10 – 18 August 2013 (Gold Bridge (South Chilcotins), Revelstoke and Rossland, BC) —
We rode the Bike Magazine Trail of the Year this week. It didn’t even make our top three favorite rides of the week. It was a good week.
South Chilcotins, BC – Warner Lake Trail
After way too long on the Hurley, we arrived at Tyax Lodge in the middle of nowhere. It’s a fancy place, but like many places in BC, there are inexpensive camp sites near the lodge (as well at a forest campground down the road).
We relaxed on the lake and saw that they ran a float plane shuttle service out of the lodge. After talking to one of the employees, we signed up to fly stand-by in case they had an opening for us and our bikes.
Because everything was coming up Millhouse, we scored two cheap seats on Monday’s flight along with the owner of Tyax Adventures who was willing to ride with us back to civilization (the South Chilcotins are pure backcountry — and then some). The flight was a non-event so the 1961 DeHavilland Beaver (and I) lived to fly another day.
Safely back on terra firma, we unloaded the plane and began the 44 km ride back to our rig.
The first part of the ride was pure British Colombia “cross-country” — i.e., what the rest of the world calls a goat trail. Something was lost in translation because I did more hiking while riding BC’s XC trails than I did when, well, hiking. And, because it had stormed for the prior two days, everything was super slick. It was a bit of an adventure with the wet roots and rocks, pedal strikes, and deadfall, but finally the trail became a lot more flowy.
Yep, we left the wet roots and rocks for some nice flowy scree fields. Note: There is no such thing as flowy scree fields.
The sky was partly cloudy, which made the humidity bearable. When the sun came out, the trail became otherworldly.
After a while, we got the hang of the conditions, and got after it.
Around every corner, the views were amazing.
The last two hours were amazing even if we were covered in mud and sweat.
We had numerous creek crossings — V went for an unplanned dip in one — but thankfully the two river crossings had bridges given the height of the river.
Revelstoke, BC — Frisby Ridge Trail
From the South Chilcotins, we made our way east to Revelstoke. We were lucky to make it out of the South Chilcotins given that the storms that had drenched the trails had also caused fires (via lightening strikes) on the route out. Thankfully, the air based fire containment team got the fire under control before it blocked the road out (or, more importantly, hit the town that was under mandatory evacuation order).*
* Speaking of fires, the Ketchum/Sun Valley fire in mid-August hit literally every ride we did. Osberg, Mahoney/Greenhorne, and Fox burned badly and are unrideable for the foreseeable future.
We had visited Revy in the winter but struck out due to warm temps that put the snow level below the village. This time, the weather was perfect and we decided to hit a new XC trail that had been built specifically for mountain biking — Frisby Ridge. The trail was amazing — super flowy, buff, with the best views since Crested Butte. It was so good that we stayed overnight at the trailhead and rode it again the next day — literally the first trail this entire trip that we thought it worthwhile to ride twice.
The trial began by climbing through some small meadows.
We then hit the forest, and the single track below tree line was as smooth, well built, and flowy as any trail that I’ve been on. It was unquestionably the most fun that I have had on a bike in a long, long time.
Above tree line, the trail was just as flowy and buff but the views changed to an alpine meadow.
Once we cleared the meadows, we hit the ridgeline and had 360 degree sightlines in every direction. The views were stunning.
The descent was fast and awesome:
Frisby Ridge is stupid good. If you ride a mountain bike, add it to your “ride before I die” list. It’s as good as it gets.
Seven Summits – Rossland, BC
After two days on Frisby Ridge, we had to hit the road to meet up with friends. We headed south to Rossland, BC (about two hours north of Spokane). Our destination was the Seven Summits Trail — Bike Magazine’s 2007 Trail of the Year. The trail starts with the standard BC climb through forest/roots/rocks before you hit the alpine and amazing views.
We made great time up the first climb and were feeling chuffed.
Although not quite as buff as Frisby Ridge, the first sections of the trail climbed well and flowed.
Throughout the first couple of hours, the trails would rise and fall around the various summits.
Making good time, we caught a group that had started before us, and an English guy in the group said we were done climbing. This was in line with a local brochure that said the last 10-15 km were all downhill.
They were both full of shit.
The next two hours entailed a lot more up and down over various ridges.
Given Warner Lake and Frisby Ridge (x2), we were already beat and this unexpected up and down did not help matters. My fatigue led to one of the worst crashes that I’ve had in years as I landed hard on my right side on a bunch of rocks. Thankfully, I didn’t break anything.
Other than the camera.
Hence no pictures of the rest of the ride.
I walked several sections because my confidence was shot, but there’s nothing like some thunder in the high alpine to give you a sense of urgency. A few flashes got us moving, and we arrived back at the parking lot to see a fast group of four that we had leap-frogged five times (four flats plus a broken chain by the fast crowd allowed us to keep up with them).
They shared their beers, and we all shared our stories. We all agreed that we were glad to ride the trail, and I know it’s on everyone’s “must ride list” but it’s not a trail that anyone felt like riding twice. We may not be back to ride the trail any time soon, but we will definitely see those new friends again. The cold beers in the parking lot helped dull the pain from the crash, and the huge laughs we had sitting with them in the parking lot took the pain away.
Exhausted, we all hit the local Italian place specializing in all-you-can-eat spaghetti. After a glass of wine, V and I were asleep by 8pm.