Adventura / Spring 2014

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EXTREME IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD Paddle into Spring MOUNTAIN, JUNGLE, RIVER, MAGIC An Expedition Across Madagascar



GETTING KIDS INVOLVED IN TRIATHLON It might be the cure for the current epidemic of overweight, inactive kids

VOL. 6, NO.1

[ GEAR ]

Try a Tri Expedition Essentials | SPRING 2014 | free |

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HAVE BIKE, WILL TRAVEL Whether searching for pristine singletrack or that magical ribbon of asphalt, there are a few things you should know if you want to return home safe and sound.

14 LIVING LARGE 18 HAVE BIKE, WILL TRAVEL 20 PARKS: Paddle into Spring 22 GLOBETROTTER Mountain, Jungle, River, Magic: An Expedition Across Madagascar When you venture out on an expedition to cross the fourth-largest island in the world, where 90 percent of the plants and animals are found nowhere else on the planet, there’s only one thing you can expect: the unexpected. GEAR 24 Try a Tri 26 Expedition Essentials MIND & BODY 28 GETTING KIDS INVOLVED IN TRIATHLON Triathlons may be the cure for the current epidemic of overweight, inactive kids.

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I don’t really remember the

exact moment when I realized that I’m a difficulty junkie: The more arduous the adventure, the more I love it. For me, it’s all about that moment when you’re not sure what’s worse: charging on or turning around. That instant where you ask yourself, “What the heck am I doing here?” When physically you can move forward, but mentally your brain is trying to convince you otherwise. I won’t go so far as to say that I enjoy suffering, but truth be told, it doesn’t really bother me because I know that everything ends eventually. Obviously, I take immense pleasure in skiing powder under blue skies, kitesurfing or diving on a sun-drenched day, or even running on a mountain in summertime. But what really drives us isn’t perfection: It’s the passion for being outdoors no matter what. This is what makes us put our mile-a-minute lifestyles on hold to watch a lakeside sunrise, gather our friends to go climbing or simply crack open a beer and tell tales of our recent exploits. Passionate people have a distinct sparkle in their eyes, and it was very present in Christine Chénard and Guy Dubuc when they visited our offices to present their company, Happy Yak ( For the past 15 years, Christine, a nutritionist, has been developing lyophilized meals for outdoorscentric companies. In concocting delicious meals to savour in the wild, she has found her passion, which,

incidentally, has turned into a booming business. In fact, you may have seen the company’s logo on Mylène Paquette’s boat last fall as she rowed across

COVER IMAGE: Sarah, 23 years old, fills her water bottle under the cold clear waters of Tunnel Falls on Eagle Creek trail in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon, USA. Tunnel Falls received its name due to a tunnel being cut from the bedrock behind the falls so that hikers and trail runners can pass further up the gorge. The trail becomes very narrow during this section and it is necessary to hold onto a safety cable. (@ Jonathan Kingston / Aurora Photos)

the Atlantic! The nutritional balance of the tasty meals is undeniable, but more importantly, plenty of passion goes into preparing these new-generation rations. Eating well when you’re out in the bush works wonders for morale and energy – two key ingredients to help achieve (and surpass!) goals. Indeed, nothing is as crucial as passion. When you strip away the ego and artifice of a day spent in the great outdoors, what’s left is a sense of happiness about enjoying life and nature. It’s what pushes us to surpass ourselves, to get up and try again when we fall, to get out of bed, and to look for the purity in experiences. In this era of hyper-connectivity, we easily forget just how comfortable we are. A hot shower feels a million times better after a day spent ice climbing or three days of winter camping at -20oC. This drive to discover the unknown, to overcome our fears and worries and to go forth no matter what gets thrown our way, is what pushes us out of our comfort zone – literally and figuratively. Passion can be different for all of us, but it is primordial. It enriches our lives and propels us to new, often unimaginable heights. Shouldn’t we all live passionately? Chris Levesque, Editor @chrislevesque

Spring 2014 :: Vol. 6 :: No. 1 PUBLISHER: Stéphane Corbeil ( EDITOR: Chris Levesque ( SENIOR EDITOR: Stephania Varalli | CONTRIBUTORS: Michel Caron, Matt Colautti, Peter Dobos, Bryen Dunn, Patrice Halley, Ilona Kauremszky, Shelagh McNally, Travis Persaud, Kristy Strauss, Kathleen Wilker.

PROOFREADER: Christopher Korchin TRANSLATOR: Christine Laroche COVER PHOTO: Sarah, 23 years old, fills her water bottle under the cold clear

waters of Tunnel Falls on Eagle Creek trail in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon, USA. (© Jonathan Kingston / Aurora Photos)


Vincent Cloutier, S ales Manager / / 450 672-0052, ext. 401 Jon Marcotte, Publications sales / / 450 672-0052, ext. 426

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David Mene, Publications sales / / 450 672-0052, ext. 428 Marie-Ève Raymond, Publications sales coordinator / / 450 672-0052, poste 430

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

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.


The Invisible Bike Helmet BY SHELAGH MCNALLY

Bike helmets are cumbersome and ugly – a problem for the fashion-conscious, or if you need to arrive at the office with a decent coif. Enter the brand new Hövding. It’s easily the most stylish bike helmet on the market. And the only one that’s invisible.

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Hövding is actually a collar worn around the neck that inflates during a crash, creating an airbag that covers your entire head. Made from ultra-strong nylon fabric, the airbag looks like a hood when fully inflated – and actually provides better protection than traditional helmets. It’s the invention of industrial designers Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, who took up the task of designing a better helmet as part of their master’s thesis at the University of Lund in Sweden. In 2006, after their initial concept won several innovation awards, Haupt and Alstin began production of Hövding. The team spent years staging controlled accidents and studying bicycle crash data; the resulting algorithm triggers accelerometers and gyros to inflate the Hövding’s helium airbag when it’s needed. Currently on sale in Europe, it should be in North America soon. At $540 it’s a pricey (but cool) alternative to conventional helmets. Find out more at


one trail 50 km per week, and put in lots of strength training. I think I averaged about 100 km of trail running per week in the lead-up. I also kept mountain biking, because it’s fun. That’s it! What type of strength training did you mostly do? I mostly do body-weight exercises, like push-ups and planks. I also do lots of physical work whenever I can. This usually involves carrying heavy logs through the bush. Did you try to tailor your training to the obstacles that you thought you’d have to run? I had a general idea of what the obstacles would be like from videos of last year, but I didn’t have the resources to build a full replica course. I mostly just focused on making sure that certain muscle groups wouldn’t let me down late into the race (calves, hamstrings, shoulders, core, feet).

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Do you follow a specific type of diet? I eat a (mostly) vegetarian diet. Except that I eat eggs, and fish. Also, sometimes I will eat venison, but only if my friend killed it. I’m pretty much the worst vegetarian ever. My belief is that most grocery store meats are very low quality, and do more harm than good. I also avoid most dairy products, because they upset my stomach. Otherwise, I try to eat lots of veggies, and enjoy lots of chocolate in slower, longer training sessions.

Q&A with Ryan Atkins: Tips From the World’s Toughest BY PETER DOBOS

Migrate the prototypical California surf bum to Canada, make him awesome at everything, and you just might end up with someone like the 2013 World’s Toughest Mudder, Ryan Atkins. Crowned champion after completing 100 miles in just over 23 hours, he was a full five-mile lap ahead of second-place finisher (and two-time WTM winner) Junyong Pak. The 26-year-old grew up in Ottawa doing typical Canadian sports, but his first foray into competition was distinctly different: unicycle trials riding. From there, things gradually snowballed into mountain biking, running, orienteering, skiing, adventure racing and now, obstacle course racing.

