To FlyBC Paragliding’s founder, Jim Reich, paragliding represents freedom. Not only does it free riders from the restrictions of gravity, it liberates them from the typical inconveniences of flight, such as expensive airplane fuel and restrictive air traffic regulations. Through Reich’s school, he now teaches newbies the sport, as well as other aerial arts such as hang gliding, paramotoring, and flapping your arms until you sort of levitate.
Reich and his instructors, all trained and certified by the Hanggliding and Paragliding Association of Canada, base their training and recreational flights out of a 25-acre training facility. Dubbed Eagle Ranch, the facility features an on-site hill and is nestled between two rivers. Beyond training, the school can outfit students in gear from brands such as Ozone, SkyCountry, and Gin, or lead them on paragliding trips that journey to scenic locales in Mexico.
In the perfect world, Aron Delucry would start his day with snowboarding in the morning, followed by an afternoon of wakeboarding and wakesurfing. At Rider Watersports, he and a team of veteran instructors can at least emulate this dream afternoon, towing water-sport enthusiasts across Green Lake behind a Super Air Nautique 210, a boat outfitted with more than 1,000 pounds of water ballast and a GPS. For newbie wakeboarders and wakesurfers, the team also offers introductory sessions, which cover the basics of boat safety, stance, board control, and how to politely ask seagulls to go fetch your sunglasses.
Great West Fitness & Tennis Club helps its members get or stay in shape with cardio and weight training equipment, a slate of group classes, and both indoor and outdoor tennis facilities. Divided into ladies-only and coed sections, the gym provides options both for the solo exerciser and for those who prefer to bond over mutual sweatiness. The former can build or tone muscles using the club's weightlifting machines and free weights or gaze at mountain vistas through extralarge windows while they trot in place on a bank of treadmills. Classes, led by Great West's certified trainers and instructors, include yoga, boot-camp, Latin-flavoured Zumba, and cycle classes designed to strengthen midsections and enhance apple-slicing skills. You can receive a free fitness assessment administered by a personal trainer or relax in an infrared sauna with complimentary towel service.
Praised by CityVoters as the best course in western Washington, Avalon Golf Links lays out three nines that offer eye-pleasing glimpses of the Skagit Valley below. Though each nine conceals its own unique set of obstacles, every 1 of the 27 holes place golfers amid a picturesque sweep of Northwestern flora, challenging them to bend shots around towering evergreens and send drives screaming against the backdrop of the Olympic and Cascade ranges. The North Nine bookends the toughest stretch on the course in holes four through seven, a rigorous test requiring approaches as steady as the hand of a neurosurgeon playing Operation. Though short in comparison, the West Nine is notable for its tight fairways and frequent East-to-West orientation, yielding panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains. The South Nine punishes poor approaches with challenging greens, where balls frequently run away from their owners when struck too firmly or distracted by a particularly attractive goose egg.
After testing mind and body over 18 holes, Avalon's Sweet Bite Cafe stands at the ready to refuel tuckered-out golfers with breakfast served starting at 7:30 a.m. on weekends and sandwiches served starting at 11 a.m.
Course at a Glance:
Mike Dickson plunks his keyboard as he stares into his work computer. But in his mind, he holds a fly rod and looks out onto a river teeming with steelhead. For someone who grew up fly-fishing—including guiding at a river lodge in Alaska and teaching fly-fishing on the weekend—Dickson couldn't endure more than a year at his office job, which he landed out of college. He shuts down his computer one last time and then joins his fisheries biologist dad, Dennis, at Dickson Flyfishing.
Today, the father-son team guides and teaches fly-fishing to all levels of anglers on the waters of the Olympic Peninsula. Conscious of their environmental impact, the Dicksons lead eco-rafting trips throughout the year on the Skagit, Sauk, and Queets Rivers to fish for steelhead, cutthroat trout, and salmon with scales made of gold. For more adventurous clients, Mike and Dennis guide winter fly-fishing trips for tarpon on the flats of the Caribbean and lead three-day campouts on the Grande Ronde River. Additionally, scenic rafting tours bring visitors up close to wildlife such as eagles. The Dicksons also run a virtual fly shop, where they sell their own line of equipment.