Summer in Muskoka Part 1 (May-June)

18 Oct

I feel lucky that I was able to call Muskoka and more specifically Huntsville home over this past summer. The area of Muskoka is privileged with its beautiful lakes, rivers, rolling hills, biking trails, nice people, craft breweries and even skateparks! It’s a paradise for anyone who has the constant itch for adventure. It’s clear to see where Kayley’s love for the outdoors and general attitude about everything spawned from. Growing up here can provide a sense of mental and physical freedom that a lot of kids and even adults don’t get the chance to ever experience. I’ve spent a lot of time here over the last couple years, but living here this summer has given me more time than ever to wander the area and enjoy all the goods it has to offer. My job at Algonquin Outfitters has given me the ability to meet and befriend locals who share that sense of adventure, these rad folks have welcomed me on their explorations and partake in their fun having ways. If it ain’t fun, then what’s the point!

It’s hard for me the sit down and write everything I did this summer in fine detail, it was my intention to write something after every escapade, but clearly that didn’t lay out as planned. Hopefully all the photos I took can help display and properly document all the fun that can be had within a 100km radius. Whether it’s paddling down the river, sleeping on a island, fishing for trout or surfing behind a boat, the options are untold. Whoever tells you Ontario is boring is lying, or just has bad taste. Enjoy what is at your disposal.


A fine spring day on the Muskoka River. (Balsam Chute)


A man (Nate) and his adventure companion (Moose).


Nate Muskoka on his home turf.


High Falls (Bracebridge, ON) proving how powerful water can be.


Nate knows what it takes to get the good shot.


Van repairs.


Cloudy paddle on Fairy Lake.


Kayley among the evergreens.


A rare glassy afternoon paddle.


Ain’t she a sight 😉


Forever chillen….


Vernon Narrows.


Early afternoon Paddle on Fairy Lake.


‘Locals Only’ hang out location.



 

Somewhere on the South Muskoka River.


Rapid watchers.


Rad afternoon on the water = Cheesing.


River-side sleep accommodations.


Gems found along the riverbed.


Moose is the boss.


A photogenic portage highway.


Little breather post portage.


Moose enjoying the journey.


No idea on what’s around the corner.



Someday that tree will be a part of the river.


Local fishing hole.


Adventure Mobile.


Another day, another paddle out.


A good day to kick back and relax. (Locals Island)


A cast iron meal is the best way to go.


Paddling into the sunset (Fairy Lake).



 

Lucas and Taylor gettin’ out there and getting the late day goods.


Lucas transporting a piece of the fun.


The AO camp out.


Home is where you pitch it.


Morning Goodness.


Hanging out at home.


Peter wanted me to take him on an adventure.


AO paddle night. Everyone was stoked.


Handling the Party Barge 6 Man SUP by Kahuna.


If Bob’s leading the charge, then we know were fucked.


Sunset nirvana (Vernon Narrows)


Mid-day dip. (Camp Kitchen)


Vandwelling somewhere in Muskoka.


Oxtounge Rapids.


Photo of a photo being taken.




Sunset on Lake of Bays.


Golden skies fading in Huntsville.


Going for a roll.


Muskoka speckle.


Big Doe Lake, ON.


National Geographic c. 1953


National Geographic c. 1953


Beautiful little fighter.


Paddling out to find somewhere to relax for the afternoon.


This looks like a good spot. (Lake Vernon)





Another insane Muskoka sunset (Lake Vernon).


Matty’s version of a bonfire.


Summer hangouts with James and Sam. (Kawagama Lake)


I’ll let this picture speak for itself. (Kawagama Lake)


Getting prepped for a day on the water.


Backcountry roads that lead to goodtimes. (Somewhere north of Huntsville)


Packing up the boats for the long day ahead. (Upper Big East River)


And we’re off.


Clear sign that we are about to portage.


This was right before we got separated for over an hour.


Nate’s unenthused face after getting separated.


Finding some energy to continue after bushwacking for 60+ minutes.



Stoke is high.


Water-ally.


Classic Big East scenery.