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How did the idea of doing WTM come about? Last summer, I worked with a Canadian Company called Mud Hero. I helped build the obstacles for their 6-km Mud Run. I would run the course whenever I got the chance to “test” it. Really, I was just having fun. When I learned that for WTM 2013 there was no qualification process, I just pulled the trigger and signed up! You were already crazy fit, so what, if anything, did you add to your training for WTM? I increased my run mileage, while still trying not to burn out. I did a really big week on a vacation in California, about 10 weeks out. In the last five weeks prior to the event, I did lots of gear testing, ran at least

How achievable do you think a standard Tough Mudder is? I think the TM events are achievable for anyone who puts in a little bit of training. It is quite hard though, and pretty much everyone will be challenged by them. The only difference between an elite athlete and someone getting into it is how fast you will complete it. If you had five tips to give the generally active person thinking about trying their first obstacle race, what would they be? 1. Do lots of running and jumping in your training. I like vaulting over fences and trees whenever possible. 2. Pace yourself, and wear appropriate clothing. There are often chances to get wet. If you are working hard, you won’t get cold. If you are going easy, you probably will. 3. If you are trying to win a fast race, wear shoes with a really aggressive tread. Otherwise, most trail runners will be fine. 4. Make sure you can run at least 80 percent of the race distance in training. The obstacles do make it harder, but they also break up the run nicely, making it seem shorter. 5. Sign up! NOW! Either on your own, or with some friends. It’s a great social event, as well as a great challenge.

invites you










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© RYB Denim

RYB Denim, or Ride Your Bike Denim, is Chandel Bodner’s crowd-funded jean company, designed for women who cycle. Instead of a centre seam, RYB jeans have a gusset, similar to the shape of padding inside bike shorts. Add in a sweatwicking fabric blend and some stretch in the thighs to accommodate muscular legs in motion, and you’ve got greater comfort and health for city riding. Other brilliant details include tapered calves so the jeans won’t get stuck in the chain; a higher waist to keep your back covered while riding; and a belt loop designed for carrying a U-lock. As a cyclist and a bike polo player, Chandel Bodner was frustrated that the jeans she wore while riding around town wore out quickly and weren’t comfortable on the bike. With her degree in fashion design and merchandising, and her experience working in the fashion industry, Bodner created the garment she needed – one that offered function as well as style. Through the crowd-funding site Indiegogo, and as a result of her successful cross-country fitting tour, Bodner was able to raise $36,756 – well beyond her $25,000 goal. Bodner calls her successful campaign “exciting and validating,” and is now focusing on business planning and projecting.

RYB Jeans are manufactured in Toronto, so that Bodner can visit the factory whenever she wants. Having worked in fashion on a much larger scale, Bodner appreciates the friendliness of connecting directly with women who bike, and with the small, independent bike retailers who are carrying her jeans. While the first batch was only available to campaign backers, select shops across Canada and the U.S. are carrying the line this spring, including Urbane Cyclist ( and Cycle Couture ( in Toronto, Tall Tree Cycles ( in Ottawa and Bikurious ( in Montreal. The suggested retail price is $149.

New this spring, the Osprey Rev series of packs, paired with the new Hydraulics LT Reservoir, are perfect companions for your endurance endeavours. My favourite for long runs on the trail: the Rev 1.5. The Osprey Rev 1.5 with Hydraulics LT Reservoir is a streamlined solution that can still handle all you need on the trail, from basic safety gear to nutrition (there’s even a handy DigiFlip pocket that keeps your phone/iPod weatherprotected and touch screen-accessible). Osprey compares the fit to a shirt rather than a backpack, and the description is accurate. Designed to move with you, minimizing bouncing and rubbing, you’ll barely notice it’s on. Empty, it’s a mere 280 grams. The Rev 1.5 comes with the innovative 1.5 Litre Hydraulics LT Reservoir. Built-in baffles prevent sloshing, as well as help the reservoir maintain its low-profile shape, keeping the weight close to your body. The quarter-inch hose detaches for quick and easy refilling, and the bite valve has a small magnet that keeps it locked onto your sternum strap. The Rev series comes in five sizes to suit all of your fast and light needs (the largest pack, the Rev 24, only weighs in at half a kilo). All come with the Hydraulics LT Reservoir, but you can also purchase one separately. Osprey REV | 1.5 litre – $90 | 6 l – $120 | 12 l – $130 | 18 l – $140 | 24 l – $150 Osprey Hydraulics LT Reservoir | 1.5 Litre – $32 | 2.5 Litre - $34 8 spring 2014

SIGNS POINT TO A WALKABLE, BIKEABLE OTTAWA Thanks to Awesome Ottawa (, a group of generous granters who award $1,000 each month to someone with a great idea for contributing to the vitality of the nation’s capital, Lana Stewart will be enhancing her city’s streetscape with guerrilla way-finding signs. Indicating the walking or biking distances to interesting culinary and cultural destinations, Stewart’s signs will speak to pedestrians and cyclists who might be tempted to make a detour off the bike paths or the sidewalks – if only they knew where to go. Stewart, who blogs about biking and walking in Ottawa at, plans to start distributing her signs in the vicinity of downtown Ottawa in late spring. “I’d like there to be a certain density of signs, and choosing central locations will make it easier for me to deliver and install on my bike,” says Stewart, whose family has been car-free since 2000. Inspired by a popular Kickstarter project called Walk Your City ( that she backed in 2012, Stewart looks forward to marking the kinds of destinations that are less official. Currently, signs along bike routes like the Ottawa River Parkway only indicate the direction and distance to major landmarks, like the Parliament Buildings. “Walk Your City will calculate the walking time between

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an origin and a destination,” says Stewart, who has sourced a local print company for the corrugated plastic signs she intends to use. While she’ll favour destinations that are pedestrian- and bike-friendly, like bakeries with bike racks, Stewart also looks forward to soliciting feedback from residents on must-visit spots. To give her signs the best chance of staying up, Stewart has been researching official rules and regulations for signs in Ottawa. “Most of the rules are about distances from intersections and readability,” she says, noting that instead of naming specific businesses, which might violate the city’s policies around advertising, she will give more general directions like “craft beer, sunny patio” and “artisanal truffles.”


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Those looking to explore the Eastern Townships of Quebec now have access to a handy new online tool that details a variety of information for more than 1,300 kilometres of trails in the region. By visiting, you can search more than 80 different trails by location, distance, level of difficulty, whether looped or linear, and available facilities. Pick a trail that fits your criteria and you’ll be given the departure point, any associated costs, nearby accommodations and a map link. The portal was designed for short hikes, but the more ambitious can choose one of two longer treks listed, and multi-day trips are also possible from a base point. Other trail activities – such as snowshoeing, horseback riding and biking – are also noted, and soon you’ll be able to search for indoor activities as well, like museums, concert halls and art galleries. There are plans to create a similar dedicated tool for road- and trail-cycling routes, while mountain biking, cross-country skiing and paddling will remain searchable within the main tourism website. Go find your perfect hiking trail today! spring 2014 9





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Kelso is part of Halton Conservation Area, located 45 minutes west of Toronto, along the Niagara Escarpment. Just off Highway 401 you’ll find 22 km of well-marked and well-maintained trails, ranging from beginner to expert. Pedal through old-growth forest and across fields, stop to admire the vistas from the top of the escarpment, and have fun playing on technical features like bridges and teeter-totters.

36 other models in store



and jumps. Leading steadily upward, the trails come out at the top of a ski lift and offer an extraordinary view of the whole region. BY KATHLEEN WILKER

Located 40 minutes from downtown Montreal, Mont Rigaud is a family-friendly centre that offers 20 kilometres of trails for a range of skill levels. With a full fleet of mountain bikes for rent and the possibility of private lessons, beginners interested in trying the sport will find it’s a great place for an introduction. There’s even a pump track, included in the price of admission, to work on your bike-handling skills. Winding above the mountain bike trails is an aerial park, giving the forest the feeling of an Ewok village with creatures scrambling overhead. Beginner trails have almost all rocks removed to make for a smoother ride, while the intermediate and expert trails use the rocks to create challenging technical elements like drops 10 spring 2014

Trails are well maintained, but are closed in the case of rain or significant mud to prevent damage, so it’s best to call ahead if you’re wondering if they’re open. Regardless of your skill level, helmets are mandatory on all trails. A trail map is available online or at the main lodge, when you purchase your pass. A bike wash station is located outside the main lodge and a snack bar is open seasonally. Activity: Mountain biking Level: Beginner to advanced Season: Open 9 a.m.–4 p.m. in spring and fall, 8:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. from June 24–September 1

Don’t worry – newer riders can take easy detours around the technical stuff, or stick to the wider double-track. A not-to-be-missed trail for more seasoned riders is the flowing Snakes and Ladders route, so named because the trail swoops from side to side as it follows a creek gully downhill. A trail map with clearly marked beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert routes can be downloaded from the website and is also available at the Chalet or the Gatehouse, where park entrance fees are collected. Some trails are shared with hikers, but the more challenging trails are for the exclusive use of mountain bikers (keep an eye out for signs and trail blazes as the hiking-only Bruce Trail meanders

through Kelso). If you don’t have the energy for a long climb up from the main parking lot, you can use the summit entrance and stick to the high ground of the escarpment – but we’re pretty sure advanced riders won’t be able to resist the rush of the ride down. Activity: Mountain biking Level: Beginner to advanced Season: April to November Cost: Entrance fee to the park: $6.75 adults, $5 children (5–14). Individual season’s passes are $50. Gear: Mountain bike and helmet required

