“Indeed, you don’t go to Golden because you love Banff.” It’s my favourite line from the latest article on our l’il mountain town, published in today’s Globe & Mail. The piece is on the delight of skiing, biking, and paragliding “the 7,” a trifecta of favoured traditions for many of Golden BC’s more adventurous locals.
I too have always felt a particular fondness for the 7 -- and the local traditions it’s inspired -- not because I actually do any of those things (I don’t), but because we happen to live under it. When the 7 appears each year, it feels a little like my own special beacon, even if only for a few weeks.
And trust me, you don’t have to hike, ski, bike or paraglide the darn thing to enjoy it – just looking at the 7 is cool. Luckily there are many great spots in and around town to get a perfect view, although the rooftop patio at the Rockwater/Whitetooth Bistro downtown and the Golden Golf Club are probably my two favourites.
The 7 itself is now gone for the season. But there's still the rest of the Mount 7 playground to enjoy. All summer long, I see and hear the paragliders (often whooping the glee) overhead our house as they launch themselves off the top of the mountain and sail out over the valley. It looks like an amazing thrill. If I wasn’t such an outdoorsy lite I’d be tempted to try myself.
At least that still leaves hiking and mountain biking. It’s certainly true that Mount 7 is well known for its downhill terrain (apparently it’s amazing, but truthfully I can't comment -- that’s another thing outdoorsy lites like me don’t dare try).
But there’s lots of fun cross country stuff on Mount 7 too. And you don’t have to be an expert to do it. Case in point: I can do a lot of those trails...and have fun doing them. Here’s an interesting point -- according to my mountain biking coach (who, by the way, is awesome), Golden is actually an ideal place for beginner and intermediate mountain bikers. Something about there being a good variety of terrain and trails, and not an excessive amount of roots to mess you up.
Who knew? Golden BC has such a reputation as this gnarly hard core adventure place (which it is), I think it just leads many to assume Golden is only gnarly and hard core (which it’s not).
I’m living proof -- in case anyone needs it. Before we moved to Golden I barely knew how to ride a bike along a river path much less mountain bike up and down single track mountain terrain. And yet here I am. It’s my second year mountain biking. I’ve hit one tree, fallen off two bridges, and had to get off my bike countless times to walk a feature I simply could not do. Luckily, I seem to go slowly enough that I’ve never done more than inflict myself with a nasty looking bruise.
Yes, the trails are challenging for me (outdoorsy lite + beginner + mediocre fitness level = the trails by definition feel challenging).
But are they ever fun!
While I may not be gearing up to do “the 7” anytime soon (maybe one year I’ll try it on skis), I do have my own personal Golden goal -- to accomplish what so many other mountain bikers around here seem to do so nonchalantly: to ride up CBT Mainline before going down (that part I can do).
And the great thing about that sweaty, guaranteed-to-wear-me-out-for-days-afterwards little goal of mine? I don’t have to go to Banff to do it.