Ride Report: A month in BC
My wife and I were lucky enough to have the entire summer off, she is a teacher and I am between jobs, so we decided to take a trip to Alberta and BC. We drove from our place in North Western Ontario to Calgary where we stayed with friends right next to nose hill. These trails are not epic, by any standard, but seeing as we had very few miles on the bikes the hundred meters of climbing was more than enough to make us lowlanders feel like we were in horrible shape. The trails were pretty good for being in the middle of the city.
After Calgary we had a family reunion, used this time to eat and drink too much. Good times.
Then we headed to Jasper and the real riding began. When in Jasper we stayed at the Watipi campground. Not cheap, but nothing is in a national park, the sites were adequate and the showers sucked. The first trail we rode was a short, 24km, out and back that was relatively flat, gaining about 100m, and fairly nontechnical ride.
Great introduction to riding in the Rockies.
The next day we rode Wabasso Lake. This was another short, 12km or so, out and back (it could be a loop using roads or linked to valley of 5 lakes). Not too much climbing, mostly buff single track with a few more technical rocky sections right around the lake.
While the trail was tame for the most, my wife did find some rocks, she thought they looked good, so she decided to taste them.
We took the next day off.
Then we decided to ride Valley of five lakes. This has the same trail head as Wabasso, but this time we rode the 6km from the campsite. This was definitely the first test of our fitness and technical skills. A fair mount of climbing, the first climb was pretty nasty, think as steep as the wall at Albion, but 4 times as long with rocks and roots thrown in too boot. Rideable? Yes. By me? Nope. There are several lakes along the trail, five in total, which were all a emerald green and super cool (of coarse the batteries died in my camera at the start of the ride). We made the mistake of taking a downhill off shoot and ended up hiking some low laying trails (not really possible to bike unless you are Hans Rey). Once back on the actual trail the riding was pretty quick and easy until a couple big climbs right near the end of the trail, long, but quite rideable. Followed by some nice downhills, make sure to sick to the equestrian trail, the hiking trail is too steep to ride down, but watch out for road apples. This trail spits you out into Jasper and we took the roadside trails back to the campground.
Our last day in Jasper we took on the Saturday Night Lake loop. This is a 30km sluggfest. The first 15 starts off with a wicked steep climb, gaining about 140m elevation in the first kilometer. Things get slightly better with, stretches of smooth single track, sections of rocky, rooty hell, short down hills, long uphills. Most of this was rideable, but a light rain was making everything super slick, so we ended up walking a fair bit. The turn around point is about 500 meters higher than the trail head, but it felt like we climbed that about twice. The first 15km took us about an hour. At least there were some nice views along the way.
The next 15km can best be describe as a smooth unrelenting downhill.
There were sections that got a bit hairy, steep, rocky, rooty and long enough to make your forearms and brakes burn. But for the most part it felt like that scene from Return of the Jedi with the speeder bike chase through the woods, without the lasers. We managed the second 15 km in about an hour.
For anyone considering it I definitely recommend Jasper, the trails were great and even though it is a national park it wasn't really busy. Be sure to make a campsite reservation during peak season
From Jasper we headed down the Ice Field highway to Golden BC. But it it late and I will post tomorrow.
When under pressure, your level of performance will sink to your level of preparation.
Must be nice!! Thanks (-8
Please enjoy seeing this terrible collection of me - something wonderful is about to happy.
Even with just this intro post I can see you found some great spots. Looking forward to trip report #2.
Great post with pics - thanks for sharing and can't wait for more!
A quick trip down the Ice Field Parkway, a short hike to the Columbia Ice Fields, a bit more driving, enduring the hoards of tourists at Lake Louise for 30 minutes, some more driving, realizing that we are too tired to make it to Revelstoke today. Welcome to Golden.
We arrive pretty late in the day, so we grab some grub at Taps, the goats cheese melts were awesome. We find a camp site at Sander Lake, great location, right at the Moonraker trail head, great price ($20 a night including firewood and wifi, sweet) and the couple running the place were super friendly.
