Backcountry Journal: Biking, Paddling, & Hiking in British Columbia
In British Columbia, Canada, tucked alongside the Columbia River, you’ll find the tiny town of Revelstoke nestled under a multitude of lofty glaciated peaks. Yearning for an escape from Utah’s summer inferno, I stuffed my Subaru with my mountain bike, paddleboard, and backpacking gear to see what this famed ski town had to offer.
Photos by Bruno Long
Surrounded by National Parks, Revelstoke boasts a rich heritage in forestry, the railway industry and ski jumping. My adventure began with a mountain bike ride on the high alpine singletrack of Frisby Ridge. I marveled at stunning panoramic views of glaciers clinging to peaks of the Monashee range, Lake Revelstoke, crystalline tarns, and alpine meadows. Closer to town, we sampled the winding trails of Mt. MacPherson before heading out to the remote Sol Mountain Backcountry Lodge for hiking, biking and paddling. Only accessible by helicopter or snowmobile in the winter (or a jarring car ride along logging roads in the summer), Sol Mountain provided a total escape and blissful solitude—not to mention jaw-dropping sunsets. As it turned out, three weeks wasn’t nearly enough time to conquer all the objectives on my Revelstoke hit list. Paddling on Sol Lake, peak-bagging in the Selkirks, backpacking in the Monashees, and huckleberry hunting all the while convinced me that I needed to return this winter to determine if Revelstoke’s famed powder could possibly best Utah’s ‘Greatest Snow on Earth.’ I’ll be back … Eh!
Juliana Furtado Carbon Primeiro Complete Mountain Bike
Having agonized over a bike purchase for months, I finally settled on the Carbon Juliana Furtado Primeiro. I needed a whip that could help my sluggish legs climb faster, descend harder, and progress my riding. I looked to Santa Cruz, which has created the Juliana line of ladies’ bikes to serve women who demand performance—I can say I’ve loved my summer spent with the Carbon Juliana Furtado Primeiro. You’ll be beating the boys uphill with the featherweight carbon construction of this bike—I can lift it with one arm! 27.5in wheels and 5 inches of travel make for smooth uphill grinds and adrenaline-fueled descents. With a comfy saddle, compact handlebars, and shorter cranks the Julian Furtado Carbon Primeiro is engineered with female proportions in mind. I found the Fox 32 Float CTD fork with a Kashima coating to be incredibly solid and predicable, especially when exploring rough terrain. The best part: the RockShox Reverb Stealth Dropper Seatpost allows you to adjust the height of your seatpost on the fly. Loaded with premium components, this bike will shred trail sunrise to sunset.
Stumbling upon the Epic Bars while surfing Backcountry.com one day, my interest—and appetite— were instantly ignited. Could a nutritional bar made of meat actually be edible or was this a wicked case of sweaty meat burps waiting to happen? Crafted with grass-fed, hormone-free meat, Epic bars deliver a big dose of Omega-3s loaded in the four different flavor options of turkey, beef, bison or lamb. I found the texture more tender than jerky and the savory flavor staved off hunger for hours. I determined that Epic bars taste most delicious when enjoyed in epic places, such as the top of Fred Laing Ridge—those views of the Monashee, Selkirk and Rocky Mountain ranges converging left me feeling ravenous. These delicious, lightly smoked meats are blended with nuts and dehydrated fruit to provide athletes with a protein-loaded nutritional boost. A tempting alternative to sticky, sweet goos and gels, the Epic bar is best enjoyed for slower activities like hiking, backpacking, paddleboarding, or fly fishing. If bacon is your jam, then Epic bars are your new best friend. I highly recommend the lamb currant mint flavor, which was finger-licking delicious.
Tahoe SUP Alpine Explorer Stand-Up Paddleboard
I used the 11-foot Tahoe SUP Alpine Explorer Stand up Paddleboard to do just that: explore alpine lakes and venture where no paddleboard had floated before! Its portability allowed me to claim
bragging rights to the first paddling exploration of Sol Lake in the Monashee range while we were staying at the Sol Mountain Lodge. With it deflated and rolled up into the included backpack, I easily hiked the Alpine Explorer up the 45-minute trek to the lake with only a little assistance from my gentleman. I could also effortlessly pack the 22lb Alpine Explorer in my Subaru and drive north 1,000 miles with no concerns about investing in a rack or securing it to my roof. The included pump with a PSI gauge works well, inflating the board in about 10 minutes. With its added central air chamber and 15 PSI inflation limit, this SUP felt rigid for an inflatable board and was great for touring. The Alpine Explorer tracks straight with its dual 10in rear fins and the thick 6in construction lent stability and buoyancy, key in cold water! You can easily stash both gear and beer with the fore or aft bungee attachments. I was so pleased with the Alpine Explorer’s performance that I just purchased another so friends can join me!
