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The name’s Mark… Mark BC

My initials are Mark BC. I also live in BC. And I’m going down to BC, Mexico (Baja California) again. I’m going to try Salsipuedes again. No, I’m going to succeed this time! I am much better prepared and most importantly, I am entering from an easier approach with few if any rocky sections to turn me back. I’m excited to get down again. I think some of the areas I’ll be going have never been explored before since the natives lived there a hundred odd years ago. As usual, I’ll try to update my Spot in the evenings, but it may not work sometimes if I am in a deep canyon. The link is to the right. And here is the Baja Nomad Forum post where I talk about it in more detail.


Packrafting / Fatbiking Buntzen Lake

I took my new Pugsley out to Buntzen Lake this weekend. I wanted to try out the bike on the packraft but didn’t want to get salt water over everything, and Buntzen is the closet place you can do that without dealing with whitewater in the North Shore rivers. I paddled down the lake with the bike on the raft, then biked back with the raft on the bike. It worked well. It was in part preparation for my upcoming Mexico trip (I’m going to try Salsipuedes Canyon again), but also it’s just great to get out there and have some fun!

This is a nice area just outside Vancouver. It is a gateway to a lot of very rugged back country terrain. Technically you aren’t allowed to overnight here, but I’m sure if you hike back into the boonies no one would know or care. The issue is the parking gates close at night and you aren’t allowed to park overnight.

I got there after lunch, using up about a third of the charge in my car to get there. I had no heat, to conserve battery, and it was just above freezing. But I was all bundled up. While getting the bike together a BC Hydro truck pulled up and and asked if I was going out overnight. I said, “No, I’m just going up for the day.” “Well you look like you’re going camping”. “No”, I replied, “that’s an inflatable boat on my bike”. Oh cool, well have fun! “Sure,” I said, “the gate closes at 6 right?”. So I had a few hours to go up the lake and back.

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I rode out onto the dock to do the switcheroo. Last time I was here was last winter. It was about the same temperature but blowing hard. It wasn’t pleasant out on the lake that time, especially since I had to paddle back into the wind.

Everyone looks and asks about the bike. That day I had three people ask if the bike is “electric assist”. I’m not sure why. That’s one of the biggest drawbacks to fatbikes, is the attention they attract. It’s fine up here since I love talking to people about all this unusual equipment I have, and to spread the sport. But in certain parts of the world, you really don’t want to attract too much attention.

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It’s a little lop-sided with no one in it.

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Thankfully there were lots of interested people around who were willing to take my picture.

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I had a pleasant 45 minute paddle down to the end of the lake. It was spitting a few snowflakes but didn’t amount to anything. Near the end a headwind picked up but I just hugged the shoreline.

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At my destination, the dock at the other end of the lake. Another guy came down to ask me about it, and asked if it was electric assist.

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No wet feet at all this trip!

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Back up and ready to go. I’d cross that bridge and take a multi-purpose hiking / horseback riding trail back. You aren’t allowed to paddle past the bridge as that leads to the intake for the hydroelectric penstock which goes down to the power station on Indian Arm.

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I took the “Lakeview Trail”, which actually only had about one view of the lake, filtered through the trees. It is fairly steep, going up and down along the ridge back south. It was nice forest and somewhat technical. Despite all the gear, the bike remained nimble; mostly due to the weight on the front being centred as close to the fork and bars as possible. I had the tire pressure too high but that was OK because I wanted to see what would rattle off, having just been put together.

During the ride I noticed that something seemed loose in the pedals. It got worse and worse and finally I decided to take a look. The crank arm bolts were coming loose! I tightened them up no problem but I hope the trail grit that was sticking to the grease doesn’t cause any issues. I’ll spin it really carefully at home to listen for any grinding.

This Gopro mount works pretty well. The others I tried vibrated too much; I’ll have to brace them some more.

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Before I knew it I was crossing the lake on the floating bridge and back by 4:30. They even had a bike wash station beside the parking lot!

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I took off the left pedal and front wheel and threw the bike in the back, and proceeded to drive home heat-less.

