I’ve gathered together a collection of quotes that will inspire and stir your spirit towards getting outdoors this summer and explore the larger, wilder, more real world of nature. *Caution: May embolden you to step outside and do awesome stuff.
It’s a bit of an early spring out there. Early in the morning it can still be pretty cold, but always by lunch the sun will be shining, people will be happy, you might even say there’s a little bit of joy in the air. I can’t think of a better time to open the door, set your feet on solid ground and put your mind at ease.
Of course I love my winters, but perhaps I love the changing of seasons more. When the world melts away and the sun is revealed or when the failing of the light leads to chilly days and warm hearts. I don’t love spring for it’s own sake and yet I can’t help enjoying this time of year. It is easier than ever to get outside when the sun warms the air. In a bad funk? Take a walk, clear your head, lower your blood pressure and let the wind carry away some of those stressful feelings.
Breathe the air, smell the promise. The promise of warmer futures, brighter days and fair skies. I believe in the power of nature, it was purposely made for you and I. The lure of adventure, humans were made to explore, to go beyond, see above, live higher. But we have stuffed it down, comfort is important now, contentment and convenience are more desirable than truly living.
But that is the true promise of spring, the secret for those who would seek it out. We can live, breathe, see, do and be. We can do more, rise higher, see farther and even humble ourselves before the altar of God known to us as nature.
We can Explore Beyond.
At the beginning of this winter I found myself in need of a new pair of waterproof winter gloves, but I didn’t really want to spend $100+ on a new set. Then I discovered Black Diamond’s Dirt Bag series of gloves and mitts. Designed for lift attendants, ski patrollers and others who ski daily, but don’t have a lot of cash to blow on a new pair of expensive gloves multiple times a season, these are tough, robust gloves that cost only $50 (if you’re in the USA, it’s fifty USD and if you’re in Canada, it’s fifty CAD!).
Made from goatskin leather topped off with a DWR treatment this is a glove that will take anything the elements can throw at it. With the leather exterior and a 200g fleece lining, Black Diamond recommends that it’s best for temperatures around -7 to -10C (20-14F), but in my experience they’ve kept my hands perfectly warm until temperatures dip below -35C. The stretch-knit cuff, a similar material to what’s used on their Momentum climbing shoe, makes for an easy on-off, while also keeping a tight seal against the weather.
These gloves are tough, they faced almost daily use during a cold snap we had in December where temperatures were below -30 almost everyday for 2-3 weeks and they held up resiliently. They started off being pretty stiff, of course, when I first got them and over time they’ve softened up and are now quite comfortable. The fleece used for the inner lining is soft and I’ve had no issues with how they fit as well. They are almost true to size, with just a little bit of room at the tips of the fingers for myself. That being said, a good fitting glove is a warm glove, as a glove or mitt with too much dead-space will allow more cold air to accumulate inside.
All in all, I give these gloves high marks for durability, comfort and warmth. They are an amazing value at $50 (USD or CAD), and I don’t see myself using a different glove for a few years to come.
I am undeniably a fan of winter. It’s biggest fan, you might say. The cold, the snow, even the unpredictability and unreliability of the weather. And I know that this doesn’t make sense, being that most of my favourite hobbies are summer related. Hiking, mountain biking, outdoor rock climbing, these are all warm weather activities (for the most part). But something about winter gets me excited. Maybe I’m just one of those people who are cheered up by bad weather (I do enjoy a good storm). Or is it something different?
So many people hate the first snowfall of the season and I don’t really understand this. I know that it’s not the snow they hate but what it means, the coming cold. Here in Alberta it can get pretty cold, even by my standards. Despite that, the cold brings so many things that people love, things that would have lesser meaning without it. Hot chocolate, warm fireplaces and time at home with the family, more snow, and the promise of Christmas.
This is why I don’t understand it, because regardless of the pains that winter brings, it also brings us our favourite times and memories. The good out weighs the bad. If we would just look at the big picture we could see all the joys of winter. But no, people choose to see only the cold. The terrifying, horrendous, -40 degree cold. Just layer up, you’ll be fine.