Other activities: Relax on the sandy shores of Kelso Lake (canoe and kayak rental is available too). Hike on shared paths and the Bruce Trail. You can also visit the on-site Halton Region Museum. Getting there: Take Hwy. 401 W. to exit 320 for Regional Rd. 25 N. toward Halton Hills/Acton. Head left on 5 Side Rd. (Campbellville Rd.), left onto Tremaine Rd. and right onto Kelso Rd. Park entrance is on your right. The summit entrance is at the junction of Steeles Ave. and Old Bell School Lane. For more: or call 905-878-5011


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Cost: $10 adults, $8 children (6–17), children under 5 free. Season passes are $52 for adults, $46 for children. Private bike lessons are also available: $48 for one hour, $20 for a second person at the same skill level. Gear: Bikes and helmets available to rent for three hours or the day Other activities: Zip-lining, trampoline jumping, a full aerial park and access to climbing walls are available for additional fees. Reservations are required for these activities. Getting there: From Montreal, take Autoroute 40 West to the Trans-Canada Hwy., continue southwest. Take exit 12 for QC-342 toward Rigaud. Turn left onto Chemin de la Grande Ligne/Rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste E. Turn left onto Rue Saint-Pierre. Mont Rigaud will be on the left. The parking lot closes at 4 p.m. Additional parking is available on Rue Saint-Pierre. For more: or call 514-990-1286 spring 2014 11

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

MY FIRST EXTREME POINT TECHNICALLY they are known as Canada’s extreme points. For the unfamiliar, they are better understood as the four compass extents of the country. Visiting all four extremes would appear to be an iconic opportunity to tour the nation’s diverse geography. It’s just that Canada’s extreme points are a bit more… extreme, than most places. Take Canada’s most eastern location, a rocky headland on the Labrador coast named Cape St. Charles. To get there from Quebec City it’s a 2,000-kilometre drive on remote roads known to receive five metres of snow per year. At the extreme west is Boundary Peak 187, an icy, near-inaccessible peak located deep within Yukon’s Kluane National Park. And the easiest way to Murchison Promontory, the most northern point of Canada – and incidentally, North America – is by boat through the perilous Northwest Passage during the brief summer thaw. The alternative is a traverse of over 1,000 kilometres of tundra from the nearest winter ice road. 12 spring 2014

THEN THERE IS POINT PELEE. Canada’s most southern point, with an average July temperature of 23oC, may be tropical in comparison to its three companions. Its cover of Carolinian, deciduous trees may be unknown throughout the rest of the country. At only five hours’ drive from Toronto, it is certainly the most accessible of the extremes. Yet none of these qualities makes Point Pelee any less dramatic a place to visit and ponder the scale and scope of the country. “You could check out the Marsh Boardwalk,” explains the ranger at the park entrance, “since two-thirds of the park is actually wetland.” It doesn’t take her long to figure out that I am mostly interested

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in getting to the point. Before I know it, she has opened up park brochures and is making the sale for an extended visit. “There is also Northwest Beach, which can get very crowded. And West Beach. And the bike trail, if you hurry.” I decide to take a few more stops to experience the landscape along the way. It’s easy to imagine this place as a respite from the hottest days of the summer. The road along the coast from Leamington is dotted with small waterfront homes, and afternoon shouts of kids playing outside give the street a distinctly cottage-country character. Before reaching the gates I stop at Birdie’s Perch to try the region’s most highly reviewed fish and chips, appropriately located in a bright red double-decker bus. Point Pelee has been no stranger to visitors. The four-kilometre-long peninsula spent the 1800s as a naval reserve. During these years it supported commercial fisheries, logging, sand extraction, hunting

and even wineries. With resource exploitation driving species to extinction, the peninsula was designated a national park in 1918. This did little to curb the problem. Cottages, camps and even hotels provided the means for an expanding middle class to come experience nature. By the early 1960s, annual visitors numbered over 700,000. In the 1970s, the park service shifted its focus to conservation and embarked on an aggressive campaign of buying back private land. Much of the damage has been repaired, so that the park today is more natural than it has been for much of recent history. But the effects can never be undone. Today, Point Pelee has more species designated at risk than any other national park in Canada. The turnoff for the Marsh Boardwalk is not far from the park gates. Sure enough, the forest ends and is replaced by an expanse of wetland reeds. I climb the multilevel lookout tower at the water’s edge. From the top, I suddenly understand the attraction to this place. Below me is a carpet of reeds, swaying in the wind like the hairs of a cat. In the distance, I can see deep-blue marsh ponds. Beyond, I can just make out the thin border of trees that form the eastern edge of the park and the separation from Lake Erie. This may be Canada’s smallest national park, but the view is no less grand. I continue exploring with a walk along the one-kilometre-long Marsh Boardwalk. Visitors with big lenses photograph animals hiding amid the cattails. I wave to canoeists navigating the channels toward the ponds. Birds dart across the lily pads, and I feel a serene connection with nature. Indeed, this is one of the largest wetlands in Canada, designated by UNESCO as a Wetland of International Significance. Point Pelee National Park owes its creation not to an extreme point but rather to the birding world. The peninsula’s unique location jutting into Lake Erie makes it an ideal stop for migratory birds, and over 350 species have been spotted in the park. The majority of all known bird species in Ontario have been found here. Naturally, the park is listed as one of the top birding spots in North America. A sign informs me that I am two and a half kilometres from the Tip. Another indicates that I am not far from the 42nd parallel, at the same latitude as northern California and Rome. It is getting exciting! Purists will point out that Point Pelee is not in fact Canada’s most southern point. That honour actually goes to Middle Island, a 46-acre speck in Lake Erie that is located mere metres from the U.S. border. The island became part of Point Pelee National Park in 2000, but because of its fragile ecosystem it remains closed to visitors. Further north but much more

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accessible is Pelee Island, which is connected to Leamington by ferry. Wineries have made the island a household name in Ontario. The path through the forest is quiet, and it is just the sounds of birds that accompany me on the last section of the hike. There is a peacefulness to this place, a solitude that one would expect upon reaching the ends of the earth. Slowly, the trees on either side of the path thin, and before long I can hear the crash of the waves on both shores. I emerge from the forest onto a small triangular beach, and I realize that I have made it. The only features are a small monitoring station and a lifesaving buoy; beyond, the sandy spit disappears quietly into the shimmering waters of Lake Erie. The point can’t be much larger than a subway platform. Up close, it’s easy to understand that this GPSrecorded extreme location is hardly fixed in place. The sandy nature of the point makes it susceptible to lake currents on either side. The shape of the point changes over the years; it even disappeared briefly after a storm in 2006. These currents also make it extremely dangerous to swim here. I decide to chance wading in up to my kneecaps. The sand is coarse under my feet as I run barefoot to the water’s edge. Looking back to the north, it’s hard not to be humbled by geography. The little beach abruptly ends at the forest. From there, I can almost imagine the entire country stretching out toward its three other extremes. For a moment, all of our history and all of our lives and futures seem anchored to this point. I let the moment take my imagination before being snapped back into the present by the calls of shorebirds flying low along the water. I begin to walk back along the western shore, letting the late-day sun cast a long shadow over the sand. The water is balmy, a reminder that I am still in the country’s deep south. That’s one extreme point visited. Only three more to go.

