Finding your unique “call of the wild” on The Great Trail
Nature can lure us in many ways. We may seek the tranquility of being on our own alongside a gently flowing stream or may feel energized to conquer the obstacle of a swift river or a steep cliff. Contemplative solitude or high-octane adventure – both experiences and everything in between are available along The Great Trail.
For Ricky Forbes, connecting with Canada’s wilderness is typically an adrenaline-fuelled encounter. In his world, nature is powerful and sometimes risky, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, this 32-year-old from Saskatoon has built a career on confronting nature’s challenges head on.
Ricky is one of the hosts of the TV show Tornado Hunters, in which he and his colleagues pursue and record fierce storms throughout North America for six months of the year. He also hosts other outdoors-themed programs and spends much of his time doing every imaginable outdoor activity – from mountain biking and rock climbing to snowmobiling and whitewater kayaking.
Last summer, Ricky took part in one of those rare outdoors activities he had not yet tried – canyoneering, which consists of rappelling down a canyon over waterfalls. The location was just off the Sea to Sky Marine Trail in Squamish, British Columbia – part of a two-and-a-half-week tour sponsored by CLIF Bar and KEEN Canada, partners of The Great Trail. Along the way from Saskatoon to the West Coast, Ricky documented his travels and the diversity of the Trail’s offerings through images, videos and stories posted on Instagram.
“Squamish is a magical place to experience the Trail, which starts right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean,” he says. “As we drank our morning coffee at a spot in downtown Squamish, we could look up and see the mountains of the Tantalus Range, where we would soon be headed. After a quick drive, we reached the edge of the Squamish River, ready to cross it by kayak.”
At every stop along his Trail journey, Ricky connected with local adventurers, journalists and athletes who could help him experience the best that each site had to offer. In Squamish, that local expert was Bradford McArthur, an adventurer, filmmaker and digital media specialist.
“I was very excited when Bradford proposed canyoneering. I had never done it before and it sounded like the type of adrenaline-pumping adventure I love,” Ricky says. “I must admit the prospect was somewhat intimidating, but I knew that Bradford had the know-how to guide me through it.”
Equipped with ropes and harnesses, the two men hiked for two hours up a mountain in Squamish’s Monmouth Canyon area, where they entered a section called the Box Canyon gorge. Once inside the gorge, they climbed down to the creek bottom and rappelled farther downward over the rocky formation’s many waterfalls. The experience had an impact on Ricky that he hadn’t fully expected.
“What drove me was the adventure, the adrenaline side of going over waterfalls, but it gave me so much more,” he recalls.
“The mountains are so vast, and you feel so small. When you get down into those waterbeds and creeks, you look up and see the mountains skyrocketing above you and the sun shining through the massive rainforests hanging over the top. It was deeply moving.”
All his Trail experiences last summer reinforced Ricky’s understanding that The Great Trail offers many powerful ways to interact with nature.
“The Trail is accessible from every part of Canada, and it offers you adventures big and small. There is something for everyone. There’s not much in this world that’s better than being outdoors in Canada and feeling part of something bigger than yourself.”
The Journey is just getting started. Get inspired by 15 one-day, weekend and multi-day itineraries on the Trail across Canada. Visit www.thegreattrail.ca/journeys.