Fall. The Autumn season. It might seem like possibly the worst time of year for adventuring, but with a little ingenuity and a little luck with the weather, there are still some excellent adventures to be had. While mountain biking, skiing and the other big one season sports are mostly out of the picture, there is definitely some fun out there.
I recently upgraded to a ‘new to me’ Banshee Spitfire V2 mountain bike, and I must say that this is one of the best bikes I've ever ridden. Banshee is a Canadian company focused on making bikes that ride well above all else. They claim to make real bikes for real riders.
So I thought I would give you a look at this amazing bike.
27.5” wheels, 10 speed drivetrain, Aluminum frame and a whole lot of fun.
2.6” wide Schwalbe Magic Mary in the front and 2.4” wide Continental Trail King in the rear, a great tire combo.
Magura MT Trail Sport brakes, a beautiful piece of German engineering.
Front fork: Fox 34 Float 27.5 160mm of travel.
Rear shock: Cane Creek DB Air Inline 140mm of travel.
E*thirteen Vario Infinite dropper seat post and Chromag Trailmaster DT saddle.
Kona Wah-Wah 2 pedals, my new favorites. They are massive and stick to your shoes like nothing else.
And there it is, my new mountain bike and all of my favorite parts. I hope to get it out more soon and have some epic rides.
Alberta is a beautiful place, it’s roughly the size of France, with an incredibly diverse landscape. From the vast Boreal forest to the Badlands, the mountains and the wide open prairies, there is much to see and do. I’ll be focusing on what I consider the best places in the province to hike and where you’ll best experience the wonder of nature.
Banff National Park is known worldwide for it’s staggering beauty and majesty. But I wanted to narrow in on the area surrounding the town of Banff. Home to Mount Rundle, Lake Minnewaka, Sulphur Mountain and more, there is so much that you could spend weeks hiking here.
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is named after Alberta’s tenth Premier and is home to some of the best views and hikes in Kananaskis Country. The first all Canadian Everest expedition trained here and a few of the region’s highest peaks are located in this park.
Waterton Lakes National Park
Making up the Canadian portion of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, Waterton is absolutely stunning. There numerous lakes here, along with amazing hikes and scrambling. You can even cross the Canada-USA border into Glacier National Park (though not right now).
Taking a break from the mountains and heading over to the eastern side of the province, we have Drumheller and the Canadian Badlands. Here you can find the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology and the adjacent Dinosaur Provincial Park, which is one of the richest dinosaur fossil sites in the world. The Badlands form part of the Red Deer River Valley, and you’ll be blown away by the sudden disappearance of the prairies as you dip down into the desert-like landscape.
Few places bear the immense measure of majesty found around the town of Lake Louise in Banff National Park. Million dollar views await you in every direction. Around Lake Louise you’ll find world famous Moraine Lake, Kicking Horse Pass, and Peyto Lake. Hiking here is nearly limitless, with excellent opportunities for scrambling and mounteering as well.
Jasper National Park
The Icefields Parkway that connects Banff to Jasper has been named the most scenic drive in the world. Located alongside it are the Columbia Icefields, the largest glaciers south of the Arctic Circle. Jasper is also home to the beautiful Maligne Lake, as well as Mount Columbia, the highest mountain in Alberta at 3,747m (12,293ft).
A part of Kananaskis, but also winding it’s way directly into Banff National Park, you have the various communities and provincial parks that make up the Bow Valley. Canmore is by far the largest and most prominent town in the region, with amazing hiking literally just on the edge of town. Grotto Canyon is probably the best known hike, but you can’t forget Ha ling Peak and the East End of Rundle, which, frustratingly enough, is actually the south end of the mountain. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, nearby Rat’s Nest Cave provides an excellent introduction to spelunking/caving.
There are a few things I like to bring with me whenever I go for a hike or a trip to the mountains. These aren’t fancy or super expensive items, but they do allow me to adventure confidently knowing that I’ve got everything I need.
This is a must for myself. I carry one everyday and there are always a million uses for it.
Emergency Medical Kit
An absolute necessity, if you don’t have one when you need it things can go from bad to worse. Plus they’re pretty inexpensive, so why not?
