As a long-time friend of Fraser Murray, the CEO of Nimmo Bay Resort and eldest son of founders, Craig and Deborah Murray, I have seen the resort go through many changes. Visiting Nimmo Bay for the first time in the early 1980s, before the intertidal chalets, the massage rooms and yoga classes, I’m not sure I could have envisioned back then, what the business would be like in 2018.
Earlier this year, I got a call from Fraser asking if, from my days in Whistler, I had any professional mountain bike friends that might be interested in helping him to explore the option of adding one more bucket list-type experience to Nimmo Bay’s repertoire. If I wasn’t excited then, as I load all my gear, my wife and newborn son into the helicopter with my good friend Ryan Leech, I sure am now. Ryan, besides being a Norco sponsored rider for 20 years, is also a yoga instructor and a humble superstar, so his fit with Nimmo Bay’s overall experience is a perfect match. Also joining us to capture every moment is Jeremy Koreski, and as a writer and newly professional photographer myself, someone I am excited to observe and aspire to learn from. Shooting for such clients as National Geographic, Patagonia and ESPN to name a few, Koreski is definitely the right choice for a unique adventure sports trip like this.
Helicopters are used at Nimmo Bay to access the remote wilderness of British Columbia, offering one of the most exceptional resort experiences. After we arrive via helicopter at the lodge and settle into our cabins, we meet in the pilot’s briefing room to start planning our day. Looking at the possibilities on the map gives us great perspective of the enormity of what Nimmo Bay has for a backyard to play in. After coming up with a loose itinerary for the day, it’s time to pack West Coast Helicopter’s new B3 with camera gear and mountain bikes. The plan by the end of this trip is twofold: to get a better idea of what terrain is already ridable and to locate an area where we can start building some trails for beginner to intermediate mountain bikers. With those goals in mind, we’re off for an afternoon of exploring.
As it is mid-May and the higher granite-filled mountain ridges are still buried in snow, we start our trip looking for lines to ride in lower elevations and through remote coastal forest. After a couple pristine stops near fishing holes, with no luck for a potential trail, we stumble across a deactivated logging road with a clearing wide enough to land the helicopter and let Ryan get some riding in. Although we all ride, it’s great to have Ryan’s perspective on what is possible, affordable and most importantly, safe. After a snowy mountain peaked stop for some of Nimmo Bay’s freshly made snacks and a little more searching, we decide to call it a day and head back to the resort.
Of all my times at Nimmo Bay, the things that never change are the quality times spent with friends around the floating fire pit, the peace and serenity of the lodge, the quality of the food and the best sleep I’ve had in years. Finishing our day with delicious cocktails on the docks, a seafood feast set for Poseidon himself, and time catching up with Fraser and his family, this trip is no different. Having the chance to reflect on the day, we discuss what we found for rideable terrain, as well as what we’re lacking. Building a new adventure can be challenging as it’s based on clients’ expectations. Although Nimmo Bay consistently exceeds guests’ expectations with their luxurious resort, hospitality and pristine wilderness setting, the challenge lies in finding experiences that can be consistent and therefore marketable. With that in mind, we all go our separate ways to relax and restore for another adventure seeking day tomorrow.
As the sun crests over Mt. Stephens, shedding some morning light upon the resort, my wife and I relax in our seaside Muskoka chairs with a coffee. This morning, I am trying to relax, soak in the surroundings and appreciate the moment, but I am also invigorated to help find a mountain bike experience that the lodge could offer to future guests. After another exquisite breakfast, we head to the helicopter pad to find not only our bikes mounted on one side, but surf gear on the other. Today is going to be a good day.
As much as the goal of finding untouched terrain can be intimidating, there is a definite comfort with the skill of our pilot, Clayton Spizawka, in how he handles the helicopter. Finding places to ride is one thing, being able to land the helicopter to access them, is another. With his existing knowledge of the coast and what we learned the day before, we head north towards Cape Caution and the west coast in search of mountain ridges, and this time, great waves as well. Within the hour, Clayton has us landed safely in a snowy saddle between two enormous granite ridges, not really for the casual rider, but definitely something fun for Ryan. With the ocean in the distance and Belize Inlet in the immediate backdrop, we spend some time filming and shooting Ryan as he shows off his manual skills, front tire in the air, flying down this remote ridge. A great find for the advanced mountain biker, but still not some-thing Nimmo can offer to the majority of their guests. With that thought, and some of the most unique bike film and photos in the bag, we are off to the beach.
Checking the surf earlier that morning, this normal hot spot is a little light today, but my surfing skills don’t necessitate the need for a big break. Settling down on the beach, we have now found a great place for the average biker. With fat tire bikes, this two kilometre long sandy beach with nothing but eagles flying above, quickly reminds us just how special Nimmo Bay is. Finishing another great lunch, some light surfing and a gentle cruise down the beach, we head back towards the lodge feeling pretty stoked about the day and what Nimmo Bay can immediately offer. Fraser, who stayed back at the lodge working while we played, is waiting as we land with a trail idea at a nearby location. Switching gears, and hopping in a boat for a short ride, we hike through forest to the proposed trail location. Hiking through the coastal forest and focusing on the natural fall lines, our day only gets better as Ryan reinforces the potential of Fraser’s find.
Feeling like we had accomplished what we had set out to do, a second seafood feast on the dock was the perfect way to close out another amazing visit. As plans are now underway to start flagging and building the trail this fall, I am excited to return soon to experience their latest adventure. Nimmo Bay’s version of luxurious hospitality, balancing relaxation and adventure, is only going to get better with their new mountain biking option. Now, having checked this one off my bucket list, I can confidently say that this is something everyone should consider.
photos: Jeremy Koreski