My moment of gnarliness.

Spring is the morning coffee, Autumn is the evening tea. Summer, though, is the ten-hour shift in between. Cities are awash with messages of production and consumption, and people work themselves to exhaustion in the name of vacation. Plants, animals, and men cram an entire year of planning into a few short months of activity, and during all of this, the sun only grows hotter.

I won't go so far as to say I hate summer, but I'll gladly say that it's far too over-rated for my liking.

Still... it's not without its merits.

Yesterday morning, I left with two of my friends to go on a mountain biking excursion. I'd never been mountain biking before. In fact, I hadn't ridden a bike of any sort since kay-five. Granted, we weren't going to the mountains, but Elkwater Provincial Park was close enough.

We stopped by the visitor's centre, read through the weather reports, picked up a trail map, and asked the staff for their suggestions. We filled up our water bottles, and left the parking lot, ready for adventure. Our trail began at the end of the road, so we happily charged down the ashphalt, ready to leave it behind us. But first, we'd have to leave it below us -- the visitor centre was by the lakeside, which meant that any way into the hills would start with a steep incline. Even though the road was smooth, and we weren't yet tired, we were huffing and panting as we finally met the crest of the hill.

At this point we found ourselves in a church parking lot. Apparently, my orienteering skills left a bit to be desired. Dejected, we turned around, flew back downhill, and found the correct point to stage our ascent.

Ascent was indeed the correct word, though, for we ended up pushing our bikes for nearly the entire trip uphill. Still, we managed to take some time and sit down in the shade, near a gorge where a cool breeze came up from a depth of trees. The smell of the forest was all around, full of pine and cedar. We fished a few granola bars out of our backpacks, drank some water, and discussed evolutionary theory. Really, the day could have ended right there, and it would have been worthwhile. We kept on, though, finally rewarding ourselves with a magnificent view from the top of Horseshoe Canyon. I've seen grander canyons, sure, but this one had a certain... accessibility to it. You could look straight to its floor, and perfectly visualise every slide and tumble you'd take on the way down... Then, a small voice in the back of your head suggests that it might be fun, and you step back quickly before you get any bright ideas.

After that, we ripped around on the plateau for an hour or so, wildly jumping over fallen branches, wheels crunching down on the bed of pine needles that covered the trails. We took another break at the Forestry Museum, which had neither guides, nor glass cases... nor walls, for that matter. I guess they just assumed no one was going to steal an entire sawmill and take it down a canyon in the middle of the night.

Another powerade transfusion, and we were ready for the descent.


I could have sworn snowboarding season ended when the snow melted, yet there I was, screaming down a precipitous slope, bones rattling. My cheeks were pressed back against my ears, although due to wind resistance or terror, I'd be hard pressed to say which. Every minor dip which we'd wearily plodded over on the way up became a small launching pad -- and I could have sworn that there hadn't been that many cobblestones on the trail previously. Nonetheless, I rocketed over them all, my "woo-hoo's" echoing through the valley.

I finally levelled out, and I was coasting leisurely along the road back to the truck.

That's when the chain flew off my bike, lodging in the back gear, locking my rear wheel so quickly that a spoke came loose and drove through the innertube, puncturing it.

Perhaps not the greatest end to an adventurous day, but certainly a fitting one. I can't wait to go back.


Jayson Merryfield said...

Gnarly, dude.


Alan Dedman said...

I have never thought of biking down there.... hiked from one end of Cypress to the other... but never biked...

About The Author

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.