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National Parks





Welcome to Canada’s first National Urban Park SHORT AND SWEAT Are shorter sessions the key to reaching your goals? KASHMIR Danger Zone or Dream Vacation?


> Spend or Save? > Warmth War


| FALL 2012 | free |

Maybe you should get out more.

The new 2013 Subaru Outback.

They say fresh air clears the mind. Perhaps that explains the exceptional thinking behind the 2013 Outback. Refined from the inside out, including a new 2.5-litre SUBARU BOXER engine that produces increased performance, yet with greater fuel efficiency. Or available EyeSight™ driver-assist system that monitors the road and can recognize potential danger – acting as your second set of eyes.** And of course our acclaimed symmetrical full-time All-Wheel Drive to get you as far away from the city – and the endangered list – as possible. Learn more at





*MSRP of $28,495 on 2013 Outback 2.5i Convenience Package (DD1 CP). Model shown is 2013 Outback 3.6R Limited Package (DD2 LN6) with an MSRP of $38,495. Taxes, licence, registration and insurance are extra. $0 security deposit. Dealers may sell for less or may have to order or trade. Offers applicable on approved credit at participating dealers only. Vehicle shown solely for purposes of illustration, and may not be equipped exactly as shown. See your local Subaru dealer or visit for complete program details. **EyeSight™ is a driver-assist system, which may not operate optimally under all driving conditions. EyeSight™ is not designed as a substitute for due care and attention to the road. The system may not react in every situation. The driver is always responsible for safe and attentive driving. System effectiveness depends on many factors such as vehicle maintenance, and weather and road conditions. Finally, even with the advanced technology activated, a driver with good vision and who is paying attention will always be the best safety system. See Owner’s Manual for complete details on system operation and limitations. †It is possible to travel up to 1,076 km on one tank of fuel based on estimated fuel consumption figure rating posted by Natural Resources Canada of 6.5L/100 km (highway) for a 2013 Subaru Outback equipped with continuously variable automatic transmission and a 70L fuel tank capacity. Actual fuel consumption will vary based on driving conditions, driver habits and vehicle load.

Content FALL 2012


Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula offers a setting reminiscent of a Group of Seven landscape painting. So it’s no surprise urbanites are willing to make the three-hour trip northwest from the GTA to the peninsula’s two national parks. Some sail the blue waters around Georgian Bay, others hit the mountain bike trails. We think there’s time for both.

04 EDITOR’S NOTE FIELD REPORT 06 Swiss Army Invasion 08

The Pros & Cons of 29ers


Barefoot Running Coach App


Out for a Scare




WELCOME TO THE PEOPLE’S PARK Seven million Canadians live within an hour’s drive of what will soon be Canada’s first National Urban Park. Nestled in the GTA, it’s a milestone addition – but the journey has been a long one.


WEEKEND GETAWAY He’s an expert mountain biker, she’s a newbie. The goal? To develop a shared love of the sport – while staying in love with each other.


NATIONAL PARKS In Your Own Backyard


GLOBETROTTER Kashmir: Danger Zone or Dream Vacation?

GEAR 24 Spend or Save? 26

Warmth War

© Parks Canada


SHORT AND SWEAT Are shorter sessions at a higher intensity the key to reaching your fitness goals?




distracted. I always keep in mind that I am vulnerable in the face of these steel monsters. To date, I haven’t been involved in a serious bike accident, but that wouldn’t be the case if I weren’t hyper-aware of my surroundings.



have been complaining about motorists for years, dubbing them dangerous and careless morons. I’ve tried a few times to understand the phenomenon by asking our contributors to delve into this thorny issue. To date, none of their articles has been published in our pages: The copy was always filled with resentment toward dangerous drivers, without ever questioning cyclists’ behaviour. Because truth be told, there are wrongs on both sides of the issue. When I’m driving on the streets of Montreal, I often share the annoyance of drivers as some cyclists pedal in the middle of the street blocking traffic, while others zigzag dangerously between cars – not to mention those who completely ignore stop signs and traffic lights. I am a cyclist and I like to ride fast. I find it infuriating to slow down behind a Bixi on a bike path, waiting for my chance to pass. It is also true that when the situation permits, I don’t always respect stop signs. But to throw all of the blame at drivers will not

solve the issue. To understand the mutual animosity, we have to look at how public roadways are used and shared. Let’s be honest: Bicycles should be banned on streets like Saint-Denis, Papineau or Saint-Laurent. Cars can dominate these major arteries while cyclists seek refuge in the neighbouring side streets, avoiding accidents and enjoying a much more pleasant ride. When I’m driving, I often see cyclists riding north on Christophe-Colomb above highway 40 when there’s a great bike path right on the other side of the street. Seriously, get out of there! Can’t you see that the city has invested in great infrastructure for you? Use your judgment to determine risks, remove your headphones from your ears and wear a helmet. And, for goodness’ sake, pedal where it’s not dangerous! Everywhere, bike paths are being extended – use these designated routes and exercise caution when you exit them. On my road bike, I’ve had a few close calls. I’ve avoided several accidents because I’m convinced that motorists aren’t paying attention to their manoeuvres or are simply

Let’s be honest: Bicycles should be banned on some streets. Cars can dominate these major arteries while cyclists seek refuge in the neighbouring side streets, avoiding accidents and enjoying a much more pleasant ride. In a pack, I’ve sometimes felt uncomfortable about occupying so much room on the road and infringing upon the space of cars. But if you move out of the way promptly to let traffic through, drivers generally pass quickly without honking or hurling insults. It’s when the pack is blocking traffic flow that drivers become enraged behind the wheel and try to reclaim their part of the asphalt. There will always be human error, and our roads will remain dangerous as long as dangerous drivers have a driver’s licence. But in order to one day truly share the road, the first essential step is to shed the “bikes vs. cars” mindset. Chris Levesque, Editor @chrislevesque

Fall 2012 :: Vol. 4 :: No. 3 PUBLISHER: Stéphane Corbeil ( EDITOR: Chris Levesque ( SENIOR EDITOR: Stephania Varalli | CONTRIBUTORS: Matt Colautti, Bryen Dunn, Peter Dobos, Patrice Halley,

Sally Heath, Ilona Kauremszky, Shelagh McNally, Travis Persaud.

PROOFREADER: Christopher Korchin TRANSLATOR: Christine Laroche COVER PHOTO: Located in the heart of the Ottawa River, the Parc national

de Plaisance is an idyllic place to relax and watch nature. / © Parc national de Plaisance, ASAHI Photo, Sépaq


Jean-François Vedeboncoeur, Sales Manager / 514-277-3477, ext.27 Jon Marcotte, Account Executive / 514-277-3477, ext. 26 Michel Desforges, Account Executive / 514-277-3477, ext. 29 Joanne Bond, Sales Assistant / 514-277-3477, ext. 30

DESIGN: Sève Création, WEBSITE: EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT: 514-277-3477 / MAILING ADDRESS: Groupe Espaces Inc 911 Jean Talon St. E., Suite 205 Montreal (Quebec) H2R 1V5

CIRCULATION: 60,000 copies distributed to outdoor enthusiasts everywhere. ADVENTURA is published four times a year by Groupe Espaces Inc., a division of Gesca Publishing Inc.

ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS: ADVENTURA welcomes editorial and photo submissions,

which must be sent by e-mail only. Contact the Editor to discuss. ADVENTURA is not responsible for articles, photographs or any other material sent to its attention. If you do not keep a copy of ADVENTURA magazine for your personal archives, please give it to a friend or recycle it.The opinions expressed are those of the authors and are not necessarily shared by Groupe Espaces Inc. Some of the activities reported on in ADVENTURA could entail injury risks for anyone engaging in them. ADVENTURA and its reporters, contributors, photographers and other staff members do not recommend the practice of these activities by anyone who does not have the required skills and technique. ADVENTURA is not responsible for the information contained in advertisements. Any reproduction of material published in ADVENTURA is prohibited without the expressed consent of Groupe Espaces Inc.

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The Swiss have landed in Toronto, with North America’s first Victorinox Swiss Army flagship store. It’s the fourth in the world – meaning Torontonians now have access to one of the best collections of Swiss Army gear on the globe. Joining the Bloor shopping strip at the corner of St. Thomas Street, it’s a one-stop location for everything Swiss Army: timepieces, travel gear, fragrance, professional cutlery, fashion and – of course – Original Swiss Army Knives. With 3,400 square feet of space, there’s room for a wide selection, including the Canadian introduction of their women’s apparel line. Like their men’s line, the focus is on style meeting function, with every design detail proving that they really do think of everything. And just like the knives they are best known for, there’s quality in every product. So if you thought Swiss Army wasn’t anything more than a multi-tool, head down to see what they’ve got to offer. After 128 years, the brand is still innovating. Victorinox Swiss Army • 95A Bloor St. W., Toronto • 416-929-9889 •


This new SwissChamp features nearly every tool you can think of – 69 in total – packed behind a classy hardwood handle. The unique design will have you looking good whether you’re using the hook disgorger, wood saw, can opener, ruler, large blade, wire cutters, tweezers, corkscrew, ballpoint pen... SwissChamp, Hardwood | $175


The fleece keeps you warm, while the bright nylon facing on one side adds a pop of colour. If that’s not enough to get you noticed, there’s a reflective stripe as well – on a zipper that reveals a polyester stow-away hood. Need more? How about a hidden security pocket for stashing valuables. Fribourg Scarf | $75


Grey wool bonded to a water-repellent backing keeps you cozy even if the ground is a bit damp. The attached leather handle and signature red-and-blue tape with snap-buckle closures make it simple to roll up and carry to whatever site you pick. Matterhorn Travel Blanket | $145


The built-to-last stainless steel implements on the SwissTool Spirit can withstand extended use and abuse, so feel free to put all 27 tools to hard work. Bonus: All of them can be opened from the outside of the handle without opening the pliers. SwissTool Spirit | $120


U.K. designer Christopher Raeburn collaborated with Swiss Army to create the PROTECT capsule collection, which includes this water-repellent vest that packs into its own left-hand pocket, and features transferable front-toback body pockets. PROTECT Packable Vest | $450 6 FALL 2012


Urban adventurers will appreciate the 40-g polyfill insulation in the body and sleeves of this jacket, not to mention the reflective print on the soft-shell undercollar, and zippered pockets – one on the outside, one safely hidden inside. Leiden Insulated Blazer | $395


Does Bigger Mean Better?