Over the next few days we ride the snot out of the Moonraker trail system. This is a nice system of well marked single track that are mostly rated intermediate. Some long climbs, but not too steep, some short climbs that got pretty steep. Nice tight trails, some rocky and rooty sections, but nothing too horrible. Amazing views.
The canyon trail follows the edge of a Canyon Creek Canyon, dropping about 200 meters over three kilometers, smooth and fast. We didn't see to many other riders or hikers, but I did have a close encounter with a Mountain Goat, almost a head on collision while ripping down the edge of the canyon. These guys are fast, by the time I stopped and got out a camera he was 50meters down the canyon.
Over a few days we hit every trail in the system and can say that these are some of the best laid out and maintained trails we saw in BC. Thanks Golden Cycling Club.
There are other trails to check out in the area, but we are not big downhillers so we avoided Kicking Horse and Mount Seven.
There are lots of other activities to try out in while in BC, we opted for paragliding. What a rush, not scary at all.
While in Golden we picked up the book "Camp Free in BC", if you are planning on camping in BC and don't need power or showers on site get this book. Form this point we used this book to find good cheap sites.
North of Revelstoke we stayed at Wadley Recreation Site. Good sites, nice and private, cheap, last place we were able to have a campfire, right on the lake (it was cold, but refreshing).
We headed up mountain to the Keystone trailhead, about 2000 m above sea level, this was our first high altitude ride. The parking lot was vacant when we got there, except for the hoards of horse flys.
The trail goes up hill, steeply from the trail head. Nice views and we had time to enjoy them as we were forced to stop a couple times on the first climb to suck wind. Air is thin up here.
Once the initial suffering was over the trail got much better. Check out the sign post, it is for the snowmobiles in winter.
Alpine meadows, glacial streams, rock fields. Lots of fun. The trail climbs and descends, at times tight, but nothing too technical, but some trails forced to to keep a tight line, get off trail and you go down, a long way down.
You know you are at the turn around point when you hit the cabin. A beautiful spot to stop for lunch. Too bad the horse flies are almost as bad as the trailhead.
Time to head home.
My Shepard Berlin chilling out, she loves snow, especially in July.
She did great on all the rides she got to enjoy over the trip.
Keystone is real epic, but it could be enjoyed by anyone with a decent level of fitness. We took about 5 hours, including about an hour for lunch at the cabin, but it could be done quite a bit faster. It is totally worth the side trip if you are in the area.
Time to relax by the lake for the evening.
Off to Whistler.
Space for rent...
Absolutely gorgeous pictures....so jealous . Keep em coming.
Great pictures and storyline so far. Makes me dream of doing a trip out west one of these days!
Welcome to Whistler
We left Revelstoke as the heat started to roll in. We traveled through Kamloops and took the 99 from just north of Cache Creek, take note, this road is not for the faint of heart, tight corners, long steep grades, single lane wooden bridges. Problem was that pulling a trailer, super steep grades and temps that were close to 40 caused the AC in the truck to die, so we were sweating pretty good even before we got to Whistler.
While in Whistler we stayed at the Cal Cheak recreation site about a 15 minute south of the village. These sites were great, we were able to get one right on the river, relatively private, and only 10 bucks a night (the RV lot in Whistler was $57 a night). These are first come first serve, no reservations, but this was the middle of July and there were always sites available (I guess most people need running water). We just made sure to bring lots of drinking water with us.
Our first day in Whistler we decided to take a rest day, driving through the heat the previous day suck the life right out of us, plus it was stupid hot and we were pretty much out of clean clothes.
Day two, we check out the trails around Lost Lake. This is a tight network of trails just east of the village. These trails are mostly rated intermediate, but they do have lots of elevated bridgework (nothing to freaky though only a couple feet high for the most part). Some sections are smooth and buff, other sections littered with rocks and roots. What would you expect? This is Whistler.
