#CCR – Chilcotins
Words: Brian Goldstone
The #Classic Cycling Routes project is usually about documenting a favourite ride, but if you’ve been lucky enough to visit the South Chilcotins then you know how hard it would be to pick just one. This year we partnered with Tyax Adventures and were invited on one of their hut to hut trips – how could we say no!
An early morning wakeup in Squamish and a casual 3 hour drive over the freshly graded Hurley Road took us to Tyax, where we began rallying for the flight in. Our agenda was to be dropped at Lorna mid-morning and make our way to Bear Paw camp for the first night. Flying in gives the obvious bird’s eye view of the ground and also makes clear just how much ground there is to cover.
After unloading and saying goodbye to the pilot we were soon alone, and the quietness of being the only humans around for miles set in. It was time to throw a leg over the bike and start heading down the trail. Fortunately we could travel light since we’d be staying in the cabins: just spare clothes, food, water and gear for the day. It didn’t take long to settle into the rhythm of the ride. We felt the excitement of wanting to open it up, but also the cautiousness of not wanting to go too hard this far out – not to mention keeping eyes and ears open for a possible grizzly encounter around every corner.
Our route took us from Lorna Lake north along Big Creek Trail towards Graveyard Creek. Early season conditions meant spring run off was still in effect and any thoughts of keeping feet dry for the day quickly disappeared. Kilometres and hours ticked away as we climbed until we finally had a chance to use our big gears, charging the first great section of flowy singletrack.
Our excitement led to a short detour as we blew past the turn for Graveyard, but a short backtrack across a couple of creeks got us back on track. After a quick hike up to Elbow Pass we begin the descent to the Bear Paw cabin. We rolled into camp after 5 or so hours on the bike and were greeted with a warm fire and cold beers in the creek. Settling into camp life came easy, and we exchanged tales of the day with another small group of guests spending the night.
We woke the next morning in the alpine but were far from getting an alpine start. Breakfast was quite leisurely – maybe there was a bit of stalling as we considered the ride ahead. Eventually we rolled out of camp with eyes set on Deer Pass. More delicious singletrack out the door led to the start of the climb up to Deer where we settled into the stereotypical climbing pace of the Chilcotins – ride until it gets to steep, push until it eases off, repeat.
2 hours later we topped out to a spectacular panoramic view of the whole area. Thoughts of exploring the ridges gave way to the temptation of dropping down to the valley bottom and out towards camp at Spruce Lake.
Up again for another non-alpine start and after numerous coffees we headed out for the rip down the classic Gun Creek route. Multiple hours of dreamy singletrack led us to cold drinks on the deck and talk of when will be the next trip.