 

Closing out the winter season.

30 Aug

This post is long overdue, almost 4 months overdue….Once we got back to Ontario, time seemed to have sped up. And once work started, my mind totally became occupied on other matters. With fall approaching shortly, last winter still feels so fresh in my mind. I’m continually reminiscing on all the good times and deep lines that were enjoyed to the maximum extent.

It was early April, we had just arrived in Vancouver, getting back from an insane March, I mean, the word insane doesn’t justify everything we saw, did, enjoyed, ripped, etc… Our bodies felting the wear and tear of March, it was nice to be back in Canada, time to relax the bones, wander around beautiful BC and meet up with friends.

The rainy Vancouver atmosphere promoted rest, the first couple days back in the city mostly consisted of cafe hangouts and well-overdue errands. Once we started to feel more like ourselves, we headed up the Sea-Sky Highway to Squamish to meet with some childhood friends Tony and Matt.

The weather was damp, and the sun rarely showed it presence, but this is the west coast, it’s usual. Matt took us for a little hike, in search of waterfalls to witness the first signs of the spring thaw. The following day, we met up with Tony, he led us around the Smoke Bluffs, which is a climber’s paradise, you could tell by Tony’s enthusiasm about the place. The Bluffs provided an ideal place to see the infamous ‘The Chief’ cliff and the town of Squamish. The remainder of the days were enjoyed with either a coffee or beer in hand. I really appreciate the hospitality guys, super happy to see you two living the way you want and getting out there to enjoy it!

Back in Vancouver, the weather wet, we still opted for outside. Stanley Park on a foggy, rainy afternoon might be better than when it’s clear and sunny. This park couldn’t give off more of a west coast vibe if it tried. Knowing it was going to be our last time in Van City this winter, Granville Island Market was a must before leaving along with wandering around the beach. Before trekking back to the interior, we said our good-byes to that magical city, thanking it for giving us a comfortable place to hang and recoup between long drives.

Back in Van City.

I approve of this rad rig.

Squamish, BC.

Kay hiding in the greenery.

Thanks for the sweet forest tour Matt!


Solid view of The Chief.

Hiking with Tony on a typical rainy day in Squam.

Back in a rainy Stanley Park.

Granville Island Market, Vancouver.

Cruising around the market.

Believable.

Jericho Beach.

Sea Treasures.

Saying goodbye to the ocean.

Bye Van! It’s been real.

Our next destination was Fernie. But, before we made the drive, a quick stop in Kelowna to see Mitch and Landa was necessary. A skate sesh, beers and hang outs being musts.

Kelowna on a spring afternoon.

Landa loves the B!

Winter’s classic NG collection.


The drive to Fernie was beautiful, passing through Nelson, Creston and Castlegar on the way. It featured everything from Big Horned Sheep, large mountain passes and prairie fields.

Arriving in Fernie displayed many emotions, the town of Fernie is beautiful, a wall of giant mountains to the North and East, the Kootenay and Rocky Mountain ranges slam together here creating one of the most picturesque snow covered rock formations.

After picking up Arija….Quick back-story, Arija is one of my best friends, we’ve known each other a long time, my sister from another mother if you will. We had been looking forward to spending time with her all winter, stoked to finally see her! Anyways, after picking her up from the mountain (she is a snowboard instructor for Fernie Ski Resort), it was game on. Much of the week involved either resting or full on activities. We invaded her beautiful basement apartment (which had an unreal view of the mountains), and had two solid days of spring slush riding. One of the days being the infamous Hot Dog day, a day dedicated to a weird 80’s ski movie. Everyone dresses up with retro gear, shares a couple beverages, rips around the mountain and just gets loose. It was a rad time, classic mountain culture stuff. Even though we didn’t get to experience a pow day, Fernie was super fun. The mountain features 7 different bowls, the runs are steep, and versatile. This place would be heaven on a deep day. The park was awesome, mellow and good features, the slush conditions allowed everyone to step it up a bit, high stoke for sure. The rest of week involved watching a local band, Shred Kelly kill it at the town bar, lots of coffee (Fernie has a tons of local coffee shops, Mugshots Cafe being our favourite), hanging with friends, vegging out and straight up couch time. Couldn’t of asked for anything else. Thanks again Arija for being the best, showing us an insane time, introducing us to awesome people, giving us your bed and letting us use your shower everyday, we really needed it. Much love dude.