From this we used bike lanes to get to Cut Yer Bars and a couple other trails. These trails were way tougher than the Lost Lake system, big rock, hairy drops, lots of fun and a bit of walking. After a couple hours of good riding, the heat really started to get to us, time to call it a day. We head back to camp and use the river to clean up, and damn it was cold, cold enough that by the time you got clean you couldn't feel your legs below the news. Ahh refreshing
We avoided the bike park, other than chilling with a cold drink at the bottom of the hill watching people huck off stuff. We where doing this trip on a budget and renting DH bikes and lift tickets were not priorities with the number of awesome free trails.
Other trails we road included A River Runs Through It, this was a fair bit of fun, make sure to drop your saddle from crosscountry height, a lot of elevated stunts but nothing that was not rideable if you have the nerve and a small amount of coordination. While this was pretty a tough trail it was not very long, but you could loop it all day and have a killer time. After this I jumped on Whip me Snip me to the Rainbow Sproatt Trail to head back to the camp ground. As this trail starts there should be an announcer "Are you ready to climb!!!", the trails goes up, up, up about 350 meters in 5 kilometers, rideable, but due to the heat and the lack of tree cover it was hellish. Once up top of the ridge things flatten out a bit before they start descending at a brake burning pitch losing a lot of elevation, lots of fun, but then you get to climb up again. This happens a couple more times before a final stretch of downhill switch backs that spit you out at Function Junction. I think this trail should be called "Bring an extra set of legs, sucka!" From this point is was a quick 5km bomb down the highway to camp, there was a trail, but I couldn't find it and the highway was faster (I was bagged).
Whistler was a great time, lots of awesome cross country riding around town, cool stuff to check out while not riding. Too bad we were melting most of the time we were there.
From here we took a quick day trip to Vancouver, I hate cities, got some good sushi, spent a few hours in Stanley Park, too hot and muggy to enjoy anything. The thermometer on the truck read 38 as we rolled out of Vancouver at 9pm.
Sorry for the lack of picks, wasn't in a shutter bug mood.
Real time update: My wife got the tooth she chipped in Jasper fixed today, she likes having an intact grill.
Originally Posted by rocks'r'friends
You did 99 with a trailer. wow. Wow. WOW!
We did the Sea to Sky and then just 99 the rest of the way from West Van. to Kamloops last year with a rental Accord and found it to be 'Fist clenching' from Whistler to Lillooet. Wow again.
Great pics and write up. Thank you.
PS. Our trip was in May and we had several warnings about Ticks. Are they done now? or are you regularling checking for the little suckers after rides?
Edit: Oh ya, great chance to see Black Bears up 'close' on this route for us. Probably still licking salt on our trip.
If you happen to see my lungs back there, tell them I've gone on ahead.
Why would you want to save all the fun for the bike when Hwy 99 from Lillooet to Pemberton can offer so much of the same swoopy singletrack excitement, including the elevated wood skinnies. These were jrom early June, the weather can be very changeable along that road.
Day 7 of BCBR stuck to Creekside and used a lot of these same trails and stayed away from any of the Park stuff. They were great. Whistler has an excellent array of XC riding. I was really impressed.
Originally Posted by rocks'r'friends
What an EPIC trip! I'm on the edge of my office chair!
Please enjoy seeing this terrible collection of me - something wonderful is about to happy.
Luckily we had no ticks and only a couple black bears. Lots of deer, elk, mosquitoes and horse flies.
Next stop, Kimberly and Cranbrook
I really wanted to ride Seven Summits in Rossland, but an odd hip injury that I developed in Whistler kept me off the bike for a couple days. Not wanting to risk a real epic journey on a healing hip, we headed for easier pastures in Cranbrook and Kimberly.
We pitched camp at Horseshoe Lake, this is a free campground near Fort Steel. Pretty nice place, no marked sites, not a lot of shade, but quiet with amazing views.
Our first day in the area we rode the trails in the Cranbrook Community Forest. These trails were nice, a couple decent climbs, relatively nontechnical, but other than nice views and a few short sections of trail, nothing to go back for.