PLAN YOUR GETAWAY GETTING THERE: Point Pelee is located close to the town of Leamington, about a five-hour drive from Toronto. Follow signs along Bevel Line (County Rd. 33) to the park entrance. RATES: Adult entry fees are $7.80. WHERE TO STAY: As part of the conservation plan, camping is not permitted at Point Pelee. The nearest campsites, at Wheatley Provincial Park, are located 25 kilometres from the park entrance (starting at $39.55 per night). Comfortable bed and breakfasts such as the Marlborough House (starting at $148 per night) can be found in Leamington. WHERE TO EAT: There are numerous picnic areas throughout the park. For fresh yellow perch, be sure to stop by Birdie’s Perch at 625 Point Pelee Dr. Freshly picked greenhouse vegetables and fruit can usually be found at roadside farm stands in the area. For a more formal meal, try Jack’s Gastropub, located within a hundred-year-old home in nearby Kingsville. WHEN TO GO: May is high season to experience the spring migration, and the Festival of Birds during this time is particularly popular. September is ideal for experiencing the monarch butterfly migration. The shuttle to the tip operates between April and mid-October, but the park is open every day of the year. RENTALS: Canoes can be rented at the Marsh Boardwalk ($17 per hour). Bicycles are available during the summer months ($20 for half a day). FOR MORE: spring 2014 13

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Kick back in a hot tub beneath a forest canopy among native Quebec pines. Cycle, hike or horseback ride as you overlook Lake Massawippi. Treat your taste buds to award-winning local cuisine and an extensive wine list. Travel back in time – with modern luxuries at your fingertips – at Le Ripplecove Hôtel Sur Le Lac, a.k.a. Ripplecove Lakefront Hotel, in Ayer’s Cliff, Quebec..

R&R Whether you’re looking for a stylish standard room or a luxury log cabin, Le Ripplecove Hôtel Sur Le Lac offers the best of both worlds. Cozy rooms overlooking the lake or gardens are available (from $155 per night • 800-668-4296 •, or curl up by a crackling fire in one of the hotel’s authentic vintage log cabins. Cabins include the romantic Appalachian Cottage (from $442 per night), offering three bedrooms and a lakeside covered porch. Guests can also nestle beneath a canopy of 100-year-old maple and birch trees in the Birches Cabin (from $442 per night). The three-bedroom Owl’s View Chalet (from $395 per night) is a cedar log cottage located on beautiful Lake Memphremagog. For those looking for a picturesque experience, the cabin also has an amazing view of Owl’s Head Mountain.

EAT Ripplecove’s Le Riverain (800-668-4296 • dining room offers a mix of international and French fare with a local spin. Executive chef David Vinas uses only the freshest local ingredients in each dish – from appetizers such as foie gras spirited with Poire Williams, seared, caramellized pecans and pear chutney ($25) to mains including confit of goose, duckling fillet with cacao, potatoes and figs, and vegetable harvest ($39). Year after year, the restaurant has earned the CAA/AAA Four-Diamond Award, and its Victorian décor with views of the lake and live classical piano offer guests an incredible dining experience. 14 spring 2014

PLAY HIKE: Spot turtles, frogs, wetlands and marshes as you hike along the nearby Tomifobia Nature Trail (by donation only • The trail is located about 10 kilometres from Ripplecove, and features 19 kilometres of unpaved trail offering scenic views of Quebec’s Eastern Townships. Hikers can also take in the history of the area, including the portion of a former rail line that ran from Ayer’s Cliff to Beebe, Quebec, from 1870 to 1990. HORSEBACK RIDE: Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, recharge your batteries while horseback riding at the nearby Jacques Robidas Centre D’Équitation (from $65 per person • 819-563-0166 • Located on the north end of Lake Massawippi, the equestrian centre offers packages including beginner lessons and group activities. Guests can also learn how to communicate with horses and check out the sugar shack on site – featuring sap fresh from the surrounding trees each spring. CANOE: Spring is the perfect time to get out on the water in the Tomifobia River Valley ( During the season, the river is usually high enough to canoe or kayak. The best place to hit the water is at kilometre 12 of the nature trail, where a stairway has been built for easy access down to the river .



Iroquois tribes dubbed it Manitouana, or the “Garden of the Great Spirit.” Get swept away by the spring beauty in Thousand Islands National Park, a waterway that actually boasts 1,865 islands, spanning over 80 kilometres from east to west between Brockville and Kingston. It teems with wilderness, paddling routes and trails.

Steeped in history, the stunning Athlone Inn (from $120 nightly and includes full breakfast • 888-382-7122) in Gananoque has nine rooms and a separate cottage suite for extra privacy. It’s one of those places where you feel right at home, thanks to proprietors Jason and Miranda. Parks Canada (camping $15.70 nightly • reservation. has ample campsites on the many islands. Sites typically have a picnic table, fire pit and composting toilets – except Grenadier Central, which has full washroom facilities. For those inching closer to totally roughing it, but not quite there yet, consider the new glamping-style oTENTiks ( otentik) available on McDonald and Gordon Islands. Don’t bother schlepping heavy camp gear – it’s all there for you in this cross between a tent and a cabin that fits up to six people.

EAT No wonder it’s dubbed the Socialist Pig (613-463-8800 • It’s a great community hangout, specializing in sustainable slow food. Coffee put this downtown eatery on the Gananoque map, and while its offerings are limited, they’re all sublime. The starter could be a beef carpaccio with endives and Parmesan. For the main, go for the Old Pig ($18): beef brisket and mac ’n’ cheese stuffed in a puff pastry. There’s also great evening entertainment. If you don’t feel like leaving your hotel after a full day outside, the Athlone Inn (888-382-7122 • has an on-site restaurant helmed by executive chef Jason McMillan, who sharpened his knife skills working at the historic Jasper Park Lodge. Big on contemporary French cuisine, here’s where you’ll find pickerel à la meunière ($26) and a good old-fashioned filet mignon ($31).

© Ontario Tourism


PLAY PADDLING: Explore the channels of the Thousand Islands and find cool discoveries around nearly every bend: sunken ships, historic castles and a landscape steeped in First Nations history. Hit the Frontenac Arch Biosphere (613-659-4824 •, a UNESCO World site, home to a number of paddling routes following the flow of the St. Lawrence River. We like the Brock Isles Route 9 for a full day of paddling, and you can overnight by permit. Lucky paddlers may glimpse a soaring bald eagle or a family of turtles basking on a rock. 1000 Islands Kayaking Company (from $55 for full-day kayak rentals • 613-329-6265 • has rentals and paddling tours. HIKING: Most islands have marked trails, so hikers can pick from advanced to easier options (maps are also available online). Camelot Island has a medium to difficult looped trail with steep rocky cliffs, thick forested interiors and soaring river views. Tucked between Downie and Potato Islands, Mulcaster Island is pegged as “nature’s arboretum” for its diverse tree species, so the looped trail is steeped in serenity-now isolation. Expect difficult spots along the southwest granite face. $185 per night • 877-783-7772 • offers plenty of extras, like free Wi-Fi, free parking and breakfast in bed – think croissants, quiche, granola, whole fruit and yogurt. As the name suggests, this boutique hotel also has a full-service spa (55-minute Swedish massage, $115). Each room has unique furnishings and added touches harkening back to the building’s former days as Borden’s Dairy.

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Niagara Falls might be a natural wonder, but it’s further downriver by the dramatic cliffs of the Niagara Glen where bouldering types and hikers gather to enjoy predinosaur rock faces. Warm spring days can be well spent in the Niagara Glen, dubbed the largest developed bouldering area in southern Ontario. It’s about a two-hour drive from Toronto.

R&R In Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Pillar and Post (from $269 per night • 888-669-5566 •, with its on-site 100 Fountain Spa, is perfect for unwinding after bouldering all day (try a 50-minute Swedish massage, $120). The former cannery is styled as a country inn, combining cozy with luxurious accents, like 300-thread-count cotton bedding. In Niagara Falls, the Sterling Inn and Spa (from

Remington’s of Niagara (mains $15–$40 • 905-356-4410 • is a steak and seafood restaurant that lives up to its name: The interior is laden with a huge private art collection of bronze Remington statues depicting the Old West. The house specialty, a hand-rubbed and slow-roasted prime rib, goes down nicely after a day of exploring the Niagara Gorge. On the city’s main drag of Lundy’s Lane, you’ll find Carpaccio Restaurant and Wine Bar (mains $15–$40 • 905-371-2063 •, a casual eatery specializing in Italian fare. There’s no wondering why it has been voted Niagara Falls’ best resto for six consecutive years: The menu has everything from pastas, steaks and seafood to the ultimate brick-oven pizza, and it’s all delicious.

PLAY BOULDERING: High above the swirling vortex of the Niagara Whirlpool, the Niagara Glen offers a giant bouldering playground. And with problems ranging from V0 to V11, it can satisfy a broad range of abilities. There are plenty of challenges to choose from, and you could easily lose track of time exploring Wonderland, Bizzaro World, Romper Room or The Neighbourhood (to name a few). Permits are available at the Niagara Glen Nature Centre ($20 annual permit • 905-354-6678 •, and you can download a free guide to Bouldering in the Glen by Dave Porter at HIKING: If you aren’t up for bouldering but still need to get away from the hordes of tourists by Niagara Falls, the Niagara Glen also offers serene hiking opportunities. Download a free map from the Niagara Glen Nature Centre’s website ( illustrating seven marked trails, each with varying difficulty levels. Highlights include the River Path, which follows alongside the Niagara River, offering photo ops of Carolinian forest, indigenous flora and fauna, plus crazy jet boat riders negotiating the dangerous rapids. spring 2014 15

OUTDOOR SHOES AND CLOTHING © 2014 Wolverine Outdoors, Inc.



