this is an amazing bike and trust me I know a thing or two about bikes...I road bike over 100 miles a week and I go mountain biking a ton too...If you've got the cash this is a good bet
"the string is just a guide John, its just a guide, you have to taper so the light can reach the lower branches!"
norcos are great bikes ( i have 2 of them) and many models are reasonably priced, for a decent (not great, but by no means shity) bike you are going to need to spend a grand give or take a few hundred.
norcos has very reasonable prices and i would look at one of them instead of the specialized
I ride a Brodie Hellion and I fucking love it. Made in BC, Canada, I paid about $1300. Decent hardtail, great company... the suspension isn't the best but you can upgrade that later, it'll definitely do ya for what you're looking for. Just no 8 foot drops or anything.
norcos are a bit heavy buy worth it in the long-run especially if u want to get into free-ride, a cheaper heavier bike is much better for getting into this stuff, unless u dont plan on doing much freeride/downhill stye of riding then go with the lighter frame for more day to day riding