Landing in Golden just a few weeks back, i’ve happily lounged into laid-back life, enjoying a quieter, leisurely pace and plenty time to take it all in. Not that this is representative of the true flavour of this seemingly sleep town. Indeed adventure awaits. Although surrounded by the grandness of the Yoho and Glacier National Parks, Golden has ample adventure not far from the centre itself.
For mile munching mountain bike lovers you’ll earn many a smile from a superb network that covers over 100km of riding. Devised by locals, the trails offers a selection of spicy singletrack intertwined with epic vistas. However, depending on your timing of choice, the mass of man-eating mosquitos will be quick to bite, as i’ve found out despite a dousing of Deet.
So what’s to see and do here? What makes Golden sparkle in the Canadian sunshine? As a mountain biker, there’s a profusion of routes to relish – rocks, roots, drops and berms all handcrafted by the enthusiastic locals of the Golden Cycling Club. Dedication to the cause has resulted in an ever increasing web of marked trails that rarely reveal a tar or fire road. To date, the only one i’ve ridden leads you to the awe-inspiring Canyon Creek – a cavernous geological wonder that not many places i’ve ridden can rival. Among my favourites are CBT mainline for it’s ability to crucify my legs and despite sweating, still crack a smile at the summit.
As difficult to say as it is to spell, the newest of tracks might mean more to an Entomologist than the average rider. Hemiptera – meaning a plethora of insects – is a trail name so candid that i’d recommend a full face helmet solely so you can still smile and not get splattered! If i’d actually Googled the next one I may never have made it there to add it to my list. Odonata translates as ‘an order of carnivorous insects’. Thankfully the continual roller coast of a ride temporarily abates the insane itching.
Whilst there’s not an obvious array of natural trail running routes from the doorstep, the twisty nature of the forest lends itself perfectly to weaving in and out, or up and down. Ridden as part of the Golden24, Mount Shadows trails offer up an exciting line choice – so for those not keen for black on the bike, the same trails double up as a technical treat for trail running feet! Normally i’m not one for studying the birds and the bees, but there’s a fluorescent magic to nature here; the colours of the trees are wild and acidic.
No one can visit Golden and miss the mass of river water flowing through the centre. The Kicking Horse – named after James Hector, a British explorer. His legend tells the tale of being kicked in the face by his packhorse whilst crossing this feisty feast of water. Hector recovered and duly titled the river after his belligerent companion! Wild and wilful, after taking a trip with the team at Alpine Rafting, it’s a thrilling and soggy affair that’s not without some hard work and dedicated paddling to get you to the end. Raft gobbling rapids including Hopie’s Hole and Portage Shotgun, which had us saturated but insanely cheering; class 4 is the standard on this powerful river. As it’s glacial fed, the hotter the sun, the higher the flow and the more fruitful the ride!
For a more independent taste of river life, I was tempted on to the SUP trip along the Beaverfoot River to Wapta Falls. My previous and limited experience on a stand up paddle board extends to flat water, so I intrepidly took the chance to test my balance and judgment with some flow. Standing up first time, my confidence was high until we reach the mess of fallen trees on the river! Not for the faint hearted or lily livered, this was a pretty turbulent test. Over ambitiously, I took a small rapid on a corner and pinned myself neatly into the on-coming tree branch. Composing myself, I managed to free my leash and get back aboard to meet the team upstream. A snack stop at the head of the falls was both peaceful and incredilby beautiful; like our own personal outback looking on to Chancellor Peak. Back on the boards, we hike-a-SUP’d through the tangled trees to get to a view point deserved only by those that like true adventure.
Onto the Kicking Horse and the chilly water picked up pace and led us back to the finish – a massive grin on my face by the end and just thankful I held onto my camera to commemorate the feat!
More adventures to come… i’ve only scratched the surface of Golden’s adventurous charm!