The following day we headed to Kimberly, this is a little city with a Bavarian feel know as the "Highest City in Canada" (not just because it sits at 1100 meters). There is a small walking plaza with a couple bike shops, some small cafes and schnitzel shops. Decent enough place to kill some time while waiting for the heat of the day to pass.
The trail system is call the Kimberly Nature Park (topo maps available in town for $5), this is a pretty big network of interconnecting trails from wide double track to some of the tightest trails we saw in BC. While riding in the nature park you will notice there are only two types of trails uphill and downhills, nothing in between.
One particular downhill had our ears popping before we hit the bottom. Unfortunately then we had to climb the 200 meters back up Sunflower Hill (no sunflowers this year, too dry). But the views were worth it.
Dipper Lake Loop, a two and a half hour ride with about 1000 meters of climbing, some steep, some ridiculously steep, some rooty, some rocky, with a bit of smooth thrown in the mix. This was one of the tougher rides we undertook over the summer, real hard work to get there, then you drop most of the hard fought elevation on the first four kilometers, super fun.
Verdict on Cranbrook, don't bother, too many good trails elsewhere to waste time there.
But head to Kimberly, a great, well mapped and marked, fun set of trails.
From here we are heading to Fernie...
A quick stop in Fernie
En route from Cranbrook to Bow Valley we had time for a quick ride in Fernie. We decided to hit up roots and roots extension. Hyperventilation and hyper-extension would have been nice too, but our legs were hurting and it was killer hot, again.
In order to get to the start of Roots we had to ride a few kilometers of logging road, nice warm up. Once the trail starts it was pretty rooty, no surprise there, and climbs at a decent place, but nothing that was too steep. Once you hit the junction of Roots and Hyperventilation the trail takes a downhill turn, and gets pretty fun. Unfortunately, due logging we couldn't find the end bit of roots extension. So we went back and road it all again.
Once again awesome views. Great trails. Could have spent a whole week here, but we only had an afternoon.
After a quick solar shower by the river and a stop at Big Bang Bagels for sandwiches and iced lattes we hit the road for Bow Valley.
Driving the Crow's Nest Pass into Alberta the hot sunny weather that we had enjoyed for most of our trip took a turn for the worst. The temps plummeted and theAfter skies opened up pelting us with massive amounts of hail and rain. Luckily by the time we got to our campground it had stopped. Unluckily, when we had started driving it was 36 and it was now 12, chilly.
The next morning, the weather had gotten a bit worse, 6 degrees and rain, not the type of weather for our planned ride, Jumping Pound and Cox Hill. We ended up taking the day off, checking out Canmore, chilling out and eventually figuring out why the furnace wasn't working in the trailer.
After talking to some locals we were advised not to attempt Jumping Pound until the weather improved significantly (not in the forecast for at least a few days). So we decided to drive up to Banff and ride Lake Minnewanka.
This turned out to be one of funnest rides of the summer. There was one climb of consequence, the trail was just technical enough to keep you on your toes, but nothing even remotely scary. In the first couple kilometers there was a fair bit of traffic (this is a national park) but that thinned out pretty quick. The ride was planned as a 34km out and back, but unfortunately the park warden had closed the trail at the 10km mark due to "animals feeding on carcass" (mmm... carcass). Too bad, this was definitely the best we felt at the 10km mark of any ride.
Andrea has been having a bit of a mental block with bridges since the tooth chipping indecent, but this was one I was not going to encourage her to try.
As we were traveling back to camp the weather turned south again. We decide to end the trip on a high note and pull up stakes and head home a couple days early. We head to Calgary to spend the night at a friends new house, nice, dry, warm, with running water. Little pleasures after a month in a tent trailer.
The next morning we get on the gas and are back in North Bay 72 hours later.
A great trip. I definitely recommend heading west to anyone who can.
Ohhhhhh, love that 3rd shot......looks really cool.......worthy of saving !
Originally Posted by rocks'r'friends
SUCCESS - To be able to spend life in your own way