Any mountain biker that hasn’t been living under a rock knows about 29ers. In the last few years they have become more commercially available, and it’s no longer an oddity to see one rolling past you on the trail. Experts have been debating for years about whether these supersized wheels offer a better ride than the traditional 26-inchers, and as their popularity grows, more newbies are beginning to ask the question: “Is a 29er the better option?” The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. 29ers have their pros and cons, and depending on the rider and the terrain they can be a perfect fit, or a big disappointment. Here are a few things to consider if you are in the market for a new mountain bike, and aren’t quite sure if a 29er is right for you:



Are riding more open trails with small obstacles.

The larger wheels on a 29er will roll over a small log like it’s not even there. Or at least with more ease – and losing less speed – than on a 26-inch bike. That’s mainly thanks to a higher attack angle. Plus, it does really well once you’ve got your momentum going on an open trail.

Are riding super-tight, ultra-twisty trails.

If you are the kind of rider that speeds around super-tight corners, you will find a 26-inch bike is a safer bet. Flickability is not something the 29er is known for – you’ll need more energy to change the steering angle.

Were planning on getting a hardtail.

There’s a reason that 29ers are literally taking over the hardtail market: The kind of riding most people plan on doing on a hardtail matches up with the kind of riding a 29er is best for.

Are over six feet tall.

Legs like a giraffe? You might find the larger geometry of the bike to be more comfortable. Plus, taller riders seem to have fewer complaints about manoeuvrability. It’s worth a test ride.

Are under five and a half feet tall.

It might be more difficult to find a bike that works for your smaller size, as you may have issues with things like standover height and toe overlap (when your foot hits your turning front wheel). It is not mission impossible though, and as 29ers grow in popularity, shorter riders are finding options without having to go for custom builds.

Are worried about acceleration.

Even 29er enthusiasts have to admit it: A bigger wheel size means you aren’t going to pick up speed as quickly. That first push of the pedal will take more effort on a 29er than it will on the traditional 26-inch bike.

Are worried about hills.

Once you get that 29er rolling, you’ll hold onto the speed with more ease – and that means a long, steady chug will seem less taxing, especially if you ride into the hill with some momentum.

Love the outdoors and

ADVENTURA? We’d love to hear from you! Take our survey. Go to the online issue of the magazine at or scan this QR code with your mobile device 8 FALL 2012

Better Barefoot


Followers of the barefoot running movement know that once we shoved our feet into footwear, our capacity to run diminished at the same time as our chronic injuries increased. Padded running shoes are the main culprit, causing us to run with an unnatural heel-strike gait instead of a mid-foot or forefoot strike. Unfortunately, switching to minimalist running shoes doesn’t instantly solve the problem. VIVOBAREFOOT’s ultra-thin, puncture-resistant line of footwear gives us the experience of running barefoot, but what it can’t do is correct bad technique. That’s where VIVOBAREFOOT’s Barefoot Running Coach comes in. This interactive app was created in conjunction with biomechanics expert Lee Saxby and guides you through the whole concept of barefoot running. Download the app onto your iPhone or iPad, sync up the video and record yourself running on the treadmill. Afterwards, analyze your recording to determine if you’re running like a heel-striking jogger, an unskilled novice or a barefoot pro. Copy techniques while you run to improve your posture, rhythm, relaxation and foot strike. Compare your progress, learn tips and create a tailored program of training drills that will help you reach your goal of becoming a barefoot runner. It’s like having your own personal running coach, all for $2.99. Available on iTunes •




ONTARIO HAS NO SHORTAGE OF CAMPFIRE GHOST STORIES AND HALLOWEEN-WORTHY HAUNTED HOUSES. BUT THE MOST SINISTER HAUNTS ARE FOUND WELL OUTSIDE OF THE CITIES, HIDDEN IN BACKCOUNTRY LANDSCAPES, WAITING TO TERRIFY A NEW GROUP OF DARING VISITORS. DEVIL’S ROCK New Liskeard Lake Temiskaming may shimmer on the surface, but according to legend a terror lurks in the deep. Little is known about the lake monster called Mugwump, and the few eyewitness reports only agree on one thing: It’s big. Could it be an ancient amphibian? A dinosaur? A seven-metre sturgeon? Without visiting the lake’s 200-metre-deep crevasses, we can’t be sure. Bold visitors hoping for a glimpse of the creature are better off climbing to the higher vantage of Devil’s Rock. For rock climbers, this means a multi-pitch trad climb up the 100-metre granite cliffs that rise up from the lake’s western shore. For hikers, the route is a steep three-kilometre walk through the forest. The views of Lake Temiskaming, a large rift in the Canadian Shield, are stunning – with or without a sighting of Mugwump. After the climb, cool off with a swim in the lake if you dare.

© ILIA Shalamaev

THE PHILO SCOVILLE Tobermory A vicious autumn storm pounds the shores of Tobermory on the night of October 5, 1889. The 139-foot Philo Scoville, a schooner bound for Michigan, is seized by the winds. The crew drops anchor in a desperate attempt to save the ship. The raging storm is too strong, and by morning the vessel has been dashed against the rocky shore of Russel Island. The Scoville soon takes its place on the cold bottom of Lake Huron. The waters around Tobermory, the “Shipwreck Capital of Canada,” are littered with sunken schooners, lost cargo and the ghosts of their drowned captains. Some wrecks, like the W.L. Wetmore and the Alice G, are easily accessible from town and can be visited by snorkellers. Others, like the Scoville or the Arabia, are at scuba diving depths, eerily preserved in their silent, underwater graves.

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THE BLACK DONNELLYS Lucan The picturesque rolling hills and farm fields of Lucan, near London, hide one of Ontario’s darkest nightmares. The Donnellys were a family of Irish immigrants with a long history of bullying the townspeople. On the snowy evening of February 4, 1880, a mob burned the Donnellys and their homestead to the ground. No one was convicted of the massacre, but the “Black Donnellys” have haunted the township ever since. If you dare, Lucan is a scenic 30-kilometre cycle from London. Three kilometres east of town, gravestones of the family can be found in a sinister cemetery behind St. Patrick’s Church. From there, the Donnellys’ haunted homestead is seven kilometres north on the infamous Roman Line. In this area, horses have been known to become possessed and run around in circles as if pursued by phantoms. In fact, according to legend, horses refuse to pass the Donnelly property altogether. Bicycles should fare better, but be sure to return to London well before nightfall.


Over the last few years I have had the great experience of

skiing to both the North and South Poles as well as skiing and dog sledding across Baffin Island’s Auyuittuq National Park. With this base, as well as input from a number of polar guides, we have developed a complete Baffin clothing system that can outfit any polar adventurer from head to toe.

While you may not be planning a full blown polar journey, you can be assured that Baffin’s Polar Proven gear will get you down through a full on powderday, a weekend winter camping trip or a hike with man’s best friend. We remain focused on being the undisputed leader in outdoor performance footwear and apparel; providing quality, comfort and protection through constant real world testing and technical innovation.

Baffin’s Paul Hubner


Summer’s end may be near, but that shouldn’t mean farewell to the outdoors. We’ve selected our favourite one-day excursions to keep you

River City

Think the only way to experience nature is to get yourself out of the city? Think again. If you live in Toronto and have never checked out the Humber River, you’re missing out on an outdoor adventure that’s only a 20-minute drive from Dundas Square in the heart of downtown. Skyscrapers and billboards will be the last thing on your mind as you wind your way along this scenic route surrounded by forest and marsh. You’ll also be spotting more wildlife than you thought possible this close to the city’s core. Keep an eye out for trout, salmon, herons, ducks, geese, swans, beavers, coyotes, turtles... and the list goes on. Combined with the changing colours of autumn, it’s a complete escape from the downtown bustle. And you don’t need to be a kayaking expert to enjoy it. If you put in at the public boat launch at King’s Mill Park, the Humber River moves at a slow pace all the way down to Lake Ontario,

By Stephania Varalli

offering a relaxed two-kilometre paddle that’s kind to newbies. You can also go upstream for about a kilometre and check out the Old Mill. Since it’s possible to paddle back up the river, there’s no need to drop a car at the end of your route. More advanced paddlers can start further up the Humber where the water is faster-flowing, but expect to find a few obstacles along the way, including deadfalls and weirs. When the water is calm, you can also extend your adventure along the shore of Lake Ontario. Just pass below the cyclists and pedestrians on the Humber Bay Arch Bridge, and swing a left to check out the beaches to the east. Activity: Kayaking Level: Beginner

Season: Best in summer to fall, weather permitting Getting there: There’s free parking by the public boat launch at King’s Mill Park, or it’s a short walk from the Old Mill Station on the Bloor-Danforth Line of the TTC. Cost: Kayaks are available for rent ($30, one-person; $50, two-person) from Toronto Adventures. For $20–$30 more per person (depending on weekday or weekend tours), you can also get a paddling lesson and tour. Gear: Kayak, paddles, PFD (life jacket) Other activities: Canoeing For more:



FYI: Montreal’s an Island

© RouteBleueVoyageurs

By Peter Dobos


Pedalling the PRRT

The Prescott and Russell Recreational Trail (PRRT) is 72 km of former railway line that has been transformed into a multipurpose, vehicle-free, flat-surface trail suitable for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. It encompasses five different counties and several small villages along the route from just east of Ottawa through to the Quebec border. The surface of the trail is stone dust, except for four paved sections of two km each near the villages of Vankleek Hill (Highway 34), Plantagenet, Bourget and St-Eugène, which are also trail access points with pavilion areas offering parking, information and other facilities. This is also where dining and accommodation options can be found for those seeking more than a day trip. As well, the town of Alfred has a couple campgrounds suitable for cyclists not far off the trail. Along the way, riders pass through residential areas, wetlands, agricultural fields and wooded areas offering the opportunity to spot a variety of flora and fauna. Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company is located approximately three km from where the PRRT crosses Highway 34 in Vankleek Hill, and has a large patio where you can relax and enjoy a beverage and lunch. For the more ambitious cyclists, the City of Ottawa recently opened a 23-km “link” that allows riders to connect to the beginning of the PRRT trail, and on the opposite end riders 12 fall 2012

