The Backyard Backcountry

Creek corssings and expansive views always add to the adventure, whether that's on the other side of the world or just out the back door. Claire Buchar and Jamie Hill avoid the beaten path and get their shoes wet in their backyard above Squamish.

The Backyard Backcountry Finding Foreign in the Familiar

In the modern age of globalization, of social media feeds saturated with far-flung expeditions, the definition of “adventure” has changed.

A true adventure, we’re told, requires plane rides or elaborate travel plans to places hundreds of miles and thousands of dollars away. To experience something new we need to leave and go someplace, some “elsewhere” where the exotic is lurking to blow our minds.

But what if we don’t have to go anywhere to find fresh views? Claire Buchar, Jaime Hill and I set out on a trip this summer to answer one question: How far off the map can you go in your own backyard?

For jet-setting athletes like Claire and Jaime, the simplicity of an out-the-front-door trip is actually a novelty; for folks who spend their summers balancing hectic schedules of going “elsewhere” for racing and coaching, staying home is a welcome reprieve. And so, with three free days to play with, we sat down and sketched out a rough plan: pedal more than 45 miles and gain 8,600 feet of elevation, pushing into some new-to-us zones. And not once would we be more than an hour’s drive from home.

The journey would launch from my and Jamie’s hometown of Squamish, with a 15-mile round-trip to Elfin Lakes. The next day we would connect a decommissioned logging road to the tip of Indian Arm, a fjord making up the northernmost branch of Burrard Inlet and the Port of Vancouver. Our friends Phil and Liette Mowatt live in a boat-access-only house near the end of Indian Arm, and planned to meet us where the road dead-ended at the ocean. After overnighting with them, we would continue our travels with a boat ride into Vancouver and a Harbour Air floatplane ride to Green Lake, wrapping up the trip with some classic valley trails and ending at Claire’s home in Whistler.

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