Couple goats, Fernie bound.

Mountain corridor traffic jams. Somewhere between Nelson/Fernie.

We found the elusive Arija <3

First day in Fernie was Bluebird!

Parking lot views.

Ideal spring weather.

Fernie providing the views


Hot Dog Day in Fernie.

Smiles for days.

Stoked, (slightly intoxicated) crew!

Messy…

A tired crew!

Coffee run.

Fernie mountain tops.

Arija’s hood.

Fernie’s Skatepark

Last night in Fernie 🙁


Following the Fernie adventures, we decided to head back to Kelowna to catch warmer weather and get some more hang time in with Mitch, Landa, and Ian before heading back to Ontario.

On the way back, Nelson was an obvious stop. We took a day to head up to the Ainsworth Hot Springs, about 30mins north of Nelson. The springs feature both a warm mineral pool and a cave, where you can wander in a loop through the cave that is carved out of the mountain side. Felt good, the muscles thanked us.

Somewhere between Fernie and Creston.

Made it to Ainsworth Hot Springs!

Into the steaming cave!

Relaxing the muscles.

Back in Nelson for a quick layover.



Arriving back in Kelowna, we did the usual; hiked, errand runs and hanging out. Although, we were treated to an incoming storm. My phone sent me an alarm stating Big White was about to get a dumping, 30cms to be exact. Mitch, Kayley and myself dropped everything and made our way early the following morning. The parking lot was empty, allowing us to enjoy this day all to ourselves. It was hard to top many of the days we had this winter but this day was for sure up there. Mitch knows the mountain well, so he knew the good and deep spots. It was a day to get sendy. Both Kay and I were stoked to share this day with Mitch, super fun dude to ride with and just be around! Knowing this was our last pow day of the season was sad, but the fact it was on April 13th and pow day #30 made us feel a little better about it.

Osoyoos! Canada’s only true desert!

Skaha Bluffs in Pentiction.

Skaha Bluffs.

Didn’t find the rest of it…

Badass Van in Kelowna.

I’m pretty sure this isn’t supposed to happen….

Spring pow day. (Big White, BC)

Yeeessshh!

Pre-run planning.

A Happy Mitch.

Never a bad day at Big White.


We meet up with Kayley’s friend, Ian, later in the week. Him and his partner, Steph are avid climbers. They made the move to Kelowna, mainly due to it’s proximity to the Skaha Bluff’s in Penticton, a climbing haven. They were nice enough to allow us to tag along on one of their early season climbing adventures. Kayley was psyched, she loves climbing. My knee feeling blown out, I opted to spend the day watching and resting. All three of them killed it, mastering every climb they faced. It was super cool to witness.

Kayley getting elevated. (Skaha Bluffs, BC)

Killed it.

A climber’s paradise.

Ian doing his thing.

Kayley showing off.


After saying our good-byes to everyone, it was time to start making our way out east. Thanks to Mitch for everything you did for us this winter, sure made life a lot easier. Landa, thanks for the laughs! Ian and Steph, thanks for a rad day at the Bluffs and the hospitality. See you next winter!

The drive from Kelowna to Banff was just as beautiful as ever. Easily one of the best drives in Canada, even all of North America. The rise of spring was evident, the snow diminishing and green beginning to become prevalent again.