By Bryen Dunn

from Montreal can connect via the Route Verte system of trails. Special events take place throughout the year in the area and can be found on the PRRT trail website. As well, The Great Ramble, Ben’s Cycle Tour and Vélo Tour offer annual rides of varying lengths. The trail and facilities are open and maintained from May to October for cyclists. Activity: Cycling Level: Easy to moderate depending on cycling ability and distances covered. Flat surface makes it ideal for families and novices. Season: May to October Getting there: From Ottawa, the closest vehicle pavilion access area is just outside of Hammond, Ontario. Cost: Free Gear: Bicycle, helmet, repair kit, water bottles Other activities: Hiking, camping, nature walks, swimming For more: PRRT Association – (online maps offer a variety of cycling loops) Tourist Information – (provides accommodation and attractions information)

It’s easy to miss it once you’re downtown, but Montreal is completely surrounded by water – it’s a bona fide island. There’s even a canal cutting through it, so all in all it’s a great place to go sea kayaking without leaving the comfy trappings of civilization. The province of Quebec established the Sentier maritime du Saint-Laurent in 2002, which allows people to take advantage of the myriad opportunities for great kayak trips along this historic waterway. As of 2012, the Sentier has eight sections (called the Route Bleue). They follow both shores of the St. Lawrence River from the Quebec-Ontario border all the way around the Gaspé Peninsula to New Brunswick, in the case of the southern shore. The northern route goes up to Baie-Trinité, which is over 500 km east of Quebec City. The Routes Bleues are mapped maritime routes designed for small craft, especially sea kayaks, and have regular access to put-ins, shelters, campsites, tourist/scenic sites, and hotels. The Route Bleue Grand Montréal section (RBGM) is a series of 19 routes totalling 200 km around the island of Montreal and the south shore of the St. Lawrence, with 86 RGBM access sites along the way. This is entirely a do-it-yourself concept; the way to gain access to the RBGM (and the whole Sentier for that matter) is through free online guidebooks. These include, in addition to the maps, tips for eco-friendly tripping, suggested itineraries, the rules of maritime navigation and planning pointers such as what to pack, VHF channels for up-to-date weather reports, and putting together a comprehensive trip plan. The RBGM guide can be downloaded as a free PDF. It is only en français, but the maps are quite readable even if you are Franco-challenged. Activity: Kayaking Level: Beginner to advanced Season: Any Getting there: It depends which section you want to paddle. Regardless, it will be less than 90 minutes from downtown Montreal. Cost: Free, unless you stay in a hotel or commercial campground Gear: Kayak, paddle, life jacket Other activities: Camping, birding For more:




© Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation


If your idea of a good time is loading up your pack and spending a day out in the woods, this Bruce Trail gem is well worth the effort. The Hockley Heights loop is a combination of Bruce main and side trails that will challenge even well-conditioned hikers. It covers approximately 23 km with 800 m of elevation gain, so be prepared for lung-busting climbs that will reward you with stunning vistas of the surrounding hills and valleys. To complete the loop in a clockwise direction, start on Hockley Road (about 200 m east of the parking lot) and follow the main Bruce Trail, marked with white blazes. After about six km the trail will come out to Dunby Road, where you’ll turn right. Make a left on 3rd Line and then take the following right to begin the Hockley Heights side trail (or you’ll end up in Tobermory!). The side trail will continue on the road for a while before entering the forest again – just keep your eyes out for the blue blazes. If you hit Hockley Road and you’ve had enough, a right-hand turn will take you back to your car. Otherwise, cross the road to continue. The second half of the loop, all on the Hockley Heights side trail, features more calf-burning climbs as you traverse through forests and the Hockley Valley resort property. When the trail hits the

2nd Line, it will turn right, where you’ll meet back up with Hockley Road and the parking lot. Motivated hikers can complete this route in four or five hours, but those interested in a more casual day should allow up to seven or eight. Restore the calories you torched just down the road at the Black Birch Restaurant, where the beer-battered fish and chips is not to be missed! Activity: Hiking Level: Intermediate to advanced Season: Spring to fall Getting there: There’s a Bruce Trail parking lot on Hockley Road (County Road 7) between 2nd and 3rd Line. Cost: Free Gear: Water and food for full loop (there are no opportunities to fill up), hiking shoes, rain gear (in case the weather changes), bug spray, sunscreen. Other activities: Photography, trail running For more: PDFs of the route (map 18), the entire Bruce Trail and other details can be found at A map is highly recommended for this hike. FALL 2012 13


Welcome to the

People’s Park

© Rouge Park

Seven million Canadians live within an hour’s drive of what will soon be Canada’s first National Urban Park. Nestled in the GTA, it’s a milestone addition – but the journey has been a long one. By Stephania Varalli

It’s 5:00 p.m. and I’m standing with the commuters in Union Station, waiting for the GO Train to arrive. Surrounded by suits and ties, sensible heels and laptop cases, I look more than a little odd in my training getup, weighed down by a pack stuffed with food, a headlamp, a warm layer of clothes and a portable raft. As the horde stuffs itself onto the train, I try not to hit anyone with my kayak paddle. It’s only 33 minutes to the Rouge Hill stop, and from there a short walk to where my friends and I will be starting a 14 fall 2012

night of paddling and hiking. It’s my second visit to Rouge Park, and I’m still amazed that this escape to nature – real, abundant nature – is so easily reached from Toronto’s downtown core. I can’t help but think: How come I’m the only one on this train with a paddle? I’m not alone in thinking that more Canadians should be enjoying the Rouge Valley. Fulfilling a promise made in last year’s Throne Speech, on May 25, the federal government announced a commitment of $143.7 million in funding over 10 years to turn the Rouge into Canada’s first National Urban Park. A land transfer agreement is in the works

to add 5,000 acres to the current 10,000, which would create a continuous tract from Lake Ontario right up to the Oak Ridges Moraine. It’s home to a rare Carolinian forest, a number of endangered species, diverse plant life and geological formations, and historical sites that date back to aboriginal settlements. There’s infrastructure within the boundary – roads, sewers, buildings, working farms – which is why it’s designated as an “urban” rather than a “wilderness” park, though it’s fair to say the classification is also warranted by its location. It’s less than 100 kilometres from 20 percent of our nation’s population, and accessible

© Rouge Park

Thousands of volunteers have contributed to improving the park experience as well as worked on programs encouraging more visitors to come out. Aryne Sheppard, Senior Public Engagement Specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation, sees awareness of the Rouge as the next big need, now that the National Park designation has been won. The inaugural Camp Suzuki, a community leadership program sponsored by North Face, was focused on this attendance goal. Groups made up of local advocates, all passionate about nature and conservation, were empowered with the tools, mentors and skills needed for community organizing. It began with a training weekend in January. “Each of the 11 teams was tasked with creating a project in the months that followed that got people out into the park. Collectively our goal was 1,000 people, and we wanted them to engage diverse members of the community – different ages as well as cultural backgrounds – and to help the community understand the connection between health and nature. Every team was able to plan and implement a unique

project that fit themselves, their own skills and interests, as well as their community’s needs.” The diversity of the groups – with participants ranging in age from 15 to 82, and from all across the GTA – ensured a broad variety of projects. “We wanted people who came with different interests and motivations,” Sheppard explains. It was a successful strategy, with groups creating, funding and implementing programs such as Camp En Rouge!, a summer camping excursion for Markham youth, Cach’n in the Rouge, a geocaching day, and Eco Youth Forum, an environmental event bringing together a range of York Region’s high school students, environmental organizations, green businesses and municipality departments, and attended by federal Environment Minister Peter Kent. And the list goes on, from tree planting to nature hikes to on-site yoga. The program is a testament to what a small group of people can do. As Aryne points out, “When people are passionate about something, and you give them the tools, they are going to do amazing things.” Like give Canada its first National Urban Park.

MAKE IT YOUR PARK Eager to l earn more? Better yet, ready to visit Rouge Park? You’ll find all the info you need here: The current Rouge Park site is still up and running during the transition period, and is a helpful resource for planning your visit. There’s information on camping in the park, nature spotting, points of interest, hiking trails, special events and regularly scheduled guided walks. You can also find driving directions and public transportation tips. The Parks Canada website is the place to find information on the future Rouge National Urban Park, including a map of the new proposed boundaries, progress updates and details of community involvement. You can also provide your own input online to help shape the priorities of the park, as well as sign up for a newsletter to remain up to date on the process.

