Bikepacking from Calgary to Japan
I believe every one of us have those crazy, seemingly far-fetched dreams stirring inside of our minds. Whether or not we chose to act upon them is a whole other story. It's clear that one of the hardest part in chasing those dreams is centred around taking that first step. For those who are pursuing adventurous, crazy and ambitious goals, it takes a lot of strength to go through with them when so many factors may be holding them back - societal norms, doubts, finances, time lines, jobs, etc. With this in mind, my boyfriend Brandon and I are taking that initial first leap into the unknown by turning our sought after dreams into our reality at the end of April 2017.
We are planning to cycle from our home in Calgary, Alberta up north to the Arctic Circle in the North West Territories. From there we will back track a bit, and head towards Anchorage, Alaska before flying to Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia. After two weeks of exploration and adventure fueled by curiosity, we will take one more quick flight to Magadan on mainland Russia's east coast. After reassembling our bikes, we intend to cycle the infamous “Road of Bones” to Yakutsk, before heading south into Mongolia and China. After many kilometres, hundreds of different camping spots, unpredictable weather, and foreseeable tears and triumphs, we will make way to Japan via a ferry from the coast of China. Reaching Japan, roughly 12,000 kilometres later we plan to work and snowboard for a few months, before planning to cycle and adventure further.
After both Brandon and I recently finished our undergrad degrees we tossed numerous ideas back and forth of what we wanted to do next. We considered simplifying and exploring the option of van-life, looking for property further north, heading to a mountain town, or travelling internationally. After spending the previous summer in Norway and Iceland, the idea of travelling was still picking away at me. We discussed our most sought after locations and ideas of adventure. We thought of thru-hiking, but resolved that biking and camping would allow us to go further and see more, but still at a slow enough pace that we would truly be able to embrace and experience the people, culture and landscapes.
With the idea of biking in mind, we began researching and came across the term “bikepacking” it brought together cycle touring on more dirt tracks with camping. We were pretty much sold from that point on. With these plans slowly taking shape, somewhere along the way, in addition to inspiring stories and books we began to devour, we decidedly wanted to take on an even larger biking expedition.
“Why not bike to Mongolia from Calgary?”
- “Through Russia?”
- “You’re insane… let’s do it!”
“What about Japan, I’ve always wanted to snowboard in Japan.”
-"Yes, and let's keep going after!"
… and as conversation and planning continued our trip grew into what is now this crazy dream and approaching reality.
We have sold nearly all our belongings. Packing up the little we have left. Working our asses off to save every last penny. Applying for multiple visas. Simplifying in essentially every aspect of our lives. Gearing up our bikes and spending all our time on research. But most importantly, gaining excitement with every passing day.
Some days I can hardly wrap my head around the idea as excitement, nerves, inspiration and anticipation takes over me. But while it is easy to romanticize such an experience, the reality of it is that this undertaking will also be incredibly gruelling, both mentally and physically challenging. That being said, we don’t want these doubts and fears to dictate our lives. The most rewarding and memorable times in our lives tend to have been one hell of a journey to get there. When we let fears creep into our lives and continually chose the safest, most comfortable options it can be easy to find ourselves in a stagnant position. I want to continue to live in a way that scares the hell out of me, always pushing me forward, but also gives me the greatest sense of joy, discovery, and wonder for life.
So that is where Brandon and I are at. We depart from Calgary at the end of April 2017.