The first time I travelled with my bike, I was offered a last-minute opportunity: fly down to Peru to join a self-supported expedition traversing the southern Andes. I hastily and happily packed my ride into a cardboard box kindly provided by a local bike shop owner. Although a couple of holes were visible in the box upon arrival, nothing inside was missing. The bike only vanished two weeks later in the middle of the mountains, when midnight thieves disappeared with three bikes and two Bob trailers, leaving our wannabe expedition team crippled at the bottom of the Colca Canyon. It’s there that I had time to start ruminating about the dos and don’ts of journeying with a bike: Always listen to the barking of a well-intentioned dog; carry a good lock and a cable; make sure your ride is covered by your home insurance. As the only Spanish speaker on our Peru adventure, I ended up with an unwanted full-time translator position. By the time I’d dealt with local police to obtain a report (for insurance claims) and a missing passport, we’d lost five full days. We continued our journey on rented bikes that were breaking all the time. The itinerary made us sleep at brain-sucking elevations without being acclimatized. The riverbeds were dry – not ideal when you carry only dehydrated food. The singletrack turned out to be sand traps, and we ended up carrying our bikes more than we rode them. We all got sick, grouchy and tired, experiencing very little of the fun you can expect to have while visiting a downhill mecca. And we all finished the trip with a big smile. It was, after all, an adventure. Still, I was certainly glad I didn’t organize the journey. And if I had, I probably wouldn’t have fared much better. Going out on your own can work – you will save money, and be able to ride whatever you want, whenever you want. But speaking from experience: Even if you’re skilled in the art of handling local logistics, you may be surprised by all the little things that can go wrong. Eventually, the cow pie will probably hit the crankset. Unless you’re a freedom freak who wants to avoid pre-set itineraries, minibus travelling and “annoying” people struggling to keep up with you, you should consider an organized tour. 18 spring 2014

Whether searching for pristine singletrack or that magical ribbon of asphalt, there are a few things you should know if you want to return home safe and sound.

Keep in mind: An organized tour doesn’t guarantee safety. On a trip in Chile, while trying to keep up with the former downhill champion, I crashed hard. Exactly 500 metres short of the end of the trail, I separated a shoulder. A year later, I fell from a rock step in the middle of Guatemala and broke a hand. Fortunately, I had backup assistance, and plenty of time to think about the experiences while sitting in the minibus. In Chile, the bashing was due to a combination of relentless energy and foolhardiness (caused by the overuse of an energy drink). In Guatemala, it was definitely the stiff and unadjusted suspension on the entry-level rental bike. Lessons learned: Always leave your pride behind, and whenever you can, travel with a piece of equipment you know you can trust.

Money Matters - Find out your airline’s handling charges for bikes before get ting to the airport. The IATA stipulates that no matter how many flight legs you need to get to your final destination, as long as you don’t overnight, the airline of origin charges the initial transport fee. - If you have a credit card that offers luggage insurance, use it to pay any handling fee. This will help you to recover the cost of a lost/ damaged bike. - Airlines won’t accept liability if a bike is packed in a card board box. If you plan to travel at least once a year with your bicycle, you should consider buying a bike case. - Soft bags are good enough for sturdy aluminum mountain bike frames, but not recommended for carbon-fibre or road bikes. - A good rule of thumb: The more expensive the bike is, the sturdier the case should be.

20 STEPS TO STRATEGICALLY PACK A BIKE 9. Squeeze a wood or plastic spacer between the dropouts (where the front wheel attaches). 10. Protect the dropouts (where damping adjusters and air valve are) with extra bubble wrap (think of making a miniature boxing glove). 11. Remove air from the front wheel tube and cover the front disc in bubble wrap. 12. Make sure your chain is on the biggest chain ring to protect the teeth. 13. Use a pedal wrench (combined with Allen key if needed) to remove both pedals. Put each pedal forward and, using the wrench, press on it downward. The left pedal is undone clockwise, the right is undone counter-clockwise. Store both pedals in your bag. 14. Deflate and remove the rear wheel. 15. Protect the cassette and disc brake with bubble wrap. 16. Using your Allen key set, remove the derailleur and derailleur hanger from the frame (a small metal part generally made out of aluminum) and wrap it before attaching it to the seat stay with quick ties. Be careful not to twist the cable. 17. Wrap your chain and seat stay tubes in pipe insulation. 18. Insert a spacer between rear dropouts and secure it with duct tape. 19. Remove your seat post, and wrap the greasy tube in a rag. 20. Pack the bike and wheels in the bag following your instruction manual. You can also add a spare derailleur hanger or two, extra tubes, helmet, gloves, shorts, tools, energy drinks, bars and spare parts.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED: Shock pump Set of Allen keys Pedal wrench Multi-tool Reusable cable ties (a.k.a. zip ties or quick ties) Polyethylene pipe insulation Commercial bubble wrap Duct or tuck tape 1. Use a smartphone/tablet to document the disassembly process for visual reference. 2. Start by draining air from the shocks. Don’t forget to write down the front and rear shock pressure. 3. Remove the front wheel, and slide a spacer between brake pads. 4. Unscrew the top head Allen bolt and remove the stem spacers. 5. Separate the stem from the head tube. 6. Wrap the handlebars in bubble wrap, using extra padding around shifters, and carefully fold onto the top tube in one single rotation move (avoid twisting cables), then attach them to the frame with quick ties. 7. Screw back the top head Allen bolt and stem spacers on thesteering tube. 8. Wrap the fork and suspension sliders in pipe insulation and secure them on the bottom tube with zip ties.


Come celebrate with us spring 2014 19 Fourty Years Young - Aventura 1_3H EN.indd 1

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© Ontario Tourism

In Quebec, Monts-Valin National Park is one of the better places for backcountry canoeing, or trying their newest offering of stand-up paddleboarding. Ontario’s Grundy Lake Provincial Park is perfect for beginners. For a wilder ride, Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park offers some of the most remote ice-out adventures in the province.

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In this park located in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region, canoeing is most popular on the serene Valin River, where it’s possible to paddle eight km upstream and five km downstream from the Discovery Centre. For something a bit more challenging, both Laliberté Lake and Leblanc Lake are extensions of Martin-Valin Lake in the table land area, making this a wonderful scenic exploration (if you don’t mind a little portaging) through a series of connecting rivers. Day trips can also be done within the ZEC Martin-Valin boundary around the park, which is a Controlled Operations Zone that allows both hunting and logging. ZEC also offers several courses for all experience levels, varying from five- to 15-km journeys, mostly on lakes linked by portages and with only basic camping facilities. This unique location also makes for great fishing, especially for speckled trout. Stand-up paddleboarding was recently introduced on the Valin River. Even if the water is low, there’s always a current that makes it quite easy to slide across the surface. Skilled paddlers can easily do up to a six-km loop in a day. Fauna tend to be more active in spring, and the barren vegetation makes it an ideal time for animal sightings like black bear, moose, white-tailed deer, lynx or the nearly 40 other species in the park. There have also been noted sightings of the grey wolf, coyotes and woodland caribou in the higher-altitude areas, where the arrival of spring is almost a month later than in the nearest town, Chicoutimi, nestled along the Saguenay River at sea level. Many combinations are also possible for multi-day hiking excursions, moving from hut to hut within the park. While spring is still a slower time of year at Monts-Valin, Robert Fluet, Park Warden and Nature Guide, says visitor numbers are slowly rising during his favourite time of year at the park: “In early spring the clashes of seasons – almost summer at the base of the mountain and still snow at the top – really makes hiking a mind-conflicting but wonderful experience.”

