Much to the disappointment and surprise of some of my climbing and slogging partners, I purchased a mountain bike this summer and have been trying to learn how to throw myself off drops and tight rocky switchbacks. However, the learning process isn’t going so well, as my sense of self-preservation has reduced me to walking most of the trails on the North Shore.
Mountain biking has far more similarities to skiing in comparison to climbing. In biking and skiing, you’re always moving and trying to go down and up the optimal line. However, at least for the type of skiing that I enjoy, I usually fall into soft fluffy powder. On the north shore, the landings options are usually a rock, roots or a tree. With climbing, most pitches usually have one or two crux moves and the rest is fairly easy. The really good climbs are sustained the whole way though. So far in biking, everything feels like hard 5.11 climbing, even that six inch roll-over. Or maybe more like a V5 dyno problem above a poor landing.
Aug 20, 2011
Alex, Maddy, Cam, Mia and I had a great weekend of mountain biking in the South Chilcotins. Over the years, I’ve seen enough photos of people riding bikes in the Chilcotins. Photos that made the biking look like it was just perfect wide bike lanes right through the alpine, with wildflowers on either side. The South Chilcotins are located five hours away from Vancouver and the landscape and climate is significantly different in this drier region of the Coast, which makes for great hiking, biking and skiing. We drove up on Friday night and camped at the Tyax Lodge, just off of Tyaughton Lake.
On Saturday, we continued driving north along the Mud Creek FSR and then onto the Relay Creek Road (4×4 HC). The idea was to bike up the Little Paradise Creek Trail up towards Little Graveyard Pass or something along Davidson Ridge. Alex, who tore his MCL a month ago, thought we could bike most of this route and that it wouldn’t be very technical, perfect for a beginner like me. We found out that day that this area isn’t a paradise for mountain bikes. Most of the trail was too muddy or tracked out by horses to be considered enjoyable biking. There were also sections of marshy terrain and long sections of shrubbery, terrain more suitable for hiking. We reached the alpine meadows between the West and Middle Fork of Paradise Creek and called it a day. After that experience, I wasn’t sure if the Chilcotins were quite as amazing for biking as it’s hyped up to be.
Alex biking along the Relay Creek trail. So far, so good.
We turned south afterwards and headed into Little Paradise Creek. This part was far from mountain biking paradise.
Maddy biking through singletrack, surrounded by wildflowers. Despite what the photo suggests, not all of Paradise Creek looked like this.
Maddy and Alex trying to figure out where the trail goes.
Alex, Maddy, Mia and Cam at our turn-around point, with Relay Mountain in the background.
Cam biking through shin-scrapping shrubberies. I wish I had high socks or shinguards for this painful section.
Riding across creeks and getting our feet wet was a common theme of the trip.
Alex on the “trail” through Little Paradise Creek. We decided that out of all the biking trails in the South Chilcotins, this one might have been the least suitable for biking.
Cold beers after an unsuccessful bike ride into Little Paradise Creek. I don’t think I’ll be coming back here again on a bike, but maybe on foot to visit the Dil-dil Plateau and Mount Vic.
Starry reflection on Tyaughton Lake.
Aug 21, 2011
The next day, we decided to stick to the trails that Alex and Maddy knew would be awesome. We started at the south end of Tyaughton Lake at Hornal Road, biked the High Trail up through the beautiful alpine meadows at the head of Pearson Creek, dropped down into the east fork of Eldorado Creek, turned right onto the north fork of Eldorado Creek, up and over Windy Pass, down amazing singletrack to Spruce Lake, out along the Gun Meadows Trail and finally out along the Gun Creek trail until reaching Gun Creek road. It’s amazing how much terrain one can cover on a mountain bike if the trails are suitable for riding. I think this loop would also make for a great (although long) trail run if you went from the end of the Pearson Creek road and stopped at the Jewel Creek bridge. This was a fantastic bike ride and I can’t wait to get back to the South Chilcotins for another adventure!
It might have been late August, but finally the flowers were in full bloom. Only a month later than normal due to the wet spring and snowy winter.
Maddy biking along the smooth Chilcotin singletrack. The day started with a long climb up the Pearson Creek road.
Maddy and Cam checking the map to figure out where to go.
We still managed to take the wrong trail up steep switchbacks towards Camel Pass. We realized our mistake shortly afterwards.
It was great to see the meadows here. I was here two years ago during a New Year’s ski trip and everything was just white.
Cam and Maddy pushing bikes up towards the pass. I used my trail runners for this trip and quite enjoyed walking with my bike up the hills.
We descended smooth switchbacks down into the east fork of Eldorado and then turned into the expansive meadows surrounding the north fork of Eldorado Creek.
Cam on the hike-a-bike section on the climb up to Windy Pass. Sunshine and a tailwind made the climb very pleasant.
Smiles at the top of Windy Pass. It was actually rather windy up here.
Cam riding the alpine single track on the way down towards Spruce Lake.
Alex biking through the smooth singletrack on the way down to Spruce Lake. This section was actually as smooth and easy as it looks, but there were a few sections in the forest where I walked.
Maddy biking through the fantastic Gun Creek meadows.