. Soon though the trail starts up the steep side-slope of Black Mountain. This is a switchback climb that makes your quads and glutes have a bit of a workout. There are also a couple of Rock-Slide areas that you must scale to get to the top. Not overly challenging just a bit of a workout and some uneasy footing. Once through the slide areas there is a little more trail before an easy rock scramble to the top. Once at the summit there is a 270 degree view looking from the sunshine coast panning over to downtown. Beautiful hike and a great reward. This took around 3hrs return at a decent hiking pace.

I found this info on the hike. I don’t Buy it though. I would peg it more around 12km. It is also listed as a 7hr hike

Elevation Gain: 1192 m
Start Elevation: 25 m
Max Elevation: 1217 m
Total Distance: 16.0 km (return)

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I thought spring was here, apparently I was wrong.

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Coming up to the end of February, it seemed to me that Spring was close. It was getting warmer, flowers were starting to sprout and the days were seeming longer. With that in mind, the bike came out and was ready to spring into the season. But… then it started snowing, raining, freezing and getting pretty much miserable. Oh well, any day on the bike is a good one right?

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Starting off 2011 with a bit of a slower pace

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The start of 2011 was not necessarily one big adventure. I had no grand destination, no epic ascent, no definable goals of discernible value. This is no white flag though, I have not thrown in the towel on life and all things adventurous. Rather the opposite occurred, for the winter break I took it upon myself to enjoy some of the short and sweet gems close to home. Through snowshoeing, mountain biking, running, and spending time with good friends the holiday and new year was brought in with smiles, friends and high expectations in the year to come.

The following photos are justifiably not all related and not all part of one single story. They do all though, represent the theme of the holidays. These photos show the beauty of the outdoor world, the beauty of the city around and the joy of spending time with friends.

As Cheesy as this all sounds, it is ultimately true…

 

Happy New Year

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A hemisphere away makes for a bit of a story to tell

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My latest endeavor took me all the way to the other side of the World. Over the span of three weeks I travelled down the west coast of Australia seeing as much as possible between Cape Tribulation and Sydney. Starting off in Cairns, I drove north through Daintree and up to Cape Tribulation. Following this, the drive took me South along the coast to Airlie Beach where a three day sailing trip was in order. Wow, if you you are ever in the area, spring the cash and go for a sail. It is worth every penny. Post sailing, I continued South to Brisbane where I spent a few days before venturing to the Gold Coast. From the Gold Coast, a bit of a short cut was in order so after flying to Sydney I finished off the trip in the city.

Between the beautiful beaches, incredible nature, wonderful cities and of course the people Australia is a magical place. Worth every second and every penny. As with my lack of writing style of the blog, let’s get the photos to tell the story. Which ones are your favorites? If you really like them, check out more in the complete flickr album.

The Ferry to Daintree National Forest

A Single Mangrove Tree reaching into the sea

A basking crock, warming in the morning sun

The magnificent Cassowary, showing off its colours

Camping, Australia Style... (it is a bit different)

Sailing the Whitsunday Islands on the S.T. Whitehaven

The sleaping sailor, settled in for the night

The distance view of Surfer's Paradise

The sun setting over Miami Beach on the Gold Coast

Day time activities on the Gold Coast are… As expected…
No Australia trip is complete without…
As I said, the wildlife was magnificent.
A walk on the beach beside the setting sun
The Cormorants had vibrant faces like no other.
The Opera House is a staple of Sydney. The incredible texture is not always illustrated though.
This is a little more typical, but Sydney was a great place to end a wonderful trip. I would love to go back soon and see all that was missed.

If you skipped reading at the top, you missed out on this link… check out more photos from this latest trip at flickr.com

 

Until next time, Happy Travels!

 

Dustan

Moab Utah – Red Rock Rumble

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So, I was recently able to make a trek to Moab Utah (for the second time) and what an area it is. From incredible vistas, amazing rock formations and a sporting environment out of this world if you have never been I would suggest adding it to the list. Here are a few photos from the trip.

Adoring the View

Wile-E-Coyote Rock

A beautiful spire

Sunset

The Weather Can Change in a Heartbeat

There are a few photos but there are many more up in this flickr album. Have a look through and comment on anything you like. I also through together a bit of a photo/video montage from that trip so if you have a few minutes to spare check this out!

Hiking the Tetrahedron Provincial Park

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A great place to go hiking/camping is the Tetrahedron Provincial Park. Out of Sechelt BC, this is a ski/snowshoe area in the winter and a great hike in the summer. There are 4 cabins in the area ranging from 2-10km from the main parking lot. These photos are the hike out to Mt Steele which is about 8km out. This hike can be done in a day but also makes for a great over night trip. More info on the area can be found at http://www.tetoutdoor.ca/. Also a few more photos can be found on flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dustansept/sets/72157624642242980/

Intended Usage?

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I recently upgraded my camera, but didn’t get rid of the old one. I am starting to think though that is would be a great camera to bring along on outdoor adventures. It is light and small, plus I am not as worried about damaging it…

This photo does not exactly represent the intended use of this bike… Meh, if it can handle it, goes to show something about the bike.

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