© Rouge Park

by a variety of public transport options. What’s missing now – and where about half the investment will be directed – are visitors’ centres, parking facilities and a much broader and more accessible network of trail systems. Parks Canada is also committed to working with provincial, municipal, aboriginal, youth and community partners, opening up the range of visitor experiences, and continuing to integrate and promote sustainable agriculture within the park boundaries. The goal is to be up and running by April 2013. If that seems like a long way off, then consider how long the road has been to get to National Park status. The journey began in 1975, when a group of 17 citizens formed Save the Rouge Valley System (SRVS) to combat urban sprawl on the northeastern edge of Toronto. Their big win didn’t come until 1990, when they managed to get the provincial and federal government on board with $10 million each to create the original Rouge Park. Other concerned citizen groups, like Friends of the Rouge Watershed, contributed to the park’s strategic development plan and organized community tree plantings and awareness events. In 1995, Rouge Park became official, and a Board of Directors was set up by the province that would become the Rouge Park Alliance. A review was completed two years later that recommended a more permanent governance structure, including the suggestion that a national park would be the best way to operate the park. “That report sat on the shelf from 1997 until I became Chair in 2008,” says Allan Wells, the last acting Chair of the Rouge Park Alliance. “I realized we had a weak governance arrangement, with 12 different partners, seven municipalities, the province, the federal government, the conservation authority, the zoo, the waterfront regeneration trust – none were committed to a fixed formula of funding.” While the park had steadily grown since its inception, and volunteers and staff had worked tirelessly on everything from restoration to outreach programs, the funding and management model wasn’t going to work as a long-term strategy, and it kept Rouge Park from meeting its full potential. An example Wells brings up is the trail system. “One of our goals is to have a continuous trail right from the lake to the [Oak Ridges] moraine, and to do that we have to cross the river several times, and duck under some hydro lines, and railway lines, and those issues of infrastructure are far beyond our current means. To put a bridge above the floodway plain, it’s half a million dollars a bridge, and we’ll need four to six to connect through.” It was the sort of infrastructure plan that Parks Canada would be capable of, however, and everybody knew it. “We decided to review our governance structure again, and we had a committee that started in 2009 and concluded in 2010 with all the parties agreeing to request the federal government to designate Rouge Park as a National Park. Our plans fit with what they were trying to explore – they were looking at ways to get better exposure in the more urban areas of Canada, as attendance was falling in many of their wilderness parks.” On July 31, the Rouge Park Alliance was dissolved, and the park entered a transitional phase. Operations will carry on as usual while the final agreement to transfer the lands is developed and the park plan completed. “It will be an Act of Parliament that creates the Rouge National Urban Park,” Wells points out, speaking about the official creation next spring, “so there’s no question about the permanency of the park either.” Parks Canada has been working with current stakeholders as well as the public to create a long-term vision for Rouge Valley. The goal is to make it “the people’s park” – fitting not only because of the role ordinary citizens played in its history, but also their involvement in the park’s future.

WEEKEND GETAWAY + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +


He’s an expert mountain biker, she’s a newbie. The goal? To develop a shared love of the sport – while staying in love with each other. TEXT AND PHOTO BY PATRICE HALLEY

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The ad contained enough promises for me to buy the mountain biking weekend package right away. It wasn’t for me, but rather a gift for my girlfriend. When we had met she had expressed an interest in getting into new sports “in order to spend more time with you.” I was flattered, but also worried that mountain biking could test her resolve and strain our relationship. To avoid dealing with the frustrations of becoming her teacher and the unavoidable impact on our coupledom, I decided that entrusting the task

16 FALL 2012

to a third person would be a smart move. Hopefully she’d love it, and wouldn’t hate me by the end of the weekend. And if she didn’t like riding, at least her grief against me would be minimal. According to a survey done in Canada for the IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association), women are incrementally getting into mountain biking. About 44 percent of them are invited to ride first with a friend, but just over 46 percent also admit that their partner is a mountain biker. “While only 12 percent of IMBA’s current members are female, women are actually the fastest-growing segment of our clientele,” says Mike Bricic, owner of Sacred Rides, a Toronto-based company offering

award-winning mountain biking journeys and camps. So, on a Friday afternoon, as excited as students on a spring break road trip, we packed our car and drove to Hardwood Ski and Bike, a trail centre near Barrie, Ontario. There we met with our super-keen instructors, Jayson and Heather. Not only had they managed to stay together as a couple, they were even teaching their favourite summer sport as a team! To my surprise, the group was composed of an equal number of men and women. Before heading out to the woods, we started in the early morning with some easy exercises in an open area. Heather, our head instructor as well as

a senior elite cross-country racer and yoga teacher, explained some fundamentals about bike handling. She covered brakes, pedals, position – and then it was time to ride around some logs spread out on the ground. “Easy obstacles,” I thought, but they were instead meant to define a physical space. Jason and Heather circled the gang between the wood pieces, encouraging people to keep moving. “Use slow pedalling moves and your brakes, find your balance, feel your bike,” she said, while slowly restricting the circle. If any of the bikers touched the ground with a foot, they had to walk away. Astride her rental bike, my girlfriend was smiling. “I like this a lot,” she remarked. What a relief!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Hardwood is only one hour away from Toronto, but once you enter the forest, you think you are a thousand miles away from the city. With nearly 80 kilometres of well-hidden, well-maintained trails, the location is sheltered by primary-growth forest. This is where Jason taught the group how to read the ground. “Always go for the easiest path, where your wheels will find the least resistance, and always look ahead two to three bikes in distance,” he explained to his gang, all attentive but anxious to go. I’ve learned all these tips on my own, and now that I am a seasoned mountain biker, they sound so simple. But I realize that what may seem obvious to me is probably something I would forget to teach.

For newer riders, who are not fully comfortable on a bike, it makes a huge difference. The day goes on and the group explores single-track riding. On more technical sections, Heather and Jay stop to explain the dos and don’ts, and riders are warmly encouraged to test themselves while receiving pointers. Everyone, including my sweetheart, starts to feel more comfortable. At the end of the day I realize that I have made a good investment when, off my bike, I can spot my gal still on hers, circling around to practise a couple of moves. The next day is more intense. The clinic covers obstacles, descending, climbing, cornering, gearing and hard breaking. We roll

0 other models in store


over larger obstacles, deal with rooty climbs, bridges, switchbacks, gearing and descending with speed. I see the girl I date roll over roots, climb stone piles and understand the importance of keeping momentum. All I can do is smile. Mission accomplished! We’ve come back from a two-day camp without too many bruises (except maybe a few to her ego). Thanks to Heather and Jason, we can now plan hours of pleasure on the trails together. The rest of the season is going to be a breeze. And I am convinced that I will connect with my soulmate while sharing the ecstatic feeling of “flow.”

THE GIRL’S POINT OF VIEW: I liked the clinic because I was able to learn a lot in the company of my boyfriend without relying solely on his skills but rather by trusting someone else. This broke up the student/ teacher pattern between him and me – a situation that can prove difficult for some couples. I also discovered that I really liked the sport, and at the end of the weekend I had firmly decided to acquire my own mountain bike. Although my boyfriend is a seasoned mountain biker and a good and patient instructor, he agrees that he is not a trained teacher. He was there to encourage me, noticed all my effort, and was happy and proud of my progress!

This was also a good opportunity to share his passion without stressing our relationship at all. I had fun and learned to ride while being part of a group, without any peer pressure. Being able to compare myself to others, I realized that I was not alone in experiencing apprehension and difficulties, allowing me to be more accepting of my own challenges. I was also experiencing the sheer joy of mountain biking, getting mentally stronger, and with my new technical skills I am ready to serenely explore the trails.

BOOK YOUR WEEKEND AT: TO RESERVE A RENTAL BIKE: WHAT TO EAT: Lunches are included, and one dinner is organized potluck-style with the group and instructors. WHERE TO STAY: Saturday-night accommodation is included. There are several B&Bs in the vicinity for additional nights. WHAT TO BRING: Your bike if you own one, a helmet and gloves, plus snacks to keep you going through the day. Hardwood also has a bike store if you need new gear. FALL 2012 17





© Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation


Nature is deeply rooted in our Canadian identity and history (Environment Canada even did a study to prove it, through a research series called Value of Nature). It offers us recreation, renewal and a sense of belonging. And thanks to an ongoing commitment to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) from Ontario and Quebec, you’ll find some fantastic parks in both provinces. Take some time to discover your roots at these three local parks, and connect to Canada’s diverse flora and fauna this fall.


QUETICO PROVINCIAL PARK is a pristine 1,180,000-acre wilderness park in northwestern Ontario on the southern edge of the Canadian Shield. It shares a southern border with Minnesota’s Superior National Forest, and the combined area is known collectively as the Boundary Waters. Quetico is a tangled network of freshwater lakes, with over 250 unnamed lakes and 292 named lakes – many with quirky titles such as This Man Lake and Poohbah Lake. In total there are 1,400 kilometres of canoe routes covering 612 portages.

Paddling these waters you’ll be tracing routes first travelled by First Nations tribes. Scattered throughout are 500-year-old pictographs on cliff rocks painted by natives standing in their canoes. The Anishnabe at Lac La Croix regard both the pictographs and sites as sacred. The forest here is endless – the park lies in a transition zone between the northern boreal forests, the Great Plains to the west and the mixed southern forests. The result is a tremendous diversity in scenery: cascading waterfalls, glassy lakes, river rapids, petite rocky islands jutting out of blue waters, craggy shorelines, dense forests,

huge expanses of northern sky and glimpses of moose, bear and other wildlife. Six hiking trails, accessed from the Dawson Trail campground, range from moderate to strenuous. The photogenic but steep French Falls 2.4-km trail follows the cascades of the French River, while the 10-km Pines Hiking Trail leads you to a sandy beach beside old-growth red and white pine. There are just over 2,146 unofficial, unimproved wilderness campsites spread throughout the park. Dawson Trail at French Lake also offers 107 drive-in camping sites


LOCATED IN THE HEART OF THE OTTAWA RIVER, the Parc national de Plaisance is an idyllic place to relax and watch nature. Water and wetlands dominate this SEPAQ sanctuary, with forest making up only 10 percent of the park’s 28.3-sq-km area. The marshes, bays and ponds are home to a diverse assortment of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and birds. Plaisance is one of Quebec’s best birdwatching locations: Over 250 species make their home here. Herons, ospreys, songbirds, ducks, swans, kestrels and turkey vultures are just a few of the species spotted.