All in all, a great time was had by all, and all was me.


My New Surly Pugsley Fatbike Build

In previous posts you will see a Salsa Mukluk fatbike that I took various places, generally cold (snow) or hot (sand in Mexico), and not much in between. My friend Mark in California decided that he wanted a fatbike when he tried it out and had a blast with it on the dunes and beach. He will use it for beach combing down in Baja. I wasn’t too keen on the aluminum frame material of the Mukluk, or the small frame triangle, or the 170 mm rear hub, so I sold it to him and used the proceeds to buy a Surly Pugsley frame only that I am building up right now (almost the same as Cass’ new rig). It has a Shimano Alfine 8 internally geared rear hub, and I would like to use a SON 28 dynamo hub up front for charging the electronics (the solar panel works in a kayak but is less than ideal on a bike…), but the front hub width is 135 mm on fat frames (same as the back on the Pugsley), and that dynamo hub in the 135 mm version is not cheap… so for now I will use my old XT hub.

Below you can see the racks I am using. On the front I made my own out of a 3/8” aluminum rod I bent using a propane torch. Then I drilled a hole in the bottom of each leg to bolt it onto the fork. There isn’t much metal left after this hole, so I fear it may break at some point. Instead, I will try it again but I will curl the bottom of the rod around into a circular eye through which the bolt feeds. That way I am not reducing any material in the rod. You can see how I did this with the rear rack in the last photo.

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I really like this front rack setup. It is very light and simple and allows me to strap larger but lighter items to the side. They nest in against the water bottle holders. On one side goes my rolled up mattress, and on the other goes my sleeping bag. On top I can also put a smaller item, and mount a GoPro camera off the front. The other benefit of this setup is that the weight is as close to the turning radius of the steering tube as possible, which reduces the effort required to turn the handle bars and makes for better handling (basically, take a wooden broom handle and notice how easy it is to spin it along its axis than along its length). That is also the benefit of having the two water bottle holders aimed backwards 45 degrees (besides not sticking out so far); the weight of the water is closer to the steering pivot. The traditional setups with front panniers way out the front of the wheel on their own dedicated racks are not only heavy, but not an ideal weight distribution. They might work for road touring but not for the kind of rough off-road bush thrashing I tend to do which needs nimbler handling. And this setup does work; the Mukluk I used in Mexico last month (see link to my Baja Nomad blog writeup) was also set up this way and it was quite nimble on the steering. I also used a Revelate Designs Harness off the handlebars to hold my Tarptent Moment. It didn’t seem to degrade steering too much.

In the rear I have an OMM front Sherpa rack which perfectly fits the Pugsley offset if you put one leg on the inside and the other on the outside. It is too small to carry panniers without them getting caught in the wheel, so I had to put an additional aluminum rod there as well to provide extra support for the panniers flapping around.

I added some Extrawheel mounting nuts to the back braze-ons. Usually these replace the axle nuts. But this will not work with the Alfine 8 hub on the Pugsley, because it has a solid axle, not hollow with a quick release skewer, and there is not enough thread sticking out the side to add enough spacers to un-offset the offset of the hub and allow for the trailer fork to clear the rear tire symmetrically.

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It is size medium, which in retrospect may be a bit small. I probably should have gotten a large, which also allows for a larger frame bag. I am not too keen on Surly’s new style with the lowered top tube and little triangle gusset at the seat tube. They did this to reduce standover height, to protect your delicate bits if you fall off, but I have never needed it. I’d rather have more frame space.

I found on my Mexico trip that the fat rims and tires felt very sturdy in rough places where I was hauling the bike over tortuous rocks. I’m sure I would have whacked narrower rims out of true in some of those places. So I generally prefer fatbikes for all kind of off-road touring, not just snow and sand. They aren’t the fastest bikes around but on my trips an extra 5% speed on the flats isn’t going to make much of a difference. It’s the rough spots that really add to the time and that is where a fatbike shines.

