Short Treks on Skate Decks | Paul Kent in the Good, Ugly, and Badlands
Why the Badlands?
One day in early spring 2021, my podcast co-host Josh and I were out taking photos and testing a new type of ultralight backpack. The pack was designed for desert thru-hiking and we did our shoot in Horseshoe Canyon, a Badland park just outside of the town of Drumheller.
During the first part of the pandemic, I returned to filming my skate travels through western Canada, and had toured through the mountains to the west of the Prairies. But while driving through the Badlands on my backpack photo shoot, I thought it was a really interesting and unique part of Alberta.
When Loaded and Pantheon told me they were going to send me one of their sample test boards for the Trip Collab, I told them that I wanted to give the board a proper test run on a week-long test ride. Don at Loaded suggested I film my test ride similarly to how I have been filming my pandemic skate trips through the mountains. Wanting to show something different, I knew there was only one solid option for a local trip, and that was through the Badlands.
The name Badlands comes from French explorers, who described the terrain as mauvaises terres à traverser, which translates literally into “bad lands to cross.” For me, that alone was reason enough to select it for a trip. The deeply cut canyons make for very steep roads, including some that can send skaters over 100 kilometres per hour – a truly terrifying prospect for a spandex clad rider wearing a backpack containing his life savings in camera gear!
On top of that, the region gets super hot and is one of the driest regions in Canada, and bitterly cold nights are common. Along with all that potential fear and suffering, there was also my hopes of getting up close and personal with some amazing dinosaur bone specimens. I’ve been interested in dinosaurs and fossils since I was a kid. When my brother and I were young kids growing up in Eastern Canada, we almost exclusively watched dinosaur documentaries that we had recorded from the TV onto VHS tape. (It was the 80s, what can we say?) We were mystified by this harsh, barren, Badland landscape, and the bizarre monsters that lay underneath its wrinkled sandstone. In many ways this trip is a tribute to my childhood.
I selected a roughly 700km route in southeastern Alberta, starting at Dry Island Buffalo Jump and traveling south to Cypress Hills. Once the board arrived, I took some time off of coaching, packed my bag and left. Badland terrain is not really the best for paved roads, and lengths of tarmac are few and far between. The route took me through whatever stretches of road I could find in the actual Badlands, interconnected by long runs of farmland and little else. One stretch had me riding 140 kilometres with no resupply during one the hottest months on record. Filming myself unsupported meant I also had to collect hours of footage per day, trying to cram in a search to find interesting dinosaur exhibits to showcase, while surrounded by birds (who are basically little dinosaurs). And through all this, I was getting a firm handle on a new skateboard. In other words, the Badlands looked to be a perfect short trek.
The first episode covers the start of the trip, beginning at Dry Island Buffalo Jump. While there isn’t a website for that park, there is great information available about the more famous Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump (a UNESCO World Heritage site). I meet a few mini-dinos, have an unexpected encounter with some undead rodents, and encounter a very steep hill, all while images of dinosaurs dance around my head.
If you would like to explore where you live on a Loaded Pantheon Trip Collab skateboard you best act quickly. These boards are very limited and are selling fast!
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Witness Paul's descent into madness and the Canadian Badlands on YouTube now!