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Measuring Stoke

Measuring Stoke

In the world of adventure sports, there are three things that measure stoke; grade/difficulty, location and with whom you travel. Dependent on a variety of reasons, people rank these by importance in completely different orders. Maybe having less of one, means you have more of another. Or, having none of one might even amplify the other two. Or, if you’re really really lucky, you have a bounty of all three! Let’s explore what these really mean.


1. Grade/Difficulty

This one is simple, how hard is the task at hand? Are you hiking the Rideau trail, descending double black diamonds or climbing an overhung 5.10c? Assuming you’re capable of the grade, all are fun! 


2. Location

As lovers of the outdoors, the locations in which we choose to recreate are generally wild spaces. Trails, crags, lakes, peaks, valleys and campsites. These are inspiring, beautiful spaces that keep us wanting more when we’re back in the office, putting in time before out next adventure. Of course, not all are created equally but each give us a different high. A quick hike after work in the local conservation area is great and might be all you need on a given day. But, sometimes we dig deeper striving to bag multiple peaks over the course of a week long “vacation.”


3. People

Some are lone wolves, some like to share every outdoor experience. Neither is the right answer and neither is wrong. Sometimes it’s great to sit alone by the riverside, giving yourself time to journal. Sometimes a Friday night group ride at your local mountain bike club is what provides the mega stoke. A healthy dose of both is probably the right answer over time. 


So, with these, not-so-Webster-dictionary definitions of the elements of stoke, how do you rank your outdoor adventures? How eager are you to crush difficult grades? If you’re pumping your fist in the air right now, you rank grade first, location second and the people third because you just want to get out there no matter who is willing to come along! Or, maybe you’re a point in your life where conversation on a mellow snowshoe trail is more important than where you are and where you’re going! Most likely, depending on how much time you have, the season and the access to terrain you have you’ll rank these differently every time you go out.


Whatever the case, whether you are ranking these 1/2/3, 2/3/1, 3/2/1, 2/3/0, you’re definitely living and doing it right! Stay stoked my friends.


Written by Rob Whelan

Local photographer, adventurer, and dad.

Check out his photography work here!