I have dreamed and measured up my own fatbike frame that I may get a local frame builder to build up for me if I ever get the disposable funds. It would be a symmetrical 135 mm build, not offset like the Pug. Surly uses the 135 mm offset to prevent chain rub on the fat tires when in the lower gears of the rear cassette. But if I run only an internally geared hub then the chain would never be shifting and this would shave off quite a bit of space. The only downside is that you’d be limited to IGH’s and single speed setups, which is not a problem for me because I really dislike using derail-yours on my bushwhacking bikes. Without fail they bend and cause headaches.

This ideal setup could accept even a Surly Lou tire (5”) on the back. The advantage of making it symmetrical in the back is that it is easy to swap out the front and rear wheels, with the symmetrical Surly Moonlander fork I’d be running up front which can accept the largest Surly Bud tire for snowbiking (the true Surley Pugsley fork is offset to allow for swapping with the back, but it will only accept up to a Nate sized tire – 4” or 1 inch narrower. Apparently you can squeeze in a Big Fat Larry but I don’t think there’s much clearance). The other advantage of running symmetrical is that I could swap in more traditional narrow 29” tires (you can’t do this with an offset rim because you don’t get enough dish with the spokes to allow for a strong wheel build – you need a wide rim to allow for offset spoke holes, and a wide rim will not accept a narrower tire). That way I could have one ultimate expedition bike that I could use for any tour, fat or not.

So it seems to be coming together well, and Mark got his fatbike that he loves for beach combing. It all seems to work out in the end…I’ll add more info and photos when it’s actually finished.


Salsipuedes Canyon by Fatbike

Just a quick Note. Tomorrow I go into Mexico and I’ll start my fatbiking trip down the Salsipuedes Canyon. I started a couple forum threads on it so you can read those, I don’t have much time right now. Also you can follow my progress on my Spot GPS page from the link on the right.

http://forums.bajanomad.com/viewthread.php?tid=70746

http://forums.mtbr.com/fat-bikes/salsipuedes-canyon-fatbike-891993.html


Bridge River Recon Part 3 — Chilcotin Mountains Park

The next morning I went into Gold Bridge.

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The east end of Downton Lake at the dam

There is only one store in town, which was closed for restocking. I wanted some gas and apparently the other small town of Bralorne, 10 km up the hill to the south, had some.

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I went up there but there was no one around, so I went back down, having used up some gas unnecessarily. But Bralorne is an interesting little mining / tourism town. Mountain biking is big here.

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Apparently they produce a kg brick every few weeks.

I decided I’d spend a night or two up in Chilcotin Mountains Park above Gun Lake.

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Ready to head out. The insane flies sure helped the motivation to get moving. I saw on the map that the Lick Creek Trail went up into the mountains in a fairly straightforward path.

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I soon discovered that it was a short distance on the map for a reason — it was super steep!

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I pushed and pushed and pushed, huffed and puffed, uttered a few curses, strained and grunted and forced my bike up and over each obstacle. The trail was narrow, rutted, loose, and very steep — I guess that’s why it’s such a highly rated downhill ride. I passed one group of bikers heading down. I asked how far it was — I was barely a quarter of the way up. They were incredulous, as was I.

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Finally near the Lick Creek headwaters it levelled off a bit in this interesting yellow lichen-encrusted forest.

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I set my tent up here. Man, I have to say, that was the second most physically gruelling thing I have done in my life. I pulled my loaded bike up 900 m to 1920 m elevation, but the trail was so unbelievably steep I had to do the last 300 m of the climb twice — once with just my heavy gear, and once again with my bike and remaining gear. So I did 1200 m. I am so glad to have my body back.

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While in my tent eating dinner, I heard a large mammal outside.

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While doing the final packing of my bike next morning, I happened to scan up and this funny-shaped tree stump caught my eye… He didn’t seem to be at all bothered by me. He just watched. Maybe he was following the deer that went by last night. It’s at times like this that I wish I had brought my dedicated wildlife lens, not the mid-telephoto zoom.

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I was packing up in the lower meadow in the centre, and the wolf was watching me from another meadow behind the trees on the very left. Also, you can’t really see it because it’s blown out, but there was a forest fire on the other side of the valley there.

