Posts tagged dustan sept

Finding Freedom: An Escape Into BC’s Backcountry


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.


A Costa Rican Road Trip


With the busyness of summer and fall passing a week away from the usual in somewhere hot and tropical was long overdue. Kelly and I took the trip down to Costa Rica and rented a vehicle out of Liberia. From here we spent 7 days exploring the Nicoya Peninsula in the Northwest corner of this amazing country.


As could be expected, a good portion of the trip was spent in the ocean and on the beach drinking beer. Not the worst way to relax in a Central American country.


The highlight beach-front location for the trip was Samara Beach. Here we pulled up and booked two nights in the Samara Tree House Inn. This is definetly worth the money. Small, quiet and classy these elevated, beach front apartments offer luxurious accommodations with the intimacy lacking in a larger facility. 2012_11_CostaRica-477

Being that we were on the West Coast of Costa Rica, the evening light was always amazing offering sunsets and beautiful views as the glow settles beneath the horizon.


Once the sun sets though, that is not the end of it. The Samara accommodations were just as magnificent in the dark as they were in the tropical sun.


One unexpected happening of chance put us in the area during a full moon when the phosphorescence given off by plankton was at its height. The glow coming in off the crashing waves was out of this world.


The night sky was simply spectacular while the full moon gave the foreground a magnificent glow.


No vacation is complete without some quality micro-brewery action right, well part of our trip we made a point of stopping at the Volcano Brewing Company. This is the only micro-brewery in Costa Rica and is situated in Arenal at the base of the Arenal Volcano. Here they serve four different beers brewed on site giving some diversity from the otherwise ‘beach pilsner’ style of beer.




The whole trip was not on the beach. In fact our time was split approximately 50/50 between the beach and the mountainous interior. It was inland where the nature fix took place and we were able to get some hikes under our belts.


This is a bridge crossing a valley in the Monteverde Cloud Forest.


The view below the bridge was a spectacular aerial view of the valley floor.


Next to the Cloud Forest is a hummingbird observatory where feeders are set up to attract the many species in the area.



The Coatimundi is a Marsupial that we found in plenty at the Arenal Volcano. As neat as it was to see this raccoon like creature, it was even more interesting to see the territorial battle happen on the forest floor.

2012_11_CostaRica-356Not all the wildlife was in the forest though, Iguanas were a beautiful site chilling on the beach and in the trees.


Watching the Pelicans hunt is another spectacular show while relaxing on the beach.


Okay, I won’t lie though. It did rain a bit.


If you are curious about the trip or want to know more about where we went here is a map of the road trip. If you take on a trip like this, do not use google maps as a reference for time. The times and distances are very unreliable in the presence of many gravel roads and marginal driving conditions. If you have additional questions feel free to leave your comments below.

View Larger Map

The Making of a Champion


I have been working for a while now with Yess Products, Norco Bicycles and Jill Kintner on the production of her custom Slalom bike that she raced in Sea Otter. The idea was to follow the bike from start to finish. The full article can be found on but here are a few shots and a video from the production process.


Vancouver Whitecaps vs. DC United at BC Place


Ever since the Whitecaps entered the MLS there has been a certain buzz around the sport never before experienced in Vancouver. The support, enthusiasm and comradery that Vancouver has towards our hometown team is finally nearing where it always should have been. Plus, being on the winning end seems to help the whole situation. Regardless, an evening spent under the retractable roof of BC Place is a great way to enjoy a Saturday evening. After 90min of play and a draw of null, never has so little been so much; a great game!

All I hope is that I will be back soon!




A Year of Photos in Review


Here is a few highlights from the past year in my adventures, trips and experiences. 2011 was a great year and Here is to hoping that 2012 will be even better!

Happy New Year!!!




The beauty of a Tulip






Black Mountain Panorama














A new home, let’s get settled.


Well, it has been a while with the nearly incomprehensible url of The original idea was to do a photo-per-day blog. Over time that warped, skewed and evolved into a story of adventure, recreation and people through images. This is the online journal of that in my life worth sharing. With that in mind the url: seemed fitting and appropriate.

If you would like to subscribe to the blog please do so. adding the url to any reader will get you sorted.

If you have any questions, comments, concerns or anything else that I may find interesting leave your comments below.

Thank you for reading


in the nature of the blog, here is a photo for your enjoyment…


Vancouver Canucks Game 7 Loss and Riot – Shame on you!


The Stanley Cup final is something that does not come to Vancouver all that often. It is a time to celebrate, a time to rejoice, a time to spend with friends. And then there is the other side. You would think that Vancouver Canucks’ fans would be used to losing by now, but now. The Stanley Cup game 7 loss to Boston is nothing more than an excuse to break shit.

Shame on you Vancouver!

I am a Canucks Fan. I am a Vancouver fan. I am a Canada Fan. I am a Hockey Fan.

If this happened during the Olympics a mere 14 months ago I would consider saying that I was ashamed to be associated with Canadians. This is the result of a loss. This is a shameful act of defiance and utter disregard for everything that is Canadian.

















2010 in Review – One year down and many to go!


Well, I started this blog off as a means of self advancement, improvement and as simply something to do. With the grand idea of making a daily post for an entire year My sights were sky high. And… Then…. I fell flat on my face. I made it around half way through the year before I was too busy, to far away or simply not motivated enough to continue. Well, rather than totally giving up, the blog had a re-birth. Now a photographic summary of adventures that I have taken the blog has a evolved into something that you may find complete dribble. I hope not though…

Over the past year, I have been to Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and the Yukon. I even made it all the way to Australia at one point. It has been a great year for myself, my photography and my guilty pleasure – Mountain Biking. If you have followed the blog, what was your favorite post of the year? What was your favorite photo? Here are a few highlights of my year in review in no particular order. I hope you can gain just a fraction of the enjoyment that I got out of the experiences, people and places in these photos.


Here is to a great 2011!





















A December Break in Sunny-Sunny California


Through work, I recently took a road trip down into Southern California. The trip was a total of 12 days, 5500km and some excellent mountain biking. Not to mention the sunny, warm weather that was a healthy distraction from the monotony of a Vancouver winter. Don’t get me wrong, I love Vancouver but it sure is nice to break up the winter rains with a few rays. Here are a few photos from the trip.

Sun Bleached Beaches in San Clemente

This Pelican has the right idea! (San Clemente)


Riding a rock line in the Cleveland National Forest


Climbing the ridge in Santa Barbara



The Wind Farms heading into Tehachapi

The view over Santa Barbara from the neighboring hills


Hiking to a view with no view


Today I hiked up to the top of Mt Hollyburn. This is a mountain in the Nordic area of the Cypress Ski area in West Vancouver BC. Snowshoeing up the ridge there was about 15cm of powder on about 100cm base so the conditions were pretty good. Plus it was snowing pretty hard the whole way up. A great day for a hike, but at the top there was no view whatsoever… In fact the visibility was very poor with the snow coming down. Nevertheless, I snapped a few photos before heading back down. I will do this hike again in the coming months to try and get some photos from the top. In the meantime, here are a few shots from today.

On the drive back down into the city the sky opened a bit and gave a nice view over Vancouver’s West End and the Harbour.
Go to Top