In addition to its namesake, Grundy Lake, this oftoverlooked provincial park features numerous inland lakes, relaxing sandy beaches, plus full amenities for camping or RVs – and it’s all easily navigable by canoe or kayak. Located just off the Trans-Canada Highway in between Sudbury and Parry Sound, it’s only a few hours’ drive from Toronto or Ottawa. And thanks to a ban on motorized boats, you’ll find nothing here but pure serenity. Make use of the 18 canoe launches and spend the day leisurely hopping between lakes. With eight natural sand beaches suited for swimming, you’ll have no trouble finding a spot to cool off or have a picnic break. Fancy catching your own lunch? The lakes are well-known for their fishing. There are campgrounds set up on Grundy, Gurd, Gut and Clear lakes. Don’t let the name Gut Lake fool you – it’s the most scenic. It’s also the smallest, so plan ahead if you want to stay at the nearby White Spruce campground. If you are looking for a quieter escape, there are nine backcountry campsites available on a number of inland lakes, such as Pakeshkag. A short paddle, from five to 20 minutes, will get you to your site. Each has a picnic table, tent space and a toilet nearby, making it a comfortable introduction for backcountry beginners.


Season: Open year-round Location: 360 Rang Saint-Louis, Saint-Fulgence, Quebec G0V 1S0 Contact: 800 665-6527, Accommodations: There’s a variety of accommodation options from rustic camping to the new upscale AntoineDubuc Lodge with a fully equipped kitchen, full bathrooms, a big living room with a fireplace, and a magnificent view of Baie d’Alexis in Lac aux Canots. Gear Rentals: Canoes, stand-up paddle boards, hiking poles and wetsuits are available for rent at the park.


Season: May 9 to October 14 Location: 20400 Hwy. 522, RR #1, Britt, ON P0G 1A0 Contact: 705-383-2286, grundylake Accomodations: Grundy Lake has everything from car campgrounds with electricity and amenities, to interior sites reachable by canoe. Gear Rentals: Canoe and kayak rentals, with delivery, are available from Grundy Lake Supply Post –



Ice-out canoe trips are a spring rite of passage with many regular park users at Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park, popular with adventurers who hit the streams and lakes early in the season by canoe and kayak. Located in the heart of Ontario’s Temagami region is a 2,400-km interconnecting network of rugged topography, clear lakes and rushing rivers that many call one of North America’s premier canoeing destinations. Precambrian bedrock rises to a dome at Ishpatina Ridge, forming the highest point in Ontario, with several others like Maple Mountain also within the top 10. Temagami also has more registered archaeological sites than anywhere else in northern Ontario.

The park forms the headwaters for a number of rivers in the area, including the mighty Lady Evelyn River, and is connected to four waterway parks that encompass ancient white-pine and redpine ecosystems. The Lady Evelyn River is best paddled early if you want to run its rapids, and the Makobe River also benefits from spring runoff. Lady Evelyn River is the central feature in the park, with a north branch that is road-accessible and a south branch that is only reached from other canoe routes or by float plane. The South Channel is longer and more rugged, with several high falls and challenging portages. The North Channel is shorter, with three large waterfalls. The Makobe River offers whitewater adventure that can be reached via Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater by portaging up the Grays River from the Lady Evelyn River, or by flying into Makobe Lake, the route’s headwaters. The river is best paddled in spring for whitewater winter runoff, but can also be done with more portaging later on in the season. The Temagami River is another great whitewater route, and one that requires some skill from canoeists and kayakers, especially early in the season. Multi-day paddling excursions can easily be done as well. The route from Smoothwater Lake to Scarecrow Lake begins on crown land on the Montreal River, heads south through Lady Dufferin Lake and eventually leads to Ishpatina Ridge. Paddling from Scarecrow Lake back to the put-in on the Montreal River is a good linear trip of several days. The Sturgeon River and the lakes of Solace Provincial Park connect to form an almost circular route back into Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater. There’s also a very remote and challenging lake-to-lake route that connects Florence Lake in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater with Wakimika Lake in the Obabika Lake waterway park. As a wilderness-class park, Lady EvelynSmoothwater offers backcountry camping only on authorized campsites that can’t be reserved in advance. Canoeists should be skilled and equipped to meet the demands of varying water and weather conditions. Maps for navigation are essential, and trip planning assistance can be obtained by calling the park office. Season: April 25 to October 26 Location: 24 Finlayson Park Rd., Temagami, ON, P0H 2H0 Contact: 705-569-3205, ladyevelynsmoothwater Ice-out information: Canadian Canoe Routes – Ottertooth – Chrismar Adventure Maps – Nearby outfitters and accommodations: Wanapitei Canoe – Smoothwater Lodge – Wanapitei Chateau – Lakeland Airways –

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WHEN YOU VENTURE OUT ON AN EXPEDITION TO CROSS THE FOURTH-LARGEST ISLAND IN THE WORLD, WHERE 90 PERCENT OF THE PLANTS AND ANIMALS ARE FOUND NOWHERE ELSE ON THE PLANET, THERE’S ONLY ONE THING YOU CAN EXPECT: THE UNEXPECTED. “Who’s here?” asks Greg, our group leader. “It’s Steph,” I answer, happy to discover he’s in the raft with me. Well, technically we’re under the raft, which has just flipped partway down a narrow chute of Class IV+ rapids. “All good?” “Yes.” “Get ready.” I don’t have time to ask why before I’m sucked into the final waterfall. The churning is so powerful, I can’t even figure out which way is up. I try to tell myself to stay calm. I try to remind myself that, even though we’ve already spotted two massive crocodiles on this river, they dislike swimming in rapids as much as I do. I try not to count the seconds before I finally break the surface, gasping for air. “Are you okay?” someone shouts from the shore. I’m better than okay. I’m on a real adventure.


Our first day of hiking is deceptively easy. Mainly on flat roads and trails, and sure of our direction, we cover 25 kilometres. Stopping in villages for 22 spring 2014

snack breaks and photos, we are looked at with mild curiosity. The Malagasy don’t get too many vasa (white people) trekking through. It’s not until after lunch on day two that the trail really begins to climb, snaking up and down hills that offer only a few small patches of shade. The pace slows to a sweaty crawl. We don’t make it to our goal site, instead pulling over on the side of the slope just as the sun is starting to set. While trying to figure out the best tent angle to keep my head higher than my feet, I think back to the briefing we’d received in Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital, just before setting off on the expedition. Greg had been clear: The itinerary was a guideline, not a guarantee. In the following days we trek through grasslands, patchy forests and marsh, sometimes on a trail, sometimes cutting our way through thick foliage with machetes. There are plenty of obstacles to negotiate: steep hills, river crossings, tricky footing, hairy bamboo (imagine an army of small needles pouncing on any part of your skin unlucky enough to brush against it). Our team quickly settles into a chain system of yelled-out warnings: Eyes! Feet! Hairy bamboo!

Every once in a while we catch a glimpse of our first goal: Maromokotro. It’s the highest mountain in Madagascar at 2,876 metres, and by the time we reach camp on the plateau just below, we’ve already climbed its equivalent height on the journey. The following morning we pile all of our unnecessary gear about an hour’s distance from the summit. The entire team – three Canadians, one Norwegian, one Estonian, two Englishmen, one Australian, 20 Malagasy – also begins stripping off anything black. The colour is banned because of local Fady, taboos that vary across the regions of Madagascar. We’d also be forbidden to climb on a Tuesday. And then there’s the business with the live white chicken. Max, our head local guide, makes a speech in Malagasy when we reach the top, offering up the chicken to the mountain with a dramatic toss, and shots of toaka gasy to the team. It’s not just the bootleg liquor that’s responsible for all the celebration, singing and posing for photos that follow – we’re all aware of how few people have enjoyed this view. (I do blame the toaka gasy, however, for tripping my way back down to the waiting gear pile.)