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Another 150 m of climbing was in order for this morning to get over the pass into the next valley.

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I had to take my pedals off, which really helped on the narrow trail. I was back to doing two loads…

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Amazingly, someone even brought a horse up here.

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From whence I came

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Finally, over the pass at 2050 m, looking down into the next valley I would descend a little ways into, then meet up with another trail heading right (east) up and out again over into the Pearson Valley.

I have quite a bit of video of the rest of the ride which I’ll add soon, but right now I have some more pressing things to sort out … details to come.

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My wolf friend was also using this trail.

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It was a shame I had to ride over his tracks but I had to move too.

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The meadows going up over the pass to Pearson Creek were like paradise … except for the man-eating bugs.

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At the time I didn’t appreciate it, because I was being eaten alive, but each of the alpine flowers had a whole community of insects associated with it. This place was like that wonderland you read about in ecology textbooks, with sunshine filtering through colourful meadow flowers, and all the birds and bees associated with them.

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Looking back at another 150 m of climbing to regain the elevation I had lost.

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Finally … lunch at the pass, and High Trail going down Pearson Creek.

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These little flowers have delicate colour patterns on their petals. You just don’t notice all the intricacies going on until you review the macro shots later. That’s a good lesson I think, to stop and smell the flowers in life. There’s lots more going on around you than you may realize.

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Stonecrop

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I had 1000 m of descent ahead of me.

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I passed a couple going up (look closely). They were going to go down Lick Creek trail. They were only up for the day, so much less heavily loaded than I was. Everyone up here is super fit; how else do you get up here?

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One of the more inviting trailheads I’ve come across in my tavels… but I was going down.

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Near the bottom of the hill, after all the mud and dust. That sure was a fun descent, but I screwed up my left thumb for a few weeks from all the braking I was doing. I loaded my bike too heavily; it was not performing as I would have liked. I passed another couple going up for a few days and I couldn’t believe how light their kit was. They had backpacks, and plus it helps to have two people, as much of the gear can be shared.

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I passed through more hot and dry grassy douglas fir stands.

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On the way driving back out, I went by this recent burn.

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All clean after my bath in Mowson Pond.


Bridge River Recon Part 2

Another day, another bike ride…

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I found this guy slithering down at the stream in the morning.

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I set off and soon came upon the first clearing and a deer. It had at least four sucking deer flies, two on its snout. Unfortunately for the deer, they can’t swat them off as easily as we can. Somehow they manage to survive without going crazy though. At least at night the flies go to sleep too. It didn’t take off so there must not be too many hunters up here.

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The road climbed up the north side of the valley. It was really hot in the blazing sun. But I knew that I only had about 400 m of climbing to do and it would only take a few hours so I plodded on. I was mostly pushing my bike.

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Then the character of the road changed. I was at the end of the forestry road and the beginning of the mining access road. It became narrower and more like a quad track, but still passable for a good 4X4 with a short wheelbase. That mountain is on the other side of the river I wanted to cross. I was actually hoping to get up on to the summit of that alpine plateau there, but I’d have to go way up the valley to get to terrain suitable to climb up.

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At the end of the road I found this!

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I’ll take it thanks!

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Here is a better view from the cabin, across the valley. The river is canyon-like here and too dangerous to cross. And there’s no way I’d be able to drag my gear up that slope. So I’d have to go up to the head of the valley where the river is flatter and the sidehill more gentle.

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A hundred meters past the cabin the road ends at a picturesque debris chute (which I didn’t take a picture of).

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The penstemon and lots of other flowers were in bloom. The river is glacier fed and silty and therefore not good for filtering as it would plug up the filter element. And it was cold too. But the little stream in the debris chute was clear and warm, not being glacier fed and tumbling down 500 m over black rocks roasting in the sun. It was warm enough that I could have a comfortable splash-bath.

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There are interesting hoodoos at the top of the debris chute. There are also some lakes above on the alpine plateau. That’s all whitebark pine at the higher levels. It grows thick here.