© Parc national de Plaisance

Easy cycling, canoe and hiking trails make this a perfect family park. Rent a canoe and glide peacefully through the deep-cut bays, watching turtles and dragonflies. The larger eastern Presqu’Îles section is scattered along four fingers of small inlets and has the majority of trails, along with 132 campsites, a swimming pool and other amenities. The 17-km La Petite-Presqu’île Trail leads through the camping area to La Falaise lookout, while the nine-km La GrandePresqu’île Trail follows fields to the Les Étangs lookout. 18 FALL 2012

with amenities that include two yurts for rent. You’ll need a permit to either canoe or camp in the backcountry. This park is too wild and too huge for a spur-of-the-moment, last-minute getaway. A visit here requires planning, but it’s worth the effort. Quetico is one of the few places to experience pure Canadian wilderness. For more information, contact To make reservations for the park, contact

The western section of Thurso circles the Marais Perras bay, where the 20-km Des Outaouais Trail begins. This trail follows the shoreline back to Presqu’Îles. The four-km Baie-Noire is a shorter trail heading north into the heart of the Outaouais forests. A shuttle service carries visitors from one end of the park to another. You can also hop aboard the Weskarini pontoon boat and float over to either end. Take a cruise aboard the Weskarini up the Petite Nation River to the Plaisance Falls Mill or to watch the sunset on the Ottawa River. Kids will also enjoy the variety of activity programs, where they can get up close and personal with the park’s critters. The Discovery and Service Centre also holds arts and crafts sessions. For directions, reservations and other information, visit



ONTARIO’S CHARLESTON LAKE PROVINCIAL PARK is cradled between granite and sandstone bedrock. Its shape has been moulded by the slopes and valleys of old mountains eroded down over hundreds of million of years.

© Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation

Along the shores of this coldwater lake are caverns, cliffs and rock overhangs that once gave shelter to First Nations tribes who came to hunt in the summer. During the 1800s it was a popular resort area for wealthy vacationers who built Victorian cottages along its shores. Today, it’s the largest lake in the Frontenac Arch Biosphere equipped with hiking and paddling trails, swimming areas and campgrounds. There is a complexity of flora and fauna here not seen in other locations in the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands. Charleston Lake is the most southern extension of the Canadian Shield, combining a southern climate with a northern terrain. This unusual grouping allows northern species to happily co-exist alongside their more southern neighbours. In fact, so many species are intermixed here that Charleston Lake has a high proportion of species designated as rare, threatened or endangered. Keep an eye out for the endangered peregrine falcon, which has been successfully reintroduced in the park. The rugged look of the north blends with southern rolling valleys, creating a scenic 160 km of irregular shoreline with over 100 islands to explore (the park rents out both canoes and kayaks, if you don’t have your own boat to bring along). There are 239 campsites located in three campgrounds (86 with electricity) as well as 10 interior campsites accessible only by water and trails. There are several well-groomed sandy beaches for swimming and

plenty of hiking/biking trails. The 14-km Tallow Rock Bay loop on the west side is the longest trail, travelling into more remote areas. The pastoral 3.3-km Sandstone Island trail passes by ancient aboriginal cave dwellings and remains of pioneer homesteads. Quiddity (2.4 km) has a boardwalk traversing the wetlands leading to a scenic lookout – perfect for smaller hikers. The newest trail, Blue Mountain, takes between two to four hours to complete and leads to the

highest summit in the area for a 360-degree view of the surrounding county. The park is perfect for day trips, but you’ll need reservations for extended camping trips. For directions and more information, visit For camping reservations, contact english/char.html.

Keep an Eye on the Weather!

Play safe and enjoy outdoor activities Protect yourself from severe weather by keeping abreast of the latest weather reports and warnings issued by Environment Canada, any time, anywhere.

Mobile Weather Website: Weather Website – weather forecasts and warnings, 24/7, and RSS service available: Weather One-on-One – weather consultation service with an expert, seven days a week, charges apply: 1-900-565-5555 Weatheradio Canada: continuous weather reports on seven VHF frequencies at 162 MHz. Signal can be picked up by Weatheradio receivers, available at several retailers in Canada.

© Kristian Sekulic



Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula offers a setting reminiscent of a Group of Seven landscape painting. So it’s no surprise urbanites are willing to make the three-hour trip northwest from the GTA to the peninsula’s two national parks. Some sail the blue waters around Georgian Bay, others hit the mountain bike trails. We think there’s time for both.

R&R Set on six acres overlooking Colpoys Bay lies the cozy three-bedroom Island View B&B ($125 double occupancy • 800-797-4380 • It’s located atop the Niagara Escarpment right next to the Bruce Trail, minutes away from a boat dock, and the amenities are geared for action types. Bike rentals are $20, and for post-adventure, a hot tub is available as well as a registered massage therapist. Spectacular sunsets are guaranteed. Twenty minutes north of Lion’s Head along the shores of Lake Huron is Acres on the Lake (from $165 double occupancy • 519-793-4601 •, a new threebedroom B&B situated on 23 private acres. Hosts Donna and Morgan are ready to welcome their adventure-seeking guests to a little slice of heaven. Nature trails are on property, and nighttime is blissful with the region’s dark-sky preserve.

EAT Known for its quick, friendly service, The Lion’s Head Inn and Pub (519-793-4601 • is a traditional English pub that serves a mean Georgian Bay seasonal whitefish alongside other pub grub. Saturday nights feature the Prime Rib special with Yorkshire pudding, potatoes and vegetables just like Grandma would have served (eight-ounce prime rib, $19). Views can’t get any nicer than at the Coal Shed Willie Restaurant (519-534-2727 • overlooking Colpoys Bay in Bluewater Park. Another big draw: the Wiarton Willie statue. Regulars make a pilgrimage for the fantastic service and diner fare, like their fish and chips specialty known as Out of Willie’s Fish Pond ($11.50 for two pieces of cod plus fries).

20 FALL 2012

© Dan Barnes

Fall is the time leaves turn glorious gold and red, the temperature cools slightly and kids go back to school. With smaller crowds and refreshing temperatures, it’s a wonderful time to head out for some R&R, either alone or with a cherished partner. These easy-to-get-to destinations will calm your mind, energize your body and let your spirit soar. PLAY


MOUNTAIN BIKING: Wiarton Willie’s home turf rattles mountain bikers at Mountain Bike Adventure Park (a.k.a. the Albermarle Tract). Built in the heart of the escarpment, there are 30 technical features along the 20-km trail system, like skinnies, rock drops, teeter-totters and suspension bridges. We dig the rocky outcrops and steep inclines along the challenging 2.8-km single-track Big Bear Trail, deemed difficult by the park. Beginners will enjoy the gentler Pump Track Trail, a continuous packed-dirt loop with rollers and berms so you don’t even have to pedal (Mountain Bike Adventure Park • 1-800-268-3838 •

In the sleepy hamlet of Munster (30 minutes south of the NCG), homemade food is king at Danby’s Bar & Grill (613-838-2521 • Go for some hot’n’soul spicy fajitas ($18.99) or the Italian-sausage penne ($17.99). The men’s dart leagues and karaoke nights on weekends are all part of the fun at this award-winning eatery. In Bourget, the family-owned and operated Bourget Inn and Spa has an on-site resto available for resort guests only that makes it easy to stay in, dine and relax. All ingredients are handpicked in keeping with the spa philosophy (dinner and breakfast charges are included in overnight packages).

SAILING: From the 130-slip Lion’s Head Marina ($1.70/foot per night • 519-793-4060), it’s due east for views of the spectacular Lion’s Head. Locals share a lighthearted rivalry as to which of two rock faces carries the mighty name. Sail 30 km north toward Wingfield Basin and pass some of the prettiest coastline, with white bluffs and smoky heads. Westerly prevailing winds alongside the escarpment mean smooth sailing all the way.




The most ecologically diverse region in Eastern Ontario, the National Capital Greenbelt (NCG) has over 150 km of hiking and cycling trails – virtually on Ottawa’s doorstep. Protected from urban sprawl since the 1950s, it whips through wetlands, by rocky outcroppings and past sustainable farming communities spanning 20,000 hectares.

R&R Just 25 minutes east of Ottawa lies the nine-room Bourget Inn and Spa Resort (from $169 weekends, double occupancy • 1-866-487-3277 •, perfect as a couples getaway and for weekends where you want to unwind after biking and hiking the Greenbelt. Hunker down with a favourite read in the library or sip on some java in the solarium. You can’t go wrong with the over 40 spa treatments, either (60-minute massage, $90). In Ashton, 20 minutes west of Kanata, Thistle Springs Trout Farm and Campsite ($20–$35 per night • 613-838-5695 • has 125 charming and roomy campsites and 20 trout-fishing ponds nestled by birch and cedar trees.

HIKING: Start in the early morning on the 20 km of trails around Mer Bleue (613-239-5000 • places-to-visit/greenbelt) to see where it got its name. Hint: a ghostly fog blankets the 7,700-year-old bog, creating a blue-sea effect. The area’s ecosystem also has been compared more to the Arctic than the Ottawa Valley for its northern boreal landscape. Still, watch for raccoons, fox and deer that like to hang between the black spruce groves. Dirt trails are mixed in with a boardwalk; for an easy start, try the short 1.2-km self-guided multi-terrain trail. CYCLING: On the western part of the Greenbelt Pathway is 10.4 km of mostly flat terrain that starts in Shirley’s Bay, home to a mega migratory area (over 270 bird species recorded over the years). Highlights are Watts Creek, old railway bridge underpasses and the Nepean National Equestrian Park, a great place to view horses grazing. Or head toward the Old Quarry Trail, located around the most ecologically diverse protected area in the Ottawa Valley – Stony Swamp – which boasts 40 km of trails to explore. The 2.7-km Old Quarry Trail loop connects with other trails and becomes more intermediate and advanced the deeper you go. FALL FUN: Head to Saunders Farm ( in Munster for pumpkin picking. The place is home to a huge pumpkin patch and an incredibly vast maze guaranteed to get you lost – not to mention a haunted house created from an old barn!






Muskoka has earned its fame and success. The deep blue lakes, winding roads and rolling hills are complemented by small towns that specialize in making visitors comfortable, and it remains one of the best places to enjoy the fall colours. For an iconic autumn bike trip with a touch of luxury, look no further than the Tour de Muskoka.

