Tag Archives: mountain biking

Florida Mountain Biking???

G0452563When we hit the mountain bike trails in new destinations we find ourselves always comparing them to the trails at home in Whitehorse, where our trails have been recognized with “top” Canadian and North American status by a number of organizations. What the Santos trail system (Ocala, Florida) lacks in elevation it makes up for in wood features, which we really enjoy. After our great visit here 2 years ago, it was a “must do” for this years trip to Florida!

We were excited to play in the new skills park that has been built right at the trailhead – lots of small jumps/table tops and various sized skinnies. Hunter, as usual, was the master of the skinnies and was able to complete even the most difficult by day three.

Most of the trails are a mix of dirt and sand with some roots and chunks of coral. Those that are deemed most difficult are due to the technical nature vs significant up or down hill sections. Thanks to some good trail design they even have really nice flowy sections that you can bank your turns on even though they are perfectly flat in terms of terrain.

The more difficult wooden features are in the “vortex” area of the Santos Trails. You can experience various sized wooden drops that culminate in the roller coaster and the new wooden corkscrew feature that requires you to really manage your speed, breaking and descent angle all at the same time.

G0542703One of the best parts of the Santos trail system is the fact that there is a state campground right next door. Nice clean sites with power and water and a simple bath house with large showers. It is almost always fully booked on the weekends (you can make reservations) but only moderately used during the week. This is a great stop for anyone travelling through and needing a day of biking or as a destination as part of a Florida trip.

A week in Moab – can’t help but have fun!

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Moab is my second “happy place” (behind Tofino) in North America. I just can’t get enough of the laid back lifestyle and amazing rocks. It doesn’t hurt that when we come in the late fall it is still summer like weather and it’s almost guaranteed that I can wear shorts and swim outside!

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We had planned on spending the week boondocking outside of Arches National Park but decided that with temps in the 80’s it would be wiser to spend the money on a campsite that came with shade and a pool. We ended up at Canyonlands RV, where we have stayed before, and had another great stay. It is right at the south end of main street and within walking distance of groceries, restaurants, parks etc.. The only downside is that it is right next to the high school – while this comes with the benefit of Friday night football in the fall, it comes with the negative of 7am marching band practice Monday – Wednesday.

pool handstandsChoosing the pool was definitely a good decision as we were in it at least once a day and many times twice. The boys spent time working on their headstands, underwater summersaults and playing battle with pool noodles.

In addition to spending two days mountain biking at the Bar M trails we also ventured off to the Moab Skate Park for some fun.

We spent our last day on a Fiery Furnaces hike with Jay from Tag-a-long tours. Tim and I did this on a ranger lead tour back when Hunter was 3 (and we carried him in a back pack) and loved it. While it was more expensive going on a commercial trip ($85 vs $16) the group size and experience made it well worth it. The Ranger led hikes have 25 people in them and are all about managing liability. They can also be booked online up to 6 months in advance so are very hard to get when you just show up in town. We were 5 plus the guide and Jay did a fabulous job customizing the experience for us while still managing risk. It made for a great mix of hiking, canyoneering and education. We would definitely recommend this hike and Jay at Tag-a-long!

Another great week in Moab left us looking forward to our next visit!

A week in Whistler – all about family & friends

DSCN0474We spent the last full week of September up in Whistler, hoping to catch some indian summer days while paddling, biking and hanging with friends. We got a few beautiful sunny afternoons to start and end the week, with 48 hours of torrential rain in the middle. We also ended up with surprise visits with friends from Whitehorse who happened to be down for 2 separate conferences in Whistler – that was a treat!

Our friends Steve and Kim live right on Green Lake at the beginning of the Green River. Thanks to recent rains the level came up a bit and we were able to go for a family run down it. We made the most of the paddle and turned what is normally a 45 minute run into a 2.5 hour run, taking time to play on anything we found. Hunter even taught me how to stern squirt (put the back of my boat down under water on purpose).

We gave Tim the next day off and he did some construction at Steve’s house and then they headed out to paddle the CalCheak, which was low but they still managed to find some fun on their way down.

We stayed at the Riverside Campground which is just north of town and had fun biking on the fabulous Valley Trail system, which has over 30 km of paved biking/walking trails. We discovered the skate park and bike parks in Whistler, which were definitely worth the visit!

The highlight of the week for Hunter was the full 48 hours that he got to spend with his cousin Robin who was up from Vancouver. They spend the first 24 hours living with us in the campground and managed to fit in a round of mini golf, a trip to the Village on scooters to play in the skate park and get ice cream, and lots of time spent running around in the woods. The second 24 hours was spent with Aunt Dawn & Uncle Colin at Intrawest where they played in the pool and the games room, explored the village some more and generally ran around.