Weather can change in an instant. I’ve seen snow and sun on the same day, but if you packed for it, it’s not a problem.
From cold toes at -40 to wet feet because of a Fall rain, you’ll be glad you packed some.
Food and Hydration
The longer the hike, the more you need. This can be as simple as a sandwich and a water bottle to multiple meals and a hydration bladder. Do you want to save weight or are you not sure how much clean water you’ll find? Water filters are light, small, and good for many uses.
You may think you always know which way is north, but trust me, you’ll still be wrong sometimes.
A Map… of Some Sort
This can take the form of a physical map, a guide book, or an offline app.
Anything that you think you’ll need, anything that will come in handy or just something to brighten your day.
There are many amazing places in this world and almost as many places to mountain bike, but for me there are a handful of locales that stand out above the rest. This is not a comprehensive list of the best mountain bike spots in the world, just simply places I’ve always wanted to ride. So let’s get started.
Retallack Lodge, British Columbia
Retallack Lodge started as a backcountry, heli- and cat-skiing lodge in the Kootenays of B.C., but now acts as a mountain bike destination in the summer. They offer shuttle and heli trips, and the trails are absolutely incredible. From machine built flow trails to high alpine descents, they offer it all in a remote backcountry setting in the legendary Selkirk mountains.
Crested Butte, Colorado
Crested Butte is well known in the mountain biking community as an awesome place to ride. The town is almost completely surrounded by trails upon trails. If you’re like me and you like big mountains and long rides, Crested Butte is the place to go. The altitude here is pretty crazy, so be warned that your legs and lungs might hurt.
This isn’t exactly a specific location, but the riding anywhere in the Highlands looks pretty rad. Plus I just think that the Highlands is a raw, ancient and rugged landscape that is incredibly beautiful and stirring.
You could spend a lifetime riding in Switzerland and not see everything, so I needed to narrow it down. Graubünden has every style of riding that you could want, from brutal climbs to lift accessed downhills. No other alpine region in Europe has as many trails as Graubünden. And it’s Switzerland, which means stunning views in every direction.
Also check out this video:
Whistler and Squamish, British Columbia
Squamish riding is gnarly as heck and Whistler is THE world mecca of mountain biking. You will be hard pressed to find better trails anywhere else in the world. That being said, there is plenty of amazing riding out there, especially in places that I have not included on this list.
Whistler Bike Park:
You’ve seen the videos, heard friends talk about it, and you’re thinking: “Maybe I should try mountain biking?” But there’s that little voice of doubt that says “Really? You really want to ride a bicycle up a down a mountain? Can you even do that?” Well, I’m here to tell you that you can, you are capable and I’ve written a list of 5 reasons why you should try it this year.
#1. It’s Ridiculously Fun
If nothing else mountain biking is insanely fun. Even if you never hit giant jumps or rip your way through roots and rocks, the simple joy of riding a bicycle on a dirt trail is sublime. Of course as you become better and ride harder trails, the more awesome it becomes.
#2. You’ll Become The Best Version of Yourself
Do you see this guy at the top of a mountain? Yeah, you can bet that he pedaled up there himself. You’ll want to ride as often as you can and go farther, so you’ll set goals and train hard. Heck, you’ll even become fit just by riding to have fun.
#3. You’ll Meet Rad People
Mountain Bikers are cool people. Period. There’s some out there who are lame and kind of rude, but generally mountain bikers are awesome people just trying to have fun. And now you have some friends to going riding with!
#4. Mountain Bikers Travel to Breathtaking Places
Did you know Whistler has a bike park? Colorado and Utah are amazing places to ride and there’s some awesome trails in the Canadian Rockies. But what about outside North America? Scotland, Switzerland, Peru and New Zealand are just some of the few places that pretty much every mountain biker dreams about. You’ll go places most people have never heard of and see things 99% of the population will only see in your pictures. How rad is that?
#5. You Will Have a Pretty Awesome Life
Take all of the reasons I just talked about and mash them together. That is what’s waiting for you on a mountain bike. In one word it is Freedom. Pure, simple, bright and living Freedom. Freedom to explore, to dream, to live.