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.


 

Getting to know BC a little better.

25 Feb

We decided to make our way back to BC with perfect timing, my dad was on his way to Vancouver for work related activities, giving us the opportunity to spend some well needed time with him. The days leading up to his arrival were mostly spent hanging around, having a night session at Mt. Seymour and relaxing after our go go go PNW adventure.

Seymour Afternoon views

Seymour Night Sesh!


We met him at the hotel in Surrey and after a long hug, we ventured out for dinner and shared stories of the last couple months, impossibility trying to remember everything that had happened. He did his best to make sure our bellies were full, jokingly thinking that we’re a bunch of starving travellers, which does hold some truth. The following morning, he was off to meetings, and we took in the ultimate comfort of the soft hotel bed, and warm shower. Later on, we drove across town to the Sheraton Wall Hotel located smack in the middle of downtown Vancouver. As we checked in, the hotel desk employee was wondering how two people like Kayley and I were staying in a nice hotel such as this, on one of the top floors, and when I informed them we were meeting by dad here, it seemed to make a bit more sense haha. The room sat as high as the rest of the large concrete towers in the city, providing surreal views of the encompassing mountain ranges, and even a nice glimpse of Mt Baker where we once were less than a month ago. To us this was a serious treat but to my dad who spends a large chunk of his life in hotel rooms, he was less taken back by it all. We abused the hotel facilities by taking a dip in the hot tub and sauna, watching cable tv and free coffee. That evening, we all strolled around the water front, discussing how nice of city Vancouver is, grabbed grub at a local pub and catched up on more stories. The visit went by fast like most visits do. But, it was refreshing to see a family member. Thanks again Dad for all the awesome hospitality, it was well needed!

Living Large!

Big Pops!


The forecast was showing a new storm on its way for lower BC, and our plan was to get to Nelson before it hit. The drive from Vancouver to Osoyoos was mellow, making our way through many corridors and snow filled mountain tops, eventually arriving in Canada’s only desert. We wanted to spend the next day exploring around but with the storm making landfall the next morning, we knew we had to keep making our way to Nelson before the roads became unbearable. The van and ourselves arrived in Nelson right as the snow started to pick up and luckily found a spot to park up that was close enough for us to walk into town (The spot wasn’t our first choice since our van failed to make it up a steep hill). Waiting for the snow to build up, the next couple days we explore around the town, it was a place I’ve been waiting on coming to for 25 years. My Nana, Papa spent 30 years in this wonderful place and had been telling me about it my whole life, it was easy to see why. Perfectly placed in the middle of four mountains, the town features a small but unique downtown with tons of coffee shops and local restaurants, no shortage of good meals. The people are chill, nice and welcoming.

Hello Nelson

Blanket Covered

Incoming Fresh!


We had a couple buddies visiting from Kelowna while we were there, after riding we met them at their AirBnB on the north side which featured unreal views of town, grabbed a hot tub soak and chatted about our recent adventuring. The snow at this point was building faster than ever and when we awoke Monday morning, our van was completely buried along with the entire town. Locals were saying this was the biggest storm they’ve had in years, which meant Whitewater was going to be pumping!! As we attempted to dig our van out and hopefully make it up to the mountain, a super nice stranger driving by, Rachel, asked if we were headed up to the resort and needed a ride, an offer we couldn’t turn down, since she had a 4WD vehicle haha. As we pulled into the parking lot, people were pouring in, trying to get a taste of the newly blanketed mountain. You could easily feel the stoke of everyone around, it’s hard to not get excited when you’re about to float through the 40cms of new snow.

Hot Tub viewpoint

Covered…


Once we grabbed our lift ticket and threw our gear into a locker, we got into line, awaited the lift to start spinning and when 8:30am rolled around, off we went, with everyone screaming with excitement. The first couple turns have no words to describe it, it was beautiful. With Whitewater still being a family owned resort, the lifts only host two people, providing the old school powder experience. We spent the majority of day on the Silver King lift, it had plenty of runs that dipped and dodged through the trees and more pillow fields than one could deal with in a single day. Whitewater delivered….and it delivered well. So rad to experience a powder mountain on a powder day, it’s days like this when living in a van in the middle of winter makes so much sense. These are the days you live for and chase on the daily.

The Stoke Is HIGH

DAMN!

Ready to Rip!

Dropping into the good stuff!

