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Between the Trees

Savage Films in Squamish

Words by Alex Savage, Pat Foster, and Jeremy Norris. Photos by Jon Anthony. Video by Savage Films.
December 9th, 2013

Squamish offers a varied array of trails. From its manicured groomer-esque Half and Full Nelson trails, to old school rooty, rocky, primarily fall line trails such as Powersmart. This is what makes the town such a renowned area for mountain biking. As with most trails in BC, the logging industry has created roads through the pristine forests to facilitate the cutting and removal of trees. This in turn created access for mountain bikers to explore the terrain and create trails through tireless hours of hard work. The down side to the access created by the original logging is, with the roads and infrastructure already in place, the area is also a perfect place to re-harvest.

Throughout the past two seasons Powersmart and the lower section of Skookum are sprouting colorful patches of flagging tape marking cut boundaries, future skidder roads, and log landing areas. In time, this area will be re-forested and the trails will be, at least temporarily, lost. In recent years, local logging has done an amazing job working with SORCA and trail users to minimize the impact on trails and to fund the re-construction of trails. This trail evolution cycle has become quite common throughout BC, but it can cause anger, frustration, controversy, and is a great topic for debate. Logging helped create the original trail, reforestation will alter the original trail forever.

For our edit this fall we really wanted to capture the look and feel of the Powersmart and Skookum trails in their current state: fast, rooty, rocky, technical. These trails have not received any significant maintenance in the past few years as logging has been expected for some time. Their current state is far from how they began its life, and farther from what it may become once the surrounding trees are removed.

This season we spent many rainy evenings working on a small playground of fresh take offs and landings between patches of lush West Coast foliage. Big jumps though the ferns was the goal while keeping impact on the living forest to a minimum. This new playground, although not physically linked to Powersmart/Skookum, was the final stop for our edit.

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Jeremy Norris.

Did they really spend all of last winter building out in the cold, wet forest? What did they build? How do they decide who hits the gap first? What if you crash? How do you warm up for hitting a new gap?

These are the questions racing through my head as I follow riders Pat Foster and Jeremy Norris to a new destination in the woods they’ve been telling me about for months. As I discovered, these are the same questions they ask each other as they eye up the new jumps. They look much bigger in person; intimidating to someone not used to flying on two wheels. Pat and Jeremy don’t seem worried. They reassure me they can hit each multiple times so I can capture many angles. We start on an old almost forgotten trail high above Squamish quickly descending toward the new awaiting features.

Everything is in place. Pro videographer, pro photographer, two talented riders, big jumps and fast trails. It’s time for the boys to start flying.

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Pat Foster.

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Rigging up in Squamish.

I actually had Jeremy and Pat answer my questions after our shoot. The answers aren’t long winded, but they definitely set the stage:

Did you really spend all of last winter building?
Jeremy: Not all winter, only on the most miserable of days.
Pat: Nope, played in the snow, worked and built in the rain.

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Digging some 26″-specific jumps.

What did you build?
Jeremy: Jumps, 26″ specific.
Pat: Gap jumps. Just like when we were 12, but with more of a focus on aesthetics than the jumps made from pallets and plywood.

Why bother?
Jeremy: December blues.
Pat: Forest beers.

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Highlight of the day?

How do you decide who hits the jump first?
Jeremy: You’ll be angry if it isn’t you.
Pat: First guy that stops just rolling-in.

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Looks good, hit it.

What if you crash?
Jeremy: Rarely afraid of crashing, only afraid of the post-crash hospital visit.
Pat: Not really the plan. Hopefully instincts sort that out, they have had their share of practice.

How do you warm up for hitting a new trail?
Jeremy: Pinning down an old trail first.
Pat: Roll-ins until you commit, then bank on instincts for the first run through.

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Monochrome riders.

Savage Films
Jon Anthony Photography


Another sweet edit from Alex at Savage Films… here’s hoping they build some more this winter.

  • cerealkilla

    Nice homage to Skookum and Powersmart. Maybe these are not the first trails people flock to today as they seek their berms and pump-track features, but they represent important steps in the evolution of our trail system, and remain rewarding destinations for riders that know.
    Forest beers? Don’t you mean post-ride Palm Bays? ;)