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The next morning I climb into the lead boat with five other team members and two live chickens (our dinner). We’re the first group to ever raft the Bemarivo River, so there’s no way to know what lies ahead. All the locals that we meet in the few villages dotting the shore assure us “there’s only one more

Join the Expedition While you can certainly get to Madagascar on your own, crossing from east to west is a feat that should only be undertaken with professional expertise and guides. My adventure was made possible by Secret Compass, a company that runs pioneering and purposeful expeditions to the most remote, inaccessible places on earth. They’ll be going back to Madagascar this year, and are currently looking for team members! DATES: May 3–24, 2014 GROUP SIZE: 12 DETAILS:

big one,” but that seems to be more reflective of how far down the river they’ve travelled. We keep encountering more rapids, most ranging from Class III to Class IV, and a few Class Get the Hell out of the Boat and Walk. I learn that the best way to tell what sort of rapid lies ahead is by the size of the group of spectators waiting nearby. If the vasa were a curious sight before, it’s like we’re celebrities now (or more like friendly celebrity aliens). In every village we pass we seem to pick up fans, running along the shore to keep up with the boats, stopping where they think they’ll get the best show. They’re also eager to assist with our portages, quickly stepping in to lend a hand. And it’s not exaggerating to say that we wouldn’t have made it without local help. On the night after our big flip, we aren’t able to reach our planned camp, where our porters are waiting. Instead we end up on a beach with no food and no cooking supplies. Max heads out into the darkness, returning about an hour later with a group of villagers carrying bowls filled with coconut chicken and rice. I’ve never been so thankful for a meal. As we make our way to the coast, the Bemarivo becomes wide and calm. On our last big day of paddling, I spot the porters we’d parted with at the end of the trek, all cheering us from the shore. It’s great to be reunited with their familiar smiles. Our final night of camping is on a sandbar where the river splits. There’s a sense of elation for the accomplishments of the last three weeks, but also some sadness among the group. We started out as strangers, with varied strengths and weaknesses, varied levels of experience, and a big mix of personalities. Experiencing everything from suffering to celebration has created a strong bond – and it’s not easy to let go.


I can say that the trip was 150 km of trekking and 100 km of rafting, but that doesn’t nearly cover what I experienced. The landscape we traversed was diverse and always beautiful, but the people are what makes Madagascar unique and unforgettable. Their kindness, their generosity, their joy, their curiosity – I had so many encounters that left me speechless. And that’s the magic of it: experiencing something that challenged my view of the world, that left me with a sense of awe, that was filled with surprises. And the final surprise? I never expected it would be this hard to go home.

© Stephania-Varalli

The landscape changes dramatically as we descend the spiny ridge that divides Madagascar’s west and east. In less than two days, we travel from tundra to the edge of a jungle. This is where the real bushwhacking begins, where every step is a bit of a fight (or a slide down a hill on my ass). It’s hard work but worth it: The deeper we go, the greater the chance that we’ll spot a lemur, one of my goals for the trip. They’re only found in Madagascar, as are nearly 90 percent of the animals and plants on the island. Unfortunately, many species are now endangered, so it’s a very lucky stumble when we come across one hanging in a tree the next day. It only sticks around for a few minutes before disappearing into the foliage, which is for the best – we don’t exactly have much time to watch the wildlife. By this point we’re a few days behind our goal distance, and it’s impossible to tell if we can make it up. Salvation comes, surprisingly, in the form of bootleggers. The Bark Camp (renamed Rat Camp by the group, thanks to a swarm fit for a horror movie) is a refuge for the collectors of the bark used to make toaka gasy. They get paid around 10 cents for a massive bundle, so it’s a good deal for everyone involved when we give one of them 5,000 ariary – about $2.40 Canadian – to lead us to their smuggling trail in the morning. This isn’t the sort of thing on a map. Unlike our original plan of gently following a contour, it’s basically a straight line from camp to village. All the ups and downs are steep and slippery with mud, but it’s still better than bushwhacking. And considering the bark transporters manage it carrying 70 kg in flip-flops, we can’t complain. When we arrive in the village just a few kilometres from where our rafts are waiting, we’ve gone from days behind to all caught up. We’re as happy to be there as the locals are to have us; in minutes we’re surrounded by a wall of people, eagerly watching as we settle into camp for the night.

The Highlights It’s hard to squeeze every memorable moment into an account of the trip, so here are a few of my favourites: BEST NICKNAME: Manimal, the Unofficial Toughest Porter, who could run up the side of a mountain while carrying a heavy load. BEST MEAL: Dinner of fresh-caught eel, killed with a machete by Manimal, and cooked over a fire. BEST SNACK: Sugar cane, bought in a village and stripped with a knife, then all the sweetness sucked out of it. BEST SONG: A serenade by children from a small village we stopped in as we trekked back to our boats. BEST FRIEND: Brigitte, a four-year-old girl who slipped through a large crowd in order to hold my hand for an hour. BEST GUEST: A lost Chinese geologist (and his four porters) who appeared from the jungle while we were stopped for lunch. He had been following us, he said, for four days. We sent him off with directions. BEST VIEW: The top of Maromokotro, shared with everyone from Secret Compass, and our Malagasy team of porters and guides.

© Stephania-Varalli

THE JUNGLE spring 2014 23




3 7


5 4

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Better your time with this all-in-one solution. Castelli’s Free Tri Itu Suit seamlessly takes you from the water to the road without a thought. The Hydrophobic fabric doesn’t absorb any H2O, allowing you to fly through the water with greater ease. The mesh back, which has been tested in wind tunnels, is optimized for top speeds. And the integrated Kiss Tri seat pad adds comfort on the bike without adding heft in the run. It’s the second skin you’ve been looking for. CASTELLI, Free Tri Itu Suit | $145 |

4- FENIX C40

Ridley combines two of its highly regarded frames into one, creating a unisex bike that will help you soar. This carbon-fibre frame takes on the comfortable and lightweight qualities of the brand’s Excalibur, as well as the sharp-edge design of Ridley’s Damocles. The result? An incredibly stiff yet supremely comfortable frame that can tackle just about any situation. Flex in the flattened seat stay kills vibration, and diamond-shaped tubes strengthen its tube profile. The Fenix C40 will carry you long distances and through the toughest competitions. RIDLEY, Fenix C40 | $2,200 |


Don’t miss a single stroke, pedal or stride. TomTom’s Multi-Sport GPS Watch can go wherever you go as you slay your triathlon. The swim sensor captures speed, distance, laps and strokes; the speed sensor and heart rate monitor lets you see how hard you’re working on the bike; and no extra gear is needed for the watch to track your indoor or outdoor run. It has a super-slim design to fit any wrist, automatically uploads the data to your mobile device using TomTom’s app, and syncs with many popular workout sites. It’s the training friend that never leaves your side. TOMTOM, Multi-Sport GPS Watch | From $200 |


Changing light conditions, be damned! Oakley’s M2 Sunglasses ensure you’re seeing the road as clearly as possible, with the ability to swap performance lenses in mere seconds. Using the brand’s renowned M frame, they feature fluid contours and slick lines for a comfortable and aerodynamic fit. The Plutonite lens filters out 100 percent of UVA/UVB/UVC and harmful blue light up to 400 nm. Even when you’re pouring sweat, these sunglasses stay firmly on, as rubber nose pieces and ear socks made from Unobtainium not only keep them secure, but the grip increases as you perspire. Get the optional Iridium coating to reduce glare and you’ll have the best polarized lenses around. OAKLEY, M2 Sunglasses | $150–$270 |


Regardless if this is your first triathlon or your 50th, you’ll undoubtedly push your body to its limits (and beyond!) as you prepare. These performance tights, available for both men and women, keep your thighs in place and your muscles supported. This means your legs will work that much more smoothly, which will aid recovery and increase injury prevention. And these tights let you do it with the utmost comfort. Bonus: They look hella good and incorporate reflective details so you can train safely at night. HELLY HANSEN, Challenger Performance Tights | $130 |


Don’t think, just run. That’s what these shorts allow you to do. The Phenom for men and Phenomena for women are made from a stretch fabric that allows you to move with freedom. They’re lightweight and dry fast, so they won’t get bogged down with your sweat no matter how hard your body was working during the bike. The side seam hides a zip pocket, and the front drop-in pocket can fit your house key – great for all those long training runs leading up to the big day. MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT CO-OP, Phenom and Phenomena Run Short | $48 | spring 2014 25

Expedition Essentials BY STEPHANIA VARALLI

Do you consider “civilized camping” an oxymoron? Think the wilderness should not come with Wi-Fi? If multi-day backpacking trips are more your speed, check out these latest and greatest finds for the backcountry.

