Chilcotins 2015 Bikepacking Trip – Part 3

We were not alone out there...

We were not alone out there…

Day 6 – Spruce Lake to Tyax Lodge

Waking up reasonably early we were tempted to eat our oatmeal outside the “rippers'” tents and talk loudly about how we preferred chunky old school tech to modern flow trails, but we were too mature to resort to the eye-for-an-eye thing. Possibly we were also in a kinder gentler mood because we knew we’d be riding 99% of the time on the trail today. πŸ˜‰

Alpine meadow riding...

Alpine meadow riding…

Cruising south along the east side of Spruce Lake we joined up with Gun Meadows Trail and enjoyed some high speed more or less buff alpine meadow riding. We merged onto Gun Creek Trail and kept dropping through forests and meadows on some amazingly fun curvy singeltrack.

Getting duty in the trees...

Getting dusty in the trees…

A lot of the trail is on the softer looser side which you don’t realize when running 3″ tires since they provide just the right amount of float and traction to deal with the trail surface. When I was riding the same trail last year on my 27.5″ x 2.35″ tires I was shocked by how much I sank in and how much that slowed the bike down. Sections that were easy coasting and pumping good times on 29+ required constant pedalling on the skinnier tires.

Bridges - how civilized!

Bridges – how civilized!

My Krampus loves these sort of fast rolling trails and it was the one trail where I could stick with Scott most of the time. 3″ 29er tires roll faster than 2.8″ 27.5″ tires. Mild roughness equalized things and if things got really rough Scott’s full-suspension rig had the advantage.

Excited to be nearing beer...

Excited to be nearing beer…

This trail is so entertaining a couple hours whiz by without you realizing it.

After a good long section of forest singletrack you get into some rough techy double track that’s even faster and at speed just as entertaining with logs and rocks coming at you fast and furious. My cheeks hurt from all the smiling.

An artistic Sherpa shot...

An artistic Sherpa shot…

Eventually you get spit back on a dirt road. It’s still pointed down so you don’t mind, but if you’ve been here before you know that the ride is almost over and the last ~4kms are fairly climby and tough in the mid-day heat. Traffic whizzes by you to remind you that you are back in the world and the dust makes you wish you were already at the bar at Tyax Lodge.

My view for most of the trip...

My view for most of the trip…

I can assure you that first cold $7 beer at the bar was delicious. πŸ™‚ I will warn you not to order the $30 steak at Tyax. It’s a snack sized meal. 😦 The burger is a better choice.

The Tyax campground was full so we grabbed some ice to cool our beer and headed to one of the free campgrounds nearby to relax and pack away our touring gear. I was both very happy to be done and sad that another tour was wrapping up.

Scott making me "sherpa" his Sherpa! ;)

Scott making me “sherpa” his Sherpa! πŸ˜‰

Afterword

It was great to spend some time hanging out with a buddy in such beautiful country. A lot of the riding and all of the hike-a-bike was hard, but we don’t mind an honest effort. Aside from camping at Spruce Lake there really wasn’t anything bad about this trip. The weather was perfect and the bugs were light in most places.

Having said that I don’t see myself going back to the Chilcotins for a longer trip in the next few years.

The bottom line is that hike-a-bike to riding ratio is just too high. Even for someone who doesn’t mind some walking. I think we averaged something like 50% riding/50% HAB on a time basis. That’s probably 25% more HAB than I really want to do.

I’m sure I will be back though for shorter long weekend trips where I’m not eating into my limited holiday time. I’ve got some specific routes to explore, but I can do that in 3 days of riding with less food/gear.

If you’ve never been to the Chilcotins don’t let the HAB discourage you. It’s well worth a major trip and seeing the amazing terrain for the first time takes away much of harshness of the pushing.

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