Bending Branches Amp Adjustable Stand-Up Paddle
As an avid crafter and Pinterest addict, I have a keen passion for handcrafted goods, especially those constructed right here in America! Bending Branches got its start in Wisconsin in 1982 when two buddies began hand-building canoe paddles in their garage just for kicks. Today all Bending Branches paddles are handmade in Osceola, Wisconsin and continue to propel paddlers with their unique wooden blades. The Amp Adjustable Stand-Up Paddle had spent an agonizing seven months on my Backcountry.com wishlist, but I decided it was finally time to pull the trigger and bring it with me to explore chilly Canadian waters. Fashioned with a stunning blend of red alder and black willow wood, the Amp is not only a work of art (seriously, it hangs on my wall) but a highly functional, lightweight paddle. Considering its 10 inches of adjustability, you’ll be surprised by how weightless this paddle feels, thanks to the aviation-grade carbon shaft. The shape of the wood blade and the 10-degree angle reduce flutter and increase paddling efficiency. I found the Amp comfortable to use for long hours and the red alder grip nestled snugly in my hand. A pleasure to use and easy on the eyes, the Amp is without a doubt the best SUP paddle I’ve wielded to date.
Arc’teryx Altra 62 Backpack
Leaving the Sol Mountain Lodge to backpack around the Monashee mountain range, I used the Arc’teryx Altra 62 Backpack to haul my gear and a sizable helping of Epic bars. As a petite female, I’ve struggled to find a pack that could comfortably carry heavy loads but I found that the Altra, with its pear-like shape, moved fluidly with my gait. The Load Transfer Disc means the pack will actually move with the motion of your hips, preventing the awkward duck trudging I’ve experienced in the past. My hefty burden was well-balanced, and I felt contented as we huffed up steep trails to explore alpine meadows dotted with tarns, lakes and the last of summer’s wildflowers. Unpacking and setting up camp was a cinch thanks to the top and front access points on the Altra pack, which made finding gear easy– just like a suitcase! Designed on the wild, wet, west coast of Canada, it was neat to try this pack in its natural habitat. The silicone-treated fabric resisted light rain and moisture as we navigated through forests and rugged terrain. As a fully adjustable pack available in two sizes the Altra 62 is perfectly suited for ladies hitting the trail on multi-day excursions. I’m really looking forward to using this pack for backcountry skiing yurt trips this winter!
The North Face Banchee 65 Backpack
On the same trek my boyfriend stuffed all his gear (and camera accessories) in The North Face Banchee 65 Backpack. At just over 3.5 pounds, the Banchee was a highly adjustable yet also lightweight option for our multi-day excursion. Hauling so much camera gear meant the ounces really mattered, and to find such an adjustable pack in this weight range is rare! He found the pack offered great load control and breathability with the trampoline-style back panel. The Banchee provides a cushy suspension system that isn’t often found in a pack this light. He was able to stuff extra gear and a rain shell in the three pockets along the back, which North Face calls the ‘Beaver Tail’ – very appropriate when backpacking Canada. I even kept my supply of extra-strength bug spray in one of his Beaver Tail pockets so I could grab it quickly (and frequently) to fend off the ravenous Canadian mosquitos. As we settled down for the night near a small alpine pool, my boyfriend admitted the Banchee pack was much easier to organize with its 8+ pockets and sleeping bag compartment than his old pack. When you’re ready to hit the trail, you’ll find the Banchee series is available in three different volumes and a women-specific version.
The North Face Hightail 15 Degree Down Sleeping Bag
As the North Face’s lightest and most compressible sleeping bag, the Hightail 15 Degree Down bag served my boyfriend well while snoozing in the high alpine. Its meager two pounds compressed into a tiny bundle and didn’t take up much space in the Banchee pack. The fluffy 850-fill down feathers provided excellent warmth while we slept in temps around the high 30s. My boyfriend found the Hightail to easily transition from the high alpine backcountry to the backyard, where we crashed for a friend’s rowdy wedding celebration. Increasing the versatility and temperature range of this bag, the two-way zipper acts as a footbox vent, keeping you cool and ventilated on balmy nights. A bit roomier than a traditional mummy bag, he found the shape of the sack to be comfortable and unrestricting without sacrificing warmth or comfort.