A ROOM WITH A VIEW The Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 tent, launching this spring, was designed with nature’s stunning panoramas in mind. Rather than the traditional set-up of a door on either end, the Optic has openings on two adjacent sides; tie back the vestibule and you’ve got a 180-degree view. It’s slightly larger than a standard two-person tent, so it will easily fit you and your camping buddy, plus any gear. MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR, OPTIC 2.5 | $250 |

WALK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN Take a traditional sleeping bag, add features that make it fit like a garment, and you’ve got the Mobile Mummy 800, a new spring offering from Sierra Designs. How’s this for clever: The hood and shoulders fit like a jacket, zipperless armports let you use your hands with ease, the footbox can be tucked up to allow you to walk around, and the centred front zipper lets you vent from the top or bottom. So you can cook, read and snuggle up without having to climb in and out. Available in two-season or threeseason versions, the 800-fill DriDown insulation is light, compressible and warm, even in damp conditions.SIERRA DESIGNS, Mobile Mummy 800 | $329–$379 |

26 spring 2014

RAINBOW BRIGHT It took three years of development and two patented manufacturing processes to create La Sportiva’s new Trango Cube GTX boots, capable of handling serious mountaineering expeditions (even though they look like they’re having so much fun). The lacing system, using a new “Thermo Tech Injection” method, weighs one-third less than traditional riveted laces, without compromising durability or waterproof integrity. Add a seamless Gore-Tex upper and an exclusive new Vibram sole, and it’s still just 24 ounces for a men’s 9. LA SPORTIVA, Trango Cube GTX | $375 |

NATURAL SELECTION Following last year’s debut of featherweight T-shirts for women, Icebreaker is now offering a 120-gram fabric for men. The Drifter SS Crewe and V are made from 90% premium merino, with 10% nylon for strength. Pair it with the new Rover Shorts for men or Destiny Shorts for women – the woven blends combine the durability and structure of organic cotton with the natural performance benefits of merino. ICEBREAKER, Drifter SS : $99 | Rover : $129 | Destiny : $119 |

EFFORTLESS H2O Instead of pumping yourself into a breathless frenzy, why not use gravity to filter your water? With the Platypus GravityWorks 2L system, you can effortlessly remove bacteria and protozoa at a rate of 1.5 litres per minute. Weighing only 270 grams and ultra-compact, it’s ideal for backcountry use. The Complete Kit includes a bottle for filtering into, while the Bottle Kit’s Universal Adapter connects with a wide range of common brands. PLATYPUS, GravityWorks 2L Water Filter Complete Kit | $109 |

DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT Clear skies can change in an instant, and when you’re out in the middle of nowhere you’ve got to be prepared to soldier on. Do it with comfort in Helly Hansen’s Loke jacket and pant, both fully waterproof and windproof, yet still breathable. New for spring, the set has all the essentials for an adventure: fully seam-sealed, durable water repellency treatment, storm flaps, vents and adjustable cuffs, hood and waist. HELLY HANSEN, Loke Jacket : $120 | Loke Pant : $90 |

THIS IS A KNIFE Part of Victorinox Swiss Army’s Delémont collection, the Rangergrip 61 is ready for a challenge. Featuring 10 basic tools, including a one-hand-operable, 3.9-inch locking blade, it offers everything you need and more for the wilderness. Plus, the ergonomic handle improves safety and performance. VICTORINOX, Rangergrip 61 | $70 |

LIGHTEN THE LOAD MEC’s new EOS expedition pack features some notable redesigns: a slimmer lumbar pad for less bulk and more comfort, a cut-out back channel to improve ventilation, and thinner tubing for the frame that saves weight without compromising functionality. Plus, the lid converts to a waist pack, in case you want to venture out on a shorter hike from base camp. Women should check out the MEC Aurora 75 for a similar ride. MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT CO-OP, EOS 80 | $179 | Aurora 75 | $169 | spring 2014 27



© Shutterbugger


Kids will be kids, right? Unfortunately, kids these days are

Triathlons may be the cure for the current epidemic of overweight, inactive kids. 28 spring 2014

being couch potatoes, and the trend seems to be getting worse. In 1978, only 15 percent of our children were overweight; that number is now at 30 percent, according to Stats Canada. Active Healthy Kids Canada found that the average Canadian kid spends 43 minutes a day being physically active, but 6 hours and 37 minutes in front of a screen. Only 14 percent are playing outside, while 63 percent spend their weekends sitting around. There is a growing concern that this generation of children will be spending their adulthood battling health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle. There’s no magic solution to the problem, but there are options – including getting them on board with the upward trend of triathlons. It’s an ideal option to encourage kids to unplug and play, since the sport combines the classic activities


Info about the Kids of Steel program: To find a SunRype TRi KiDS triathlon in Ontario: Helpful training tips:

of childhood. Triathlon Canada has seen a steady growth with its Kids of Steel program, started over seven years ago, and its template for kids’ triathlons is being adopted around the world. “We have a super-unfit generation of kids and adults, posing a huge community health risk. Triathlons are a perfect way to get our youth moving. They attract participants of all shapes and sizes and offer something for everyone,” says Alan Carlsson, Triathlon Canada talent project manager and Paratriathlon national team coach. “Triathlons are gaining in popularity and becoming a weekend family event where the kids participate on one day and the parents the next. It’s a way to get the whole family involved.” Triathlon had its beginnings in 1920s France, where the race was known as “les trois sports.” Participants did a three-km run and a 12-km bike ride, followed

by a swim of various lengths across the Marne Channel near Chelles. The first modern triathlon was held on Sept. 25, 1974, at Mission Bay in San Diego, California. Canadians began to jump on board after Simon Whitfield brought home the gold at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics – the first time triathlon was recognized officially as an Olympic sport. As more adults are participating, there is a natural trickle-down to children. And even though triathlon has a reputation for intensity, it actually gives kids the opportunity to start at their own pace. The variety also helps reduce some of the repetitive injuries seen in other sports, such as soccer, hockey, tennis or baseball. “Triathlons have three traditional sports that kids love: running, swimming and biking. Part of the appeal is that you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment. Most kids own a bicycle and helmet, running shoes and a bathing suit. That’s all it takes to participate,” said Tara Melville, founder and director of SunRype TRi KiDS Triathlon Series. Melville and her partner started their kids’ triathlon series five years ago after spending years as race directors for adult marathons. SunRype TRi KiDS events are now being held in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta. “Triathlon is a lifestyle sport based on everyday activities, rather than a unique game-specific skill. You can stay active longer as there are less injuries and mental burnout, because triathlon is by nature cross-training,” says Carlsson. While children’s triathlons share some of the features of adult events, there are some basic differences. Skill sets and distances are adjusted according to age. The courses are shorter, there’s more space between the participants, and volunteers help during the transition phases. The focus is on safety first, while encouraging kids to have fun and develop a lifelong passion for fitness. “Age does factor into our event. The younger athletes are encouraged to practise certain skills, for example putting wet feet into socks and fastening their own helmets. The older athletes are encouraged to work toward the distance goals so they feel confident in their race,” said Melville. Kids also need to be psychologically ready for triathlons. Competition can be a turnoff for some kids, so most organizers make their races inclusive and emphasize participation. It’s about building on a child’s natural ability and making physical fitness fun for them. “Ours goals are all achievable. No one gets disqualified, and at the end of the course, everyone feels good. We take the emphasis off competition. It’s about getting them comfortable and building their confidence,” said Melville. For the kids who thrive on competition, Triathlon Canada offers a more diversified program of countrywide competitive races, where youth (13–15) and juniors (16–19) can strive for Olympic gold. Whatever type of triathlon your child chooses, finding a coach and a club is vital. Triathlons are the new kid on the block when it comes to youth sports, and there aren’t any triathlon little leagues. Clubs provide valuable support. “Every province offers triathlon courses for kids. It’s important to find a club with a certified coach. You don’t want the kids to be pushed too far, but you need them to get good coaching and good support,” said Carlsson. Some parents become intimidated at the thought of trying to manage three sports instead of one, but training doesn’t have to be that complicated. Start off with an assessment of your child’s ability and then train in short bouts in each event so your child swims, bikes and runs at least once a week. Swim lessons or going on a bike ride or run with your child are great ways to start training and get your child excited about the event. “We have parents tell us that their child wasn’t into sport but got inspired by participating in our triathlon events. Most can’t wait to do it again, and wanting to do well motivates the kids. They set their own goals and it becomes about competing against themselves rather than with others,” said Melville. “There is a sense of pride at the finish line.” spring 2014 29

© Michel Caron



I’m used to running fast on trails in the White Mountains, but this time was a little different. Rather than going really light, I decided to bring some of my camera gear, and we chose to start late in the day for a Presidential Traverse run. Knowing that the weather was supposed to be good, we hoped for the best possible early-dusk light while still high on the ridge. We got more than we were hoping for and got back to the car well after dark, but with memories of pure natural beauty. Runner: Marie-Pier Royer. – Michel Caron, photographer THE TOOLS: Nikon D7000, 18–55mm F/3.5–5.6G lens, ISO 500, F8, 1/320 second

30 spring 2014



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