R&R Biking into Gravenhurst, look for the Victorian-era house topped with a bicycle-shaped weather vane. You’ve arrived at Blaincroft Bed and Breakfast ($130 per night with breakfast • 705-684-8994 •, a charming restored home steps away from downtown. Hosts Marsha and Bryan are avid cyclists and are happy to swap biking tales and advice, but if you’re feeling weary you might prefer to lounge in the Jacuzzi or relax in the garden. Not far away, The Inn on Bay ($129–$159 per night with breakfast • 1-800-493-0235 • is another attractive restored heritage home, this one built in the 1920s by a railway baron. The current hosts, Jen and Tyler, learned to mountain-bike in Muskoka, having moved here from Alberta four years ago. Try to reserve the Elm View Suite, complete with fireplace and antique claw-foot bathtub.

EAT While cycling, listen for the famous whistle of the RMS Segwun (1-866-687-6667 •, the coal-fired steamship that has been sailing Lake Muskoka for 125 years. The ship began its career carrying mail and cargo to Muskoka’s pioneers, but it soon became obsolete with the rise of the automobile. In 1974, the old steamer was restored, and has regained its place as Muskoka’s most beloved icon. There are lunch, sightseeing and even themed sailings, but the most memorable trip – and most satisfying after a day of biking – is the three-course, sunset dinner cruise ($85). If you’re feeling thirsty on the roads, stop by the Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge (705-646-1266 • The tasting bar is comfortable, the staff are friendly and the locally brewed beers are refreshing. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to try the fall seasonal favourite, the Harvest Ale (sampling: free).


Lac Memphrémagog (mem-fray-ma-gog) is one of the jewels of Quebec’s Eastern Townships. This 44-km freshwater glacial lake extends south into Vermont and north up to the town of Magog. There are 17 municipalities, spread out over four regions, to explore – and fall is the perfect time to do it.

R&R For a romantic weekend of pampering, check into the Estrimont Suites & Spa (starting at $90 per person, but check for specials • 819-843-1616 •, where you can enjoy healing massages and relax in the hydrotherapy centre. Luxurious rooms looking out onto Mount Orford are equipped with fireplaces and patios. La Maison de Ville ($137 for double occupancy with discounts for multi-night stays • 819-868-2417 • is a beautiful example of how Victorian Houses have been transformed into charming guesthouses. This elegant B&B, one block from Magog’s main street, has four country-chic rooms with private baths. It has become well known for its gourmet breakfasts (included in the fee) as well as the superb dinners ($25 per person). To experience complete tranquility in a serene setting, consider staying with the Benedictine monks at the Saint-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey. This religious community is famous for their cheeses and ciders (which they sell in their on-site shop) as well as for their services sung in Gregorian chants. The monks offer modest room and board for men and women ($60 per night • 819-843-4080 •

EAT The quaint bistro Les Péchés de Pinocchio (819-868-8808 • in downtown Magog offers an innovative menu with daily specials. Pick up a delicious gourmet lunch box for $10.95. Dinner specialties include grilled salmon ($28) or duck breast in a red-wine sauce ($32). Fondissimo/La Shop Café-Bar (819-843-8999 • is a textile factory turned restaurant with a great ambience. Grab a tasty, healthy breakfast or lunch for under $10 at La Shop Café-Bar or enjoy a fondue next door at Fondissimo. Cheese lovers should try the St-Benoît fondue ($25) using the famous cheese made by the monks. For the best view in the area while dining, have lunch on the lakeside terrace at Auberge Restaurant McGowan (819-843-2126 or 1-877-843-2126 • in Georgeville. The burgers and pizza are good – but they’re eclipsed by the scenery.

PLAY CYCLING: The surprisingly easy 49-km Magog-Orford trail is part of the L’Estriade Route Verte ( bike path that reaches the opposite side of the mountain into Parc National du Mont-Orford. Get ready for a steady climb with incredible views. The 19-km Ayers Cliff-Tomifobia Rail Trail (tomifobianaturetrail. com) is a pleasant loop running from the east side of the lake to the Vermont border. Off limits to motorized vehicles, this bicycle and hiking trail meanders alongside the Tomifobia River through pristine countryside and scenic fields. Bring water and food since there are no services along this route. HIKING: Just outside of Magog you can hike the six-km Marais de la Rivière aux Cerises (, which combines forest trails and footbridges through the marshes. It’s a great spot to enjoy fall colours and fit in some birdwatching.


PLAY A clockwise bike tour around Lake Muskoka is 90 km long and can be completed in a leisurely two days. DAY 1: Park in Port Carling, the “Hub of the Lakes.” Do some warm-up stretching while watching boats navigate the locks connecting Lake Rosseau and Lake Muskoka. Cycle east on Muskoka Road 118, arriving at Crystal Beach to admire the extralarge Muskoka Chair. Pass through the covered bridge on Balls Drive as you enter Bracebridge for lunch (and beer sampling). If there’s time, try climbing up into the trees and riding a 100-metre zipline at Eaglecrest Aerial Park (750-640-4040 • Follow Muskoka Beach Road for 18 km to arrive in Gravenhurst for the night. DAY 2: If your bike needs some maintenance after a long day on the roads, first stop by the aptly named Bike Shop in Gravenhurst (705-687-7433 • The tour continues west out of Gravenhurst on Muskoka Road 169. Park your bikes at Hardy Lake and hike to the shore for exquisite views of the lake. Bala makes a good stop for lunch. Finally, follow the curving Muskoka Road 26 back to Port Carling, and take a rest before your next lap.

Shed new light on your environment at the Biosphere, Environment Museum Métro Jean-Drapeau


I flew out of Delhi heading up to northern India, just over an hour away by air. The lush wilderness, rushing rivers and mountainous terrain were clearly visible from my window seat.


Danger Zone or Dream Vacation?

© Predrag Vuckovic

By Bryen Dunn

22 fall 2012

I was about to be welcomed to the state of Jammu and Kashmir – a region with a recent history of warfare and turmoil with neighbouring Pakistan over control of the lands. I was attending an outdoor adventure travel and tourism conference in the capital city of Srinigar, and had made plans to hang around a few days afterwards to take in some of the area by bike and foot. Srinigar is a bustling city of around 2 million people, a relatively small size in comparison to many other Indian cities. Its location at an elevation of approximately 560 metres provides for a fairly moderate temperature throughout the year. I booked into one of the many famous houseboats located on the mystical Dal Lake. It’s reminiscent of a more natural Venice, with the boats scattered around the lake and a network of canals used to access the various family residences and tourist lodgings. A paddled “shikara” brings each guest to their designated lodging facilities, pushing aside water lilies, lotus flowers and other plant life that basically constitutes a mixture of matted vegetation and earth. These floating gardens, called “rad” in the Kashmiri language, are a special feature of the lake. Each houseboat has a designated shikara that transports you anywhere you want, picking up passengers here and there along the way. The houseboat owners are all very proud of their quarters, and do their best to offer something unique to their guests. Ranging from modest to extravagant in terms of decor, the basic layout is similar, with a few sleeping cabins, a reading and television room, and a combination dining room and kitchen. The other thing each has in common: There are many family stories waiting to be shared. The Constitution of India does not allow people from regions other than Jammu and Kashmir to purchase land in the state. As a consequence, houseboats became popular among those who were unable to purchase land in the valley, and they have now become an integral part of the Kashmiri lifestyle. Each is embellished with years of family heirlooms and memories, the furniture meticulously handcrafted and the dishware and carpets locally designed. I arrived in the evening, so I decided to go for a short stroll and grab a quick snack back on the mainland before settling in for the night. The darkness fell quickly on the basin area, now aglow with the individual light bulbs at the homes and shops of the locals. Music pulsated and the aroma of Kashmiri cuisine drew me in to find some dinner. Typical dishes are heavy on meats and spices, but I chose a vegetable medley over rice and a locally prepared juice beverage. At the meal’s end, I set out on my shikara back into the stillness of the lake, with only the soothing sounds of paddling surrounding me. While out on the deck enjoying my morning kawa – a traditional green tea prepared with saffron, almond slivers and various spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, sugar and chai leaves – I watched as a floating marketplace went back and forth. It was offering pretty much anything one would need, from fresh fruits and vegetables to household products and pharmaceuticals. As much as I was enjoying this relaxed atmosphere, I was anxious to

Baffin Adventura one third pg ad 082812_Ad 28/08/12 2:52 PM Pa

begin my further discovery of the area. I considered renting one of the many small pleasure boats or try some water skiing, but I opted to rent a bike and explore some of the environs on two wheels instead. While many of the roads are somewhat paved, there are just as many lined with potholes. The main thoroughfares are a bit difficult to manoeuvre at first, but I quickly learned to not pay attention to what was behind me. Once outside the boundaries of the city core, the secondary roads around the shorelines of Dal and Nagin were relatively easy to navigate. Nagin Lake, though sometimes referred to as a separate lake, is actually part of Dal Lake, linked through a causeway which permits only cyclists and walkers to enter the lake precincts. I was able to cycle the entire 15-km circumference in just around three leisurely hours. The roads were basically two lanes and used mostly by the residents scattered throughout the valley. Many of the locals offered to take me around town, or to go with them to see their boats – and I eventually relented. I was escorted through the old part of the city, visiting a couple of the majestic temples that reach upward into the sky. I was able to chat with a few students who were there to do their afternoon prayers, and they were as inquisitive of my life as I was of theirs. There are also a couple of grand palaces that I took the opportunity to visit. The Sher Garhi houses administrative buildings of the state government, and the Gulab Bhavan has now become the Lalit Grand Palace Hotel. I also stopped at one of the family-owned carpet-making factories to learn about the intricacies involved in creating one of these masterpieces. At night, I went to visit a few different houseboats that I had been invited to, with their owners each offering me a fresh cup of kawa, a tour around their environs and more family stories and photo albums. I then went to bed for a good night’s sleep, preparing myself to head off to the mountains in the morning for some trekking. Two of the more touristic towns in the area are Gulmag and Pahalgam, each in different directions but only connected via Srinigar, meaning a complete backtrack if you want to visit both of them. First things first, I had to meet my local guide Tejbir, who would be with me the entire time in the mountains. Tejbir is an

In India, you should triple the travel time for any distance. While Gulmarg is just 50 km from Srinigar, the drive took more than three hours! experienced outdoorsman, having lived most of his adult life either trekking around India for his own personal interest or as part of his responsibilities with his adventure travel business. He and I would spend the next couple of days together discovering some of the expansive trails in the region. Trails I would later discover were also used by bordering Pakistan’s military regime in the not-so-distant past. In India, the one point to remember is that you should approximately triple the travel time for any distance you are covering compared to the equivalent distance in North America. While Gulmarg is just over 50 km from Srinigar, the drive in took a little more than three hours, due in part to navigating the winding mountain roads. This town is best known as a ski resort, laying claim to having the highest cable car gondola ski lift in the world. This Himalayan resort offers some five km of the best off-piste, deep-powder, long-run skiing and snowboarding during the winter months, and great hiking opportunities during the summer and fall.