Banff is always special, it’s an easy place to be. It’s one of the most sought out places to visit in the world. Being back here felt fitting. It was the first place we stopped at for a couple days when we first arrived in the mountains back in the fall, and we strapped in for the first time this season at Sunshine Village on Kayley’s birthday. Now, it was going to be the last place to hang on the way out of the mountains, and closing the season out with our final day shredding at Sunshine Village on my birthday. Kind of funny how it went full circle. Our last day at Sunshine was eventful, I wouldn’t call it a pow day but there were freshies to be had, maybe 10cms. Also, the Holy Bowly event was going on. Pros are invited to rip this skate style inspired park. The event has no winners or losers, it’s all about fun. It was rad to sit and watch my favourite riders demolish the course. I even shared a couple runs down with them! Best way to spend my birthday! Thanks babe for making it great 🙂

The rest of our time in Banff was spent wandering around, checking out the surrounding beauty, made a trip up to Lake Louise to see the glacier and squeeze in a quick visit with Arija after her CASI test.

Yoho National Park, BC.

Boarder of Alberta/BC.

Parkway in Banff National Park, AB

Rundle Mountain.

Downtown Banff views of Cascade Mountain.

I promise you she’s stoked.

Back in paradise. (Sunshine Village, AB)

Up there…

Shredding with a view.

Watching legends rip at Holy Bowly.

The Holy Bowly setup was insane.

One of the best events of the year.

Magpie & Stump in Banff is 10/10.

Our view each morning.

Hmmmm…

Lake Louise, AB. Tourist central.

Spray River, Banff.

Bow Falls.

More tourists at Bow Falls.

Dipping her fingers in the ice cold water.

On the way out of the mountains.

See ya next winter you big rocky structures.

Skate break in Calgary.


No doubt it was sad to see the mountains go, but it was exciting knowing we were headed back to Ontario. We made a pit stop to see Cisco in Drumheller, AB. Just like we did on the way out in November. Cisco being who he is, he let us hang with him for the weekend, toured us around the Badlands, fed us way too much food and watched way too much television. It was worth it. Cisco, it’s always awesome to see ya and thanks for opening up your house to let us recuperate.

Another skate break in Drumheller, AB. Super fun park for a small town.

The infamous Drumheller T-Rex.

Prairie cruising with Cisco.

Horsethief Canyon Badlands.

Prairie Ninja.

The princess on her throne.

Dinosaur County.

Thanks Cisco for letting us invade your home for a couple days!

When you thought winter was over….

Spring snow in the Badlands.

April 25th, snow in central Alberta.


Our drive back across the country was both eventful and non-eventful. With most Provincial and National Parks still closed, and the lack of interested in stopping in the cities, we pulled long days in the van, just trying to get back to Ontario. The excitement of wanting to see everyone was evident. We thought spring was ready to peak it’s head out but once we arrived in Ontario, that clearly wasn’t the case. We awoke to a snowstorm in Kenora, making the drive to Marathon less than enjoyable, luckily we just missed the insane ice-storm that came through Thunder Bay. Most of our drive through Ontario in late-April felt more like late January. Although, once we pulled closer to North Bay, the weather started to take a turn for the better. Once in Ottawa, all we wanted to do was see everyone we missed over the winter, and thankfully everyone made time to hang out which was rad!! Between the hang outs, catching up, adventuring, and enjoying some drinks, the days we spent back in the capital flew by as expected. Thanks to all our awesome friends for making the time to see us, letting us use your showers and making us feel at home!

And it’s gone.

Found more snow in Kenora, ON. (April 27th)

Cruising through a wintery Northern Ontario. (April 28th)

I think winter disappeared a little too quick for this fella. (Blind River, ON)

Back in Ottawa, hanging with the fam (Matt, Kay, Vick, Nick) in Gatineau Park. It’s official, we are back.


Without getting all sentimental and emotional, the 7 months we spent on the road, doing what we wanted, when we wanted was all we could of asked for. The freedom to explore this amazing country along with experiencing the insane beauty of the United States; whether it was chasing snowstorms, hanging out by the ocean, sleeping in the desert or adventuring with friends, it was everything Kayley and I hoped it would be. Kayley was a trooper, from being trapped with me in a 18 x 7ft box on freezing nights to driving up and down sketchy mountain passes in blizzards, she is the ultimate adventure companion, I’m super thankful to have her and to have shared all of this with her by my side. Thanks again to everyone who helped us out along the way and opened up their homes to give us a shower and warm place to hang out! Much love,

Chris