Yew!!

Happy Roamers!

Pillow Mania!


Per usual, it’s always sad to see such an awesome day end, but exhaustion was setting in. We hopped in the shuttle, headed back to a snow covered van and spent the rest of the fading daylight digging out our buried home. Our sleep that night came easy. The next day we wandered around town, grabbed coffee at Empire Coffee and with the sun out, it gave us the opportunity to see the snowy mountain walls the encompassed Nelson. It’s clear to see why my grandparents chose to live here for so many years, the place is the template mountain town; nice people, good food, and a pristine outdoor playground, I could see us living here in the future.

Beautiful Downtown Nelson!

Where my Nana used to live!


With the roads and weather making a turn for the positive, we got the Yeti rolling towards Revelstoke. A storm was making its way through within the next couple days and we wanted to be back in Revy for deep and steep laps. The drive was as nice as any other mountain corridor with the added ferry ride that connects the highway routes. We pulled into a sunny and hardly recognizable town since it was covered in white precipitation. The last time we were in Revy, the town had green grass and was raining, winter was showing it’s face in every corner of the province. That night, we hung with friends, shared some brews, played Settlers of Catan (if you have never played this, you are blowing it) and got ourselves stoked for the incoming storm.

The Ferry Highway

The Yeti going for a little boat ride!

Very true

Friends and Board Games, the recipe for lost friendships haha.


The following morning, the snow started to pour as we awoke, as the day progressed it only got harder. As we continued with our errands throughout the day, the town proceeded to become completely buried which could only mean the same thing was happening on the mountain. That night we spent it in the Revy Resort parking lot along with the dozens of other campers, hoping to get a good spot in the line in the AM. The Revy lot always has the best vibes, always filled with tons of shredders who are just happy to be outside and enjoying the mountain, no other BS.

Buried in Revy! Woo!

Good looking Morning!


We awoke to 20cms of fresh up top! Got ourselves in line around 7am, chatted with some locals, grabbed the needed caffeine and stretched the muscles. Luckily for us, we got to spend the day with our good friends, Jay and Julien, along with their local friends, Chuck and Brooke who took us around to the spots only the locals know about. Another one of those days that allowed us to appreciate this life we’re living and how luckily we’ve been this winter. It was a day of jumping off cliffs, bootpacking to bowls filled with the goods and hitting side hits with your friends throwing down. We even had Kayley jumping off stuff! Super rad! Thanks again Jay and Julien for always being the ultimate fun havers and tour guides! Chuck and Brooke, you guys are radical humans and make snowboarding look way too easy!

Up and up to find the goods

Scoping the line

Ready to move out.

3,2,1 DROP!

Breakfast views

Locals know what’s up!

Not a bad place to hang!


Kayley unfortunately felt the oncoming symptoms of a cold the subsequent morning, curtailing another day of riding. We decided to make our way to Kelowna and meet up with Mitch for a relaxing Wax party (Our boards were screaming for a wax job!). The ensuing days we relaxed, hung out with Mitch in his apartment (Thanks again bud for letting us abuse your hospitality!), and hiked around. It was time for us to start making our way back to Vancouver, the catalyst being an RCMP officer questioning me as I was making coffee in our usual public-park spot. He framed his concern more as an interest in our camper, but it was clear he was wondering what I was doing cooking outside the vehicle and what we were doing out here from Ontario. After taking down our info and looking inside our van, he moved on and so did we. Just like what happened in Olympia, WA, I understand the concerns people have but I mean what threat do we really pose, the more people start moving towards this lifestyle or form of travel, I wonder how accepted or persecuted it will become, I guess only time will tell.

We arrived in Vancouver at the beginning of a massive rainstorm, meaning we didn’t do much other than sit in coffee shops and watched tv shows. Really we were just killing time until my brother arrived within the next couple days to shred with us in Whistler for a week. When the rain subsided, we drove to Squamish to see a couple buddies of mine who currently reside there. As we pulled into town and stopped off at the local Starbucks to get in touch with them, I luckily ran into one of them (How’s that saying go? It’s a small world or something like that…). Tony recently moved out to Squamish from our hometown of Ajax, Ontario. His intention was to explore around BC for the winter and spring but once arriving in Squamish, quickly realizing it was too beautiful and offered too much of what he wanted to leave. We chatted for a bit, then later making our way to a local watering hole for happy-hour drinks, with our other buddie Matt eventually making his way over. Matt, also from Ajax, maneuvered his way out here from Nova Scotia last year in his camper, now being settled in with a job at a rad Burger joint that overlooks the coastal mountain range while still living the camper lifestyle allowing him to climb whenever he wants! The next day brought sun, giving it the perfect opportunity for them to tour us around the area and it didn’t disappoint. If you are ever in Squamish, I urge you to check out two things, Howe Sound, probably the most Canadian scenery I’ve ever seen and Matt’s restaurant, The Watershed Grill, between the great beer and food, it’s a must. Tony and Matt, keep living your dreams and being awesome people, the world appreciates it!