With the highest elevation being 3,950 m, this is true alpine trekking that can be experienced by everyone, from novice day hikers to overnight, high-altitude experienced trekkers. While we both fell into the day-hike category this time, Tejbir told me all about his overnight excursions, including the one time he was lost for a couple of days in the mountains with a friend of his. We caught the gondola up to the top of Kongdoori Mountain, where the views were simply stunning. From here we ventured along the rocky mountainous terrain, past various species of goats and other wildlife scattered along the Apharwat peaks heading toward Alpather Lake. While there are no official trail markings, the natural progression of the trails made them quite easy to navigate. As well, hiking above the tree line helped us maintain a clearer sense of direction. Other popular trekking trails in the area are the Khilanmarg and Alpather routes, which are classified as moderate to difficult. The town of Gulmarg itself doesn’t have any permanent residents, as it is populated only by tourism members or visitors. However, there is a large population of nomadic gypsies that traverse the mountains herding sheep. On our hike we passed a few individuals making their way back up to their overnight camp with provisions they had bartered for back in town. We were asked to share a pot of black tea with the family, before pressing on and winding our way back toward Gulmarg. The weather was relatively mild during my visit in the month of September, but I couldn’t help but wonder what these natives did when winter arrived. The next day we woke early to make our way toward Pahalgam, a hill station town at an altitude of 2,130 m. Positioned along the mighty Liddar River, it’s popular for whitewater rafting in the summer months. It is also widely known as a health resort area, offering all sorts of natural healing and remedies, as well as the starting point for several hiking trails. The easiest and most popular of these is the short three-km jaunt to Baisaran, surrounded by pristine waters and meadows (and that’s not all – it should be noted that wild bears still roam much of the area, as well as monkeys). We did this as our morning warm-up, before beginning our trek to the resort village of Aru, 11 km away. After lunch we made our way back, but Tejbir pointed out that it’s possible to continue onward another 36 km to the Kolohoi Glaciers, at an altitude of 3,400 m. And that’s just one of the many options we didn’t have time for. There are also treks to Tarsar Lake, Chandiwari, Leh and Tuliam in the area, plus the Amarnath cave is located nearby. Kashmir is still a disputed territory bordered and administered by India, Pakistan and China. Before insurgency intensified in 1989, tourism formed an important part of the Kashmiri economy, and today it is starting to return. While I was there, Germany announced they were lifting the travel ban for its citizens, making them the first country in years to have done so. Departing out of Srinigar I was put through the most arduous and detailed security checks I have ever encountered, which – as with any security checks – always makes me wonder if I feel safer because of the thoroughness or less safe because of the inherent possibility of danger. And yet, in the air and reflecting on my overall experience, I knew I would have no hesitation to return and explore further. It is one of those magical places that many people hear about but are reluctant to visit. Here’s hoping more will take the opportunity to discover the wonders of Kashmir.



Baffin developed the Outdoor Rebel series not as a climbing boot but as a series of classically rugged boots that perform on all sorts of rough terrain; from rugged mountain scrambles to extended Himalayan treks. These boots are made of tough full grain Timberwolf leathers and are insulated to -30 °C. However don't be fooled, these versatile boots, with their breathable waterproof uppers remain comfortable during all your fall and spring adventures as well!

INTERESTED IN GOING TO KASHMIR? YOU’LL FIND THESE LINKS HELPFUL: Visitor information:,,, Holiday Moods Adventures: Air India:

Paul Hubner, Owner and CTO



With every sport there’s a shopping list, and along with it the inevitable question: How much should you be spending on gear? The answer will probably be different depending on whether you’re a beginner testing the waters, or a veteran testing your limits. While some athletes want the latest technology or most expensive gadgets to meet their needs, others just want something affordable that they can depend on. We’ve picked some gems in a few sports at top-of-the-line as well as top-value prices, so get out your pens and start that shopping list.


HIGHER: Light & Motion Seca 1700 Race

Just because the days are getting shorter doesn’t mean your singletrack riding has to. The powerful LEDs on the redesigned Seca 1700 will light up the trail like you’ve got the sun strapped to your helmet (or handlebars – it comes with both mounting systems). At only 343 g, it can run at its highest setting of 1,700 lumens for 1.5 hours. $470 |


HIGHER: Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-Poles

If you like to take on trails at high speeds, these are the poles for you. Built with ultra-marathoners and fastpackers in mind, the Black Diamond Ultra Distance poles offer high performance along with good value. Thanks to 100-percent carbon-fibre shafts, they weigh in at just 260–275 g (depending on length), yet still deliver solid support. The three-section, Z-Pole design extends with a single pull and folds down with a push button, making it easy to use and ultra-packable. $136 |

LOWER: Leki Trail

Stability is the superpower of this high-strength aluminum set, so if you’re still a bit wobbly on difficult terrain, it can help keep you upright. Weighing in at 544 g, the length-adjustable Super Locking System can handle 140 kg per pole and still collapse down for easy packing. They aren’t the cheapest pair on the market, but they are an entry-level offering of a brand known for quality – well worth the extra cash. $85 |


HIGHER: The H2 Flow Jacket

Say hello to Hollow Heat Flow technology, helping save you from that sweaty back you thought it was impossible to avoid. What does a layer of Polartec 200 g fleece with strategically placed holes give you? Insulation when you want it – by trapping air in the negative spaces – and instant cooling when you need it, just by opening the zippered vents in front to let the air flow through. With its ripstop fabric shell it makes a great mid-layer piece, or you can wear it on its own as a light jacket. $200 |

LOWER: MEC Khamsin 2 Jacket

24 FALL 2012

There’s no fancy new technology here, but this low-loft fleece jacket will do the trick when you want a lightweight mid-layer with some breathability. Warm? Undo the full-length zip. Cold? Try the hand-warmer pockets. It also has an external coating that will help keep you protected from moisture and keep your jacket protected from abrasion. So rubbing up against your pack won’t turn it into a scruffy mess in a season. $89 |


HIGHER: Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 12 Set

If your idea of a quick trail run can be measured in hours, then this ultra-form-fitting hydration pack is for you, superstar. It’s built for endurance runners, and the stretch breathable mesh construction provides a secure, non-binding, abrasion-free fit. It holds 1.5 L to satisfy thirst, with plenty of clever pockets for safety gear and food. Plus, there are tons more bells and an actual safety whistle to justify the price tag. $200 |

LOWER: Nathan Trail Mix Belt


This is the belt that many “I don’t like belts” runners end up trying and liking. The double-adjustable elasticized belt buckles securely, and features a large zipped pocket, outer mesh mini-pockets, shock cords that can hold gloves or a jacket, and two 300-mL nutrition flasks. So there’s ample space for nutrition and gear, and since the bottles can be pulled out by one hand, it’s all easy-access. $55 |

Photo by C. Burkard © Wolverine World Wide, Inc., official footwear licensee for Patagonia, Inc.

LOWER: Cygo-Lite Turbo 740 Xtra

If you’re a mountain-biking beginner who wants to give night riding a go, this simple and durable LED lighting system should match your pace well. It offers a long three-hour run time at its highest setting, with enough power to brighten up not-so-technical trails. A great product – and price – to start your adventures in the dark. $198 |




Abandon your desk and come exploring! Patagonia, footwear for all occasions.

Available at

and other fine retailers



When it comes to keeping warm in the outdoors, the battle lines have been drawn: It’s either down or a synthetic insulator. With some help from Eric Clifford, product specialist with Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), we’ll take a look at both sides, laying out the pros and cons of each so you can make a decision that’s best for your needs.



WHAT IS IT? “Down is the fluffy layer that lies beneath the feathers on waterfowl,” Clifford explains. “You can get duck and goose down, [but] goose down tends to provide better insulation than duck.” Down also has a numbered rating system that refers to its quality and purity. The higher the number, the better the quality. Clifford says anything between 400–450 is basic, 500–575 is good and 600–750 is excellent.

WHAT IS IT? Synthetic insulators imitate the natural insulating power of down. There are a number of brand-name synthetics, including the high-end PrimaLoft brand, and MEC’s own Hyperloft. They “mirror the qualities of down, but are made from polyester threads,” Clifford says.

WHAT’S IT GOOD FOR? • Keeping you freakin’ warm! A synthetic may do the same, but pound for pound it doesn’t compare to down. “The fluff, or ‘loft,’ gives down its excellent insulation properties,” Clifford says. • It won’t take up all your space. Whether it’s a sleeping bag or a winter jacket, down will always be lighter and pack smaller than any alternative. • Long live down! When cared for correctly, “Down will last longer than its synthetic counterparts,” Clifford says. WHAT’S IT NOT GOOD FOR? • Wet weather. “Down doesn’t handle water well,” Clifford explains. “If it gets wet, it will lose almost all of its insulating properties and it takes a long time to dry. You need to dry it in a front-loading dryer, low and slow to help it regain its loft.” • Your wallet! Compared to synthetics, down is much more expensive. • Take special care, please! If you’re not used to bringing things to the dry cleaner, or reading care labels, then down may not be for you. To ensure its longevity, you must follow care instructions to a T.

