Friday, September 9, 2011
South Chilcotin September Classic!
There aren't many other places I'd rather be riding my bike in September than the South Chilcotins . The evenings are crisp with the years first frost. The morning and evening light is unlike any other time of the year casting long golden shadows. I've been heading there for so many years but it always feels like the first trip. I guess that's one of the reasons it keeps drawing me back. Last week Eric and Dustan joined me to take in one more long ride before Fall really takes it's firm grasp on the mountains. This would mark Eric's one year anniversary of heading into the zone and it would Dustan's first ever Chilcotin epic. I'd been trying to dream up some new routes and get into some unfamiliar corners of the park. One high pass in particular was in the back of my mind. Was is ridable? This was gonna be good!
We decided to take a laid back Friday evening flight into Warner Lake with Tyax Air before the long week-end crowds arrived in the morning. We landed just as the sun was about to set behind the pass.
And we were on our own....
Corn on the cob and fresh pints were on the menu at the local pub.
The evening was filled with beers, snarlers and laughs over the anticipation of a long ride under the starry night.
It was a cold night at the lake. We awoke to a thick layer of frost but full bluebird for our first big day. It didn't take long for the sun to thaw us out. Another ten out of ten sunrise at Warner Lake!
After a fast warm up descent we started making our way up the steep climb to Deer Pass. Big packs and heads down.
From the top of Deer Pass is was clear just how far this mission would be!
The descent down to Tyaughton Creek was as juicy as always!
After a full day out we were on our way up an unfamiliar drainage and looking for a high camp that would set us up nicely for the huge day 2 ahead of us. We found a spot near 2200m that was spectacular! Dustan pulled out the Sambuca and Whiskey that was mysteriously buried in his pack all day. I think I might bring this guy back!
We got an early start to the day and started the big traverse ahead of us.
The big peaks of the Taseko Range were visible. Mount Vic dominated the skyline.
After a couple of hours we were at the head of Little Paradise Valley and ready for out first big descent of the day and below the impressive Relay Mountain.
And I guess we found the boundary of the park?
Around mid day we were now below our days objective. There was faint trail that was spotty to follow.
The Valley was amazing!
Good times at the top of the pass!
I think we found the other border of the park?
I think Dustan was trying to show off his Sumo photo skills?
From the top we were a little unsure of the route. We ran into some local hunters who were familiar with the area and gave us some great tips on how to get down to the valley. The trail below looked amazing!
Dustan Sept Photo.
We shredded the slopes for an hour or so until the trail became very spotty and non existent in some areas. It was clear where we needed to be but if we had to do it off trail it would take hours and we were running out of daylight.
Spruce Lake was where we wanted to be and was visible from the ridge. After a couple of disorientated hours we found the gold and were on our way to a late arrival at camp.
When we arrived at the lake there was a party of sorts taking place with all but one camp spot left for us to set up. Believe it or not these 3 lovely ladies from Clearwater took pity on us and gave us 3 beers along with some world class snacks! Did that really happen?
Another morning in paradise at Spruce Lake!
The next day we awoke early again and made our way up Windy Pass.
We had some spectators for the rip into Eldorado meadows.
And after a long 3 days we were at the top of Lick Creek ready to shred all the way to the truck!
Another great ride with Eric and Dustan was in the memory banks. Dustan snapped this shot of Eric and I reflecting on the ride!
NSMB story Oct 2011: http://www.nsmb.com/4723-late-summer-epic/