Sea Treasure! (Jericho Beach, BC)

Bookstore Kitty! 🙂

Back window views (Squamish, BC)

Rad Artwork Downtown Squam.

Howe Sound!

Little Rainbow Dude

Beautiful Squamton


Matt was expected to arrive as we continued the drive to Whistler. I was pretty excited. He had never been this far out west, and had never rode his snowboard on a mountain like Whistler Blackcomb. He arrived and I couldn’t of been happier to see him! (Also, stoked to be in the presence of a hotel room for the next 6 days.) With the weather looking favourable this week, he was amped to see what this place had to offer. Our first day involved just Matt and myself since Kay was taking the day off to completely recover from her cold. It was a stormy one, but still an enjoyable one for us, Matt got his first taste of the big mountain shred, I even took him to the Flute Bowl and got his legs burning a bit. We met up with my buddy Paz where we spent the rest of the day surfing around, trying to find some fresh. With the snow continuing throughout the afternoon and evening, we knew tomorrow was going to be a stellar one.

A very happy Matt

Matt conquered Flute Bowl

Diving in the shallow end.


I checked my phone early the next morning to reports saying the mountain got anywhere between 15-20cms of new snow! I was stoked to give Matt his first real powder experience. With the Symphony Chair not opening due to Avy Control, we took the Peak2Peak and hit up 7th Heaven on the Blackcomb side and it was well worth it. The deep stuff could be found all day and Matt handled it super well for this being his 2nd day out on his board this winter. I had him jumping over and through trees, spraying the pow around and had him smiling, yelling hell yeah!! Although with Pow days come tired legs, that night we stuffed our faces and sat in front of the tv.

Today’s surf stick

Beautiful Morning

Mystic

Peak2Peak

Peak Views

Slashing around

Hello Birdy

Matt getting the tourist experience

Mayhem

Surf’s up in 7th Heaven


We took a day off, giving us a chance to rest the legs and have a day to completely just chill out. We wandered around the village, grabbed drinks and food at Tapley’s, chatted, consumed more television and grabbed rest for the ensuing day. Our 3rd day on the mountain was a blue-bird one, giving Matt the trifecta of mountain conditions. The day was dedicated to exploring the entire mountain, working our way from the far side on Whistler to the far side on Blackcomb. Groomers in the morning was super fun, great day for laying down heel-side turns and gripping with speed. We clocked many miles that day. By the time late afternoon rolled around, the runs were tracked and icy. With my knee burning and their tired legs, it was a sign to call it day and thank the mountain for all the fun.

Hotel Living

Nothing wrong with a sunny groomer day!

Blue-Birdin it!

Groomed for Speed. Yew!


Of course the week went by fast, before I knew it I was hugging him good-bye, time flies as it does when you are having a good time. It was awesome to spend time with Matt, being able to share moments on our snowboards and enjoy each other’s company. Thanks Matt for choosing to donate your week off with us, probably the best week we’ve had this winter! Can’t wait to do it again bud!

This last month was another one for the books, saw my dad which was refreshing, it was a special moment for me to walk around Nelson after hearing about it since I was a child, spending time on the mountain with good friends, and shredding around Whistler with my brother. Hard not to feel grateful.

Shannon Falls, Squamish BC.


Currently, we are sitting in a Starbucks, multitasking our wifi usage, and getting ourselves ready for a big trip below the boarder. We will be making our way to Sun Valley ID, Jackson Hole WY, Snowbird UT, Snowmass CO and Squaw Valley CA. Regardless of the weather we receive or whatever happens along the way, it’ll be a rad adventure I’m sure.

Remember to Get Out There and be a good human!

-Chris