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Any time we stop near a major centre it is expensive as you feel more like a tourist and money gets spent on dinners out and ice cream. We try hard to balance things and find ways to explore for free while being open to spending money on great experiences or time with friends and family. It’s a juggle for sure!

Exploring the trestles of the Kettle Valley Railroad

DSCN0398The Kettle Valley Rail Road was first built in 1915 throughout the Thompson-Okanagan region of BC to move mining resources but only lasted fully until 1961, when some pieces were starting to be shut down, and the final section shut down in 1989.  Once shut down people started using the abandoned railway sections for hiking and biking, with them eventually being turned into a provincial park and the trestle section was declared a National Historic site in 2002.

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Tim and I biked the trestles before a lot of the restoration work was done and both ATV’d and dogsledded the trail in 2001 and 2002 before the fires of 2003 that destroyed most of them. Biking the trestles with Hunter was top of our list of things to do in Kelowna as we figured he would love them.

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The main trestle section is 12 km in length, made up of 18 trestles and runs from the Myra Canyon trailhead to the Ruth trailhead, which are just east of Kelowna.

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We rode from Ruth to Myra Canyon and back which made it 24 km round trip.

The trestles themselves vary in length and height depending on the gap that they are covering – pretty amazing engineering from the early 1900’s.

There are also 2 tunnels in the trestle section, both of which were adapted and reinforced through the years.

DSCN0383There are some interesting historical remnants (this is an original stone oven for one of the railway camps) and plenty of educational sign posts to learn more about the railway, the local geography as well as flora & fauna.

DSCN0444Because this was a railway there is never more than a 2.2% grade in the trail which makes for an easy ride or hike for pretty much anyone. There are a number of scenic look outs and benches for resting along the way. It’s a must do for anyone travelling through Kelowna!

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Down time in the Shuswaps – or not…

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After what felt like a nonstop summer of either driving or kayaking, we opted to spend the first week after labour day in the Shuswaps – thinking lazy days at the beach with no one else around as the rest of the world had gone back to their daily lives… Unfortunately NOT QUITE.

We booked into the Blind Bay Resort, whose web site shows water front sites located right on Shuswap lake – private dock, pool, games room etc.. Everything we look for when booking some down time! Rolling into this small town after driving 6 hours was a definite let down – the RV sites are all 2 blocks back from the beach front (where they are in construction of new sites), lake levels are very low thanks to the low water summer so there is no swimming from their beach, the pool had been closed that day and the games room was only open from 9am – noon when the office was staffed. Welcome to the off season!

On top of that the stink bugs arrived on our second day – if you haven’t experienced stink bugs BE GRATEFUL. They were everywhere (camper covered, always trying to get inside, in my hair) but if you kill them they stink so you have to be careful to ensure you whack them outside away from main entrances.

We took a few days to wash boats, vacuum out the trailer, sort gear etc. and then were feeling restless and bored. Some quick google searching found some local bike trails so out came the bikes, which really hadn’t had much use since Burns Lake in mid June.

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Our first ride was just a few minutes up the road and fairly low key. Hunter was somewhat grumpy getting back into the whole “uphill” thing and this got us all off on the wrong emotional foot. 2km in and we were all ready to throw in the hat but we persevered because we all agreed that a 4km ride wasn’t long enough. We pushed on and all agreed to turn around at the super steep part before the peak. It came with a screaming downhill section that put smiles back on everyone’s faces and then settled into a lazy flat section. I was busy watching Hunter zoom by me and completely missed the large tree section sticking out from the side of the trail – not sure if I hit it or my bike hit it but yet again I launched over my handlebars and found myself whimpering in a pile on the ground… Upon reflection Tim chastised himself for taking the photo after he had removed my bike from on top of me! Always looking for learning opportunities, we got Hunter to use his first aid assessment skills, which was a challenge as he was so busy laughing at me. End results was a lot of bruising and strained intercostal muscles on the left side.

With our taste for biking whetted we headed a bit further down the road the next day and had a fun afternoon at the White Lake Bike Park – a small area in the middle of nowhere with some great wood features and trails. I opted for hiking the trails and acting as the family photographer to give my very sore body a bit of rest.

We made a stop at Pebble Beach after our ride and were rewarded with a very fun and refreshing swim. They have a roped off swim area and 2 rafts to play on. I’m sure it is packed in the summer time.

Overall, not the stop we had planned but we tried to make the best of it. I got in a few runs and walks and Hunter had a fair amount of freedom to roam, which is important to him these days. Tim used the down time to get our gear back in working order and ready for the next adventure.