WHAT’S IT GOOD FOR? • Your wallet! Synthetics are much more affordable than down. • Wet weather. “If synthetic insulation gets wet, it will maintain its warmth better and it can air-dry,” Clifford says. “So if you’re out on the trail and your synthetic bag gets wet, you can hang it up and it’ll dry out.” • Lower maintenance! You can wash it, dry it and generally treat it more “harshly” than down. WHAT’S IT NOT GOOD FOR? • Space. “It’s bigger, bulkier and heavier than its warmth equivalent in down,” Clifford says. “So, a -5oC synthetic bag will be bulkier and bigger than a -5oC down bag.” • A lifetime of use? Not quite. These insulators will not last nearly as long as down. • Not as warm. More insulator is needed to get the same warmth of a lighter down product – which leads to its greater weight.


You may have heard about DriDown, which Sierra Designs began using this spring. It addresses the major concerns of down, making it an ideal choice for those who want down but are worried about getting it wet. The down has been treated with Durable Water Repellent, which helps it handle water or wetness better. “DWR is like a Scotchgard,” Clifford says, “in that the water beads up on it and doesn’t permeate the down. So DriDown will maintain its insulation better under wet conditions.” It is expensive, but it stays dry seven times longer than regular down, and dries 33 percent faster.

26 FALL 2012


Made with good-quality down, but at a reasonable price point. Aquila is made for a typical man’s shape, while the Aquilina is geared toward women with extra insulation at the feet. From $150 |


Designed to be the “warmest jacket on the planet,” this goose down parka can handle -60oC weather and anything else you throw at it. If you venture into extremely cold areas, or just don’t want to feel an ounce of winter, this jacket will provide what you need. $1,190 |


New to the Vasque family: a line of insulated winter boots. The Snowburban uses 400 g of Thinsulate Ultra, keeping your feet warm and dry while you’re backpacking in the cold or shovelling the latest dumping of snow. $150 |


Flap Series 1_3 H – Aventura [EN] vFIN.pdf



5:04 PM

Using PrimaLoft insulation, this light jacket is the perfect companion when the weather might change on a dime. Elasticized quilt lines optimize fit and remove air pockets. And the treated shell, along with the PrimaLoft fill, means it can handle damp conditions. From $125 |








K FALL 2012 27


© Miroslav Georgijevic

SHORT Are shorter sessions at a higher intensity the key to reaching your fitness goals? BY STEPHANIA VARALLI 28 FALL 2012

SWEAT Let’s start by defining high intensity.

Can you keep on lifting that weight until you get bored? Not high intensity. Does your workout allow for a cellphone conversation? Nope, not even close. Are you training for a few hours? Well, that might be hard, but it’s probably not high intensity.

“Intensity refers to the amount of work that’s done in a specific period of time, or the amount of loading that’s applied to the body,” explains Marvin Mitchell, Head Coach at Blast Athletic in Toronto. “It means more than just breathing hard.”


workouts that took a quarter of the time. And Tabata’s 1996 study isn’t the only one to show the benefits of high-intensity training. Other researchers and fitness professionals have proven results, and there are numerous methods that work.

Blast Athletic Offering separate classes for novice, intermediate and advanced levels, programs include everything from strength and cardiovascular training to speed and agility work. The goal? Creating athletes who can do everything well. (647-346-7399 •

The increasingly popular CrossFit program is one of them. Aiming to create athletes with broad capabilities, the varied workouts include gymnastics, weight training and cardio. Jordan Symonds has been a trainer and strength coach for six years, and is currently the co-owner of Reebok CrossFit Liberty Village in Toronto. He explains that in CrossFit, “We give you a task to complete, we lay out some movement standards and technique for you to follow, and your goal is to complete the task in as little time as possible. What that means is you are working at your maximum power output until the task is complete. That is where the high intensity comes from.”

If you’re interested in adding some intensity to your workouts, here’s where you’ll find our experts.

Reebok CrossFit Liberty Village Beginners start with CrossFit Foundation Sessions to learn the necessary skills before joining in with the regularly scheduled group sessions, which include elements from weightlifting, gymnastics and high-intensity cardio. (647-343-7309 • To achieve high intensity, you need to be using a challenging amount of resistance – as in weights – or working at close to your maximum effort for a period of time. How do you know you’ve reached that level? If you can do the activity, whether it’s weights or cardio, for a long time, or without any suffering, you probably aren’t near your max. High intensity is not going to feel good. Leaving your comfort zone can have big rewards, however. Mitchell notes there are two key benefits to high-intensity training. “One is metabolic – training your body to use energy efficiently, and allowing yourself to keep going at

The result is an all-around fitter athlete. “We’re executing things at a high power output, and the benefit to doing that intensity is that it has the greatest carry-over effect into any other kind of training or sport that you choose to do. A high-intensity workout will carry over into a low-intensity workout, but not vice versa.” The weighty question When I asked Jordan to put in simple terms how this carry-over worked, he started with a question: “What can you squat?” “135.”

“You don’t need to put in hours and hours of training. If you condition your body efficiently through high-intensity training, you can mimic a lot of the same demands that you would normally get two hours into a race.” a high level for a longer period of time. Then there’s the strength and conditioning aspect: Just being stronger will reduce the amount of energy required to go the long haul.” Plus, training at a higher intensity means that workouts don’t need to last as long. If you don’t have a lot of free time (and even if you do), shorter and more intense is the most efficient way to develop your fitness. Proven protocol Here’s a simple, compelling example: the Tabata protocol. Named after the Japanese researcher who led a study examining the method, a Tabata consists of 20 seconds of super-high-intensity work – defined as 170 percent of VO2max, or feels-like-death pace – followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times. In the study, athletes warmed up for 10 minutes prior to the four-minute blast, which they did four times a week for six weeks, plus one steady-state, 30-minute workout on day five. Compared to athletes doing an hour of steady-state cycling five times per week, the high-intensity group had a similar increase in their VO2max and were the only ones to experience an increase in their anaerobic capacity – meaning they got more out of the

“Okay. Let’s take 135 as your max squat. Take 50 percent of that, about 70 pounds. I would estimate that you can squat that 15 to 20 times before you would have to put the bar down. Now if we got you stronger, able to handle a higher intensity of load so you can squat 155 pounds, how many times do you think you could squat that same 70 pounds?” The answer was obviously more. “So take that same stimulus, use high-intensity training to make yourself stronger, and it raises the percentages of all your lower-intensity capabilities. But if all you did was train at 70 pounds, I’d guarantee that your squat wouldn’t go from 135 to 155.” What if all you want to do is tone? Not everyone needs to get to their one-rep max on a squat, right? Contrary to what every ’80s workout video promised, your muscle anatomy responds best to a heavier weight, and it won’t result in developing size. There’s a difference between strength training and bodybuilding.

“Lifting light weights will not recruit a high enough percentage of your muscle fibres to tone your muscle effectively,” Mitchell explains. “Muscles are made up of bundles of fibres. The more bundles your body is forced to recruit, the more tension you’re going to have developed in that entire muscle. So if you want that toned, tight look, what’s going to be more effective with generating that: doing an exercise where you are recruiting 30 percent of those bundles, or one that recruits 80 to 100 percent? From a physiological context, the concept of lifting light weights for toning is kind of ridiculous.” Going the distance The programs at Blast Athletic are also varied, broad and intense – a formula that Mitchell has used to create jack-ofall-trades athletes out of time-crunched individuals. “I don’t believe that you need to put in hours and hours of training. If you condition your body efficiently through high-intensity training, you can mimic a lot of the same demands that you would normally get two hours into a race. Like lactic acid threshold demands – repetitive high-intensity training prepares your muscles to get rid of and reprocess lactic acid so it can be used to create new energy.” In basic terms, short bursts build a body for distance. Does that mean a marathoner can give up on long runs? Not exactly. “Endurance training for an endurance athlete is important,” Mitchell adds. “There are physical adaptations that your body goes through to enable you to process energy, break down fats and use oxygen more efficiently. One of the adaptations that you get from doing endurance work is greater capillarization. Essentially your network of blood vessels becomes more extensive with endurance training, and that’s your body’s way of transporting nutrients and oxygen. The more we do endurance work, the more pathways we have.” Endurance athletes should not only be doing endurance work, however. Mitchell also points out that a stronger muscle will be more efficient over a long period, as well as reduce your rate of injury. And if your fitness goals don’t include an event that lasts hours, there’s no reason your training needs to, either. Are you ready? “High intensity, as a concept, is not above anyone’s reach,” Mitchell believes. “It really depends on the application. Not everyone should be doing every exercise. Progression is key.” Symonds has a similar message for individuals interested in trying the CrossFit program: “Any level of athlete can do it, but if you’re new, it’s important that you have supervision and coaching. One, to make sure that the movements are scaled properly, and two, potentially the volume might have to be scaled too.” If you aren’t meeting your fitness goals, it might be time to incorporate some higher-intensity workouts into your regime. Just don’t make the mistake of treating them like a quick fix. “Nothing is going to change your body completely doing it a few times,” Symonds points out. “High-intensity training is the most effective way to get into shape quickly, but it needs to be a regular thing, an ongoing journey that’s combined with good nutrition and lifestyle habits.” fall 2012 29

Last call

30 fall 2012

British Columbia

The Wakefield Trail from Idaho Peak (2,282 metres) in British Columbia leads mountain bikers and hikers across exposed sections, with amazing views of nearby Slocan Lake, but the neat part of this trail is the unique cable-car crossing. The initial part of the trail can be intimidating, as it is narrow and traverses a steep sidehill, with a formidable slope beneath your wheels. Not the worst place to be with your camera while admiring the view! – Patrice Halley, photographer

© Patrice Halley

The Tools: Nikon D200, Nikkor 80–70mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 200, f/8, 1/250 second. fall 2012 31



The cushioned, This multi-tasking, multi-sport shoe won’t let you down. your spirits, boost upper suede & Nubuck and shock-absorbent heel ® while the treated anti-microbial lining and Vibram sole get a grip on earthly matters. So wherever you want to go, Merrell shoes and clothing will get you there. Find out how at

Proud sponsor of

© Wolverine World Wide, Inc., 2012. IRONMAN® and M-DOT® are registered trademarks of World Triathlon Corporation used herein by permission.


Adventura - Fall 2012  

Adventura - Fall 2012

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