I decided to use the cabin as a home base to check out the valley. It was soon apparent that I wouldn’t be able to do my trip in the one week I had off, unfortunately. It would just be too hard to pull my bike up the valley. I thought the road went further up. Tomorrow I’d go hike up the valley to assess just how difficult it would be. So I spent the rest of the day R&Ring.

The flies are attracted to the heat so when I made dinner they were swarming all around and afterwards the stove was full of dead fly carcasses. It reminds me of a funny story from treeplanting in Alberta years ago. You’d think that being the foreman would be the best job — you don’t actually have to do any real work. It’s the planters who are out there grunting in the trenches. Well in northern Alberta our foreman whipped around on a quad checking everything out and hauling boxes of trees around. And of course, the horse flies and deer flies are attracted to heat and CO2 … both of which the quad was producing copious amounts of. So whenever he’d pull up he’d have this massive, I mean massive, cloud of horseflies following him and he couldn’t outrun them. It was pretty funny.

Anyhoo, that Thai Satay dinner was one of the best ones I’ve had in a while… everything seems to taste better when you are pushing hard and need the calories. It started to hit me how isolated I was. With the road closure I had the entire valley to myself. I was a good 60 km by road from the closest person, maybe 30 km as the crow flies if there were campers up in South Chilcotins Park to the north-east. It’s easy to write, “I was totally alone”, but a bit different to actually experience it. It wasn’t a bad feeling; just something I don’t often experience except on these little adventures I do. Few people get to experience that kind of isolation; it’s worthwhile to try to get it IMHO.

In the evening I lay down on my Thermarest on the plywood bed and listened to music on my iPhone. As it got dark I looked out the small window to vaguely see some stars poking through the trees. I wondered about what the chances were that those particular photons, merely a handful of the quadrillions of quadrillions produced by that star who knows how many light years away, happened to travel through so many unbelievably many kilometers, over such a long time, all the while ever-expanding and diluting in intensity to the square of the distance travelled, and somehow manage to get through the atmosphere, between the fir trees above the cabin, through the smudgy little window, and into my eyes and onto my retina, just at the moment I was thinking about them and looking. What journey must that be like from the photon’s perspective? Or is there such a thing as a photon’s perspective? Maybe that reality of the starlight making its way to my thoughts via my eyes only existed because my consciousness brought it into existence. If I wasn’t alive to observe it, was there even any starlight there to see? How is the star any different than me, if it’s all just “One”? I think I need to do some Buddhist practising out here on these trips…

And now back to “reality”:

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The next morning (well, more like lunch time) I hiked up the valley. There is a deer trail that is fairly easy to follow. Basically you keep as close to the edge of the river canyon as you can and you’ll find the trail if you lose it. I was encouraged to see that the terrain wasn’t all that difficult, except for a few tricky areas that wouldn’t be too much of a problem.

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The trail alternated between forested areas and open clearings like this.

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In places I would have been able to ride my bike.

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Stonecrop likes the dry areas.

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Looking across to the west side of the valley. That green meadow really is a meadow. It’s like your front lawn.

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The light green areas are the grassy meadows, easy to walk through. But these are interspersed with willow thickets that get up to head height, substantially more difficult to walk through. Not a problem if you’re just walking but pushing a bike would be a bit more of a challenge. But if you took your pedals off and turned your handlebars it should be do-able.

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Looking up to the head of the valley.

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The willow got thicker as I went further up the valley. I went about as far as I felt like going and did some more assessment of the hike up to the alpine. I’d cross the river around here on my packraft and then hike up through the forest at the far end. The willow looked thick, but at least it’s not spiny like devil’s club. The vegetation here is all pretty benign.

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I’d go through the forest and emerge in that meadow at the top left.

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The flies were driving me nuts but I took out my macro lens and managed to pull a few shots off. If I stayed still for more than five seconds they’d attack me.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, I have put together a video montage of my trip up the valley, including some narration from myself.

.. 22-DSC_4607_014 I hiked back down the deer trail to the cabin. One person with a saw and clippers could clear a nice trail up that valley in one day. I was disappointed that I couldn’t do my circuit, but what did I expect? I’d never been here before. This was a good scoping-out trip and if I had two weeks I would have been able to do it. Hopefully in September I might be able to get time off and do it then. Otherwise, next year. Unnamed Valley ..

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The next morning I headed back down.

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I was going to try to get all the way back to the car. That was almost 50 km, with 1300 m of descent and 300 m of climbing.

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Looking back up to the upper Bridge River. There is a big icefield up there.

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At lower elevations I went through these nice grassy park-like lodgepole pine stands.

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Fresh wolf prints were left on my tire tracks from two days before. The grizzly tracks were gone, suggesting that when I saw them they were fresh. I felt like Mantracker, analysing all the tracks I was seeing.

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Looking back up the Bridge River. It was like paradise.

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There’s even some ponderosa pine here, which likes it hot and dry.

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This is western white pine.

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There’s lots of wildlife even up here at these higher elevations.

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At the Bridge River Bridge is this new building which seems to be some kind of a camp. I took refuge from the bugs there and had some peanut butter on mango.

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There were also some more bear tracks here, but this time going my direction so I was coming up behind him. They weren’t very big though.

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Finally I got to Jamie Creek.

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Big steel pipe with 1 inch thick walls.

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I made it back!

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Right across the road was some seepage where I could fill my bottles without filtering.

Here is another video montage of the trip back down, including a demonstration of how to get your bike over a penstock.

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Bridge River Recon, Part 1

Like usual I scrambled to get out Saturday morning, not leaving till after lunch. I really need to get packed up a week beforehand so I can just do a final check the morning of, and go.

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At Pemberton I turned west and headed up the valley bottom to then turn right onto the Hurley Forest Service Road, which is a fairly rough gravel road that leads northwards over the mountains to Gold Bridge.

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Looking back to the thunderstorm that was engulfing Pemberton and areas east. I was worried this might start some forest fires.

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The Pemberton Valley is scenic potato country.

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The Lillooet River goes down the Pemberton Valley, feeding Lillooet Lake before becoming a river again and joining the Fraser River near Chilliwack, via Harrison Lake. It would be an interesting circuit to bikeraft someday.

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The Pemberton Valley as seen from The Hurley.

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Looking back down to the Pemberton Valley with cows in the fields.

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First views of Downton Lake as I descended the other side of The Hurley.

Unfortunately when I got to the Bridge Main going westwards along the lake there were signs saying that the road was closed at km 16.5 due to a run-of-river project under construction.

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Near the run-of-river works, as far as I could go in the car.

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Looking west down Downton Lake, which is actually a reservoir with a dam at its east end.

So I camped in my car at the side of the road a kilometer back. The next morning I spent a couple hours getting my stuff together and noticed that I forgot to pack my morning oatmeal packets! I always manage to forget something. At least this wasn’t critical and I brought excess other food. I finally set off and rode up to the construction site. I immediately met the site safety supervisor who helped me drag my bike under the penstock and up the other side. Here is a video of me riding my bike up to the site and talking like a chipmunk. Unfortunately I didn’t keep the video on as I went under the penstock, which would have been the most interesting part.

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The 300+ year old douglas firs being perfunctorily cleared and thrown at the side of the road to make way for the powerline right of way.

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A better look at the substantial run-of-river project scarring the landscape.

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What all the interest is about: Jamie Creek, which presumably doesn’t have any fish in it.

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Once over the penstock, I was off. And I had the whole place to myself.

The ground and soil was wet from recent rainstorms. There were butterflies lapping it up and I rode through bursts of colour. I didn’t take any photos though since I was tight on time and their colours didn’t show when they were on the ground with closed wings.

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I was stopping every few minutes to eat copious amounts of thimbleberries, which are very sweet and tasty. And there were a few wild raspberries too. Maybe there would be enough berries to make up for my missing breakfast oatmeal.

Here is a GoPro mount on the front fork. It’s a shaky spot but a good view. I’ll have to mount it more sturdily so it doesn’t vibrate.

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Here are some more videos. I know they’re shitty but they give an idea of the terrain.

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Poor little bird with a broken wing. There wasn’t much I could do.

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This is at the end of Downton Lake where it transitions to a delta. This is a small provincial park with lots of wildlife (but no bears this time of year). Boy I sure am skinny, eh. But that little body can do some amazing things…

The road began to climb… and climb. I was not thrilled about having to gain over 300 m and then lose most of it again to come back down to the river (although it’s all about expectations. I was expecting a nice flat leisurely riverside ride).

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On the descent I caught a glimpse of the Bridge River Bridge at 38 km.

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The views opened up to reveal the lush green valley. This is a really beautiful place.

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The tree species diversity here is high. It is in the dry douglas fir zone on the east side of the mountains. And since the valley runs east/west, on the north side of the valley you have plants adapted to heat and dryness, while on the south side you have more shade and moisture adapted species. Here on the valley bottom were some larch on the left, spruce on the right, and big douglas firs in the back right. In the foreground are thimbleberries. About the only tree species missing are hemlock and yellow cypress.

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Crossing the Bridge River. It is raging here.

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The ride immediately got hotter as I was now on the north side of the valley in the blazing sun. I was really low on water and starting to cramp but thankfully there was a stream a half kilometer past the bridge.

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I plodded along and came upon this stash of diesel.

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This is Nichols Creek, which is the valley to the east of the unnamed valley I was going to go up. The bridge over this creek is in rough shape, I don’t know how much longer it will be drivable. That creek is too dangerous to cross without a bridge. And the road is deactivated at this point so if the bridge goes, who knows if it will be replaced.

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I just kept hammering in the heat. The scenery was very beautiful, but I can sometimes tune out where I am if I am doing intense physical activity. Here I had reached my limit and had to take a break to eat some food and drink some water. I was using Nuun electrolyte tablets in my water which seemed to be working and keeping the cramps away.

The flies were really bad. They were both deer flies, which are pretty big and take chunks out of you, and also smaller house fly-like things that, unlike house flies, bite you. I had to pitch my tent to get away from them for half an hour. While lying there looking at the swarm of flies on the screen of my tent, I noticed a deer fly preening his appendages. Then, seconds later, a wasp came by and grabbed him and ate him on the spot, on my tent. It only took a minute to turn that preening deer fly into mince meat.

This is what I ended up doing on any significant ascent:

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I continued on and was concerned about bears. The problem was all these berries at the side of the road where a bear could be hiding, blissfully unaware of my approach until I was on top of him. And the wind was blowing against me, coming down from the mountains from the west, so a bear wouldn’t smell me. Plus the wind was noisy so he wouldn’t hear me either. My bear bell was pretty wimpy, and really more suited for hikers who move much more slowly. I yelled every time I approached a corner.

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I came upon this set of prints from the King of the Valley walking in the opposite direction I was riding, meaning I had already passed him. I’m not sure if he heard me coming and took off or just left the road before I came by. I guess I’ll never know… Luckily we didn’t meet. That was a BIG bear.

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With the road blocked off there was no vehicle traffic. The wheel tracks became highways for wildlife, covered with deer, wolf and bear tracks.

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I stopped to filter water at this idyllic little stream. You can’t really see it in this picture, but the flowers were really pretty.

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My loaded rig.

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I was mostly climbing in elevation, going up the northern side of the valley. This is looking back to where I came from.

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It is a very scenic valley.

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I called it quits for the day, about 5-10 km from the end of the road; I wasn’t quite sure how far it went. I found a nice spot where it levelled off and was near a stream. No worries about blocking traffic here…

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Camp just happened to be at the 52 km mark. I started at 15.5 km that morning, so I did 36.5 km that day. It was a hard ride though, with the heat (30 C +), and altitude (1100 m), and total elevation gain of about 800 m including the little escapade up and down the other side of the valley. Plus I had the weight of all my gear. I was pretty beat and didn’t sleep very well because of that.


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