Three Day Trips in the Chilcotins – Aug 2 – 4 2008
Photos by Sharon Bader, Lee Lau or Chris Kelly. Words by Sharon Bader. All Rights Reserved
Well. We’re back. Despite me wanting to take a break from the Chilcotins it tends to keep drawing you back. This time we’ve come with more people who have become addicted to the alpine – Dave and Trevor. Two of our skiing buddies from Lillooet (Kevin and Chris) joined us as well! Initially we were going to camp at Spruce Lake Wilderness Adventure‘s guest ranch but since there was a bear in the area ripping apart their fridges we figured it would be better to camp in a more populated area. Fortunately there was still space in the Freiburg Forest Service Campground which was free and right by the lake! So that is were we camped for these three rides. After about a 30 minute drive from the campground we park at the access to Taylor Basin and start to climb. If you are unsure where this area is in BC click here. More information and links are at the bottom of this report if you want more information.
Park here to access Taylor Cabin
On the climb up we were hit by an unexpected thunder storm. We opted to hide out in the trees to wait for the rain to pass as we knew that at higher elevations tree cover got sparse. Many other riders came by and rode through the weather.
At the rather decrepit Taylor cabin a fire was going for those who had to warm up and dry off from this shower! There were probably 30 riders heading up to Taylor meadows today. We didn’t see a lot of them after the cabin since there are so many options in this area.
The palatial Taylor Cabin
Dave brought his 48lb Rocky Mountain RMX-C for this weekend trip! He may have looked pained on the climb, but he was pretty happy on the descents. Lee brought a real XC bike (a RM Element) so he could climb this final push to Taylor Pass, Trevor was also on a pretty heavy bike (a mere 40 lb Knolly Delerium) and he was able to climb most of the climbs! Must have been the Fox 36 Fork.
Dave like a deer in the headlights pushing up the RMX-C
Lee’s choice of the Rocky Mountain Element allowed him to ride this section.
Making our way up to Taylor Pass.
Dropping into Eldorado Basin west of Taylor Pass.
Along this trail descending into Eldorado Basin (known as the High Trail) is an intersection. If you go straight and continue up you go to Windy Pass, if you go down you continue into Eldorado Basin – which is where we went today.
So much single track bound by alpine flowers!
Since these trails are pretty sandy they don’t retain water so despite the rain the trails were not mucky and were actually pretty tacky and fun to ride.
Fortunately what goes up must come down! But then you usually have to climb up again.
Heading up to Lick Creek
Down is good.
These normally dusty sandy trails were super tacky after the afternoon rain! We finished by spinning back to our campsite on forest roads.
Day 2 – Jewel Creek, Gun Creek, Windy Pass
Day two came early and I for one was feeling the 1700m of climbing from the day before. Today we planned to drive to Jewel Creek access to the Gun Creek climb, head up to Windy Pass via Spruce Lake then over to Lick creek. The drive from Tyax to Jewel was pretty far! But for me it was worth the drive to save the legs.
Camp at Freiburg Forest Service Camp Site next to the lake
Heading up the Classic Gun Creek trail you may recall from the Collective movie.
Sharon and Dave climbing through the Gun Creek meadows with the Dickson Range in the background
Dave and I turned around at 1850m about 200m shy of Windy Pass and headed back down Gun Creek trail through the meadows retracing our route. Still a worthy ride. On the drive back to Tyax we saw a pretty big Grizzly beside the road! We didn’t stop to take pictures… The rest of the group continued to climb. Lee continues ….
Finally at Windy Pass after an hour and a half climb from Spruce Lake ~ elev. approx 2100m
This route is marked on the map as the LS Bluffs trail. It goes up the ridge directly south of Windy and tops out at 2350m before dropping a nice 600m back to the Eldorado drainage. It appears to be mostly a horse pack route that I suspect is used mostly by Chilcotin Mountain Holidays which maintains a cabin in the area. We didn’t see a whole lot of horses in the area as we pushed and rode our bikes another 250m up this rather steep slope to the top of the ridge.
Chris on the ridgeline climbing to the top of the Bluffs
Kevin, Lee and Trevor at the top of the Bluffs at about 2350m. The bottom picture shows our path down to Eldorado Meadows – our route will wind down the ridge
There’s really not a whole lot to say about this route. It’s fairly easy to find off the ridgetop and one does not need to get distracted by some hiking trails that wander back and forth along the ridgeline. The way is straight down and winds along the ridgelines like a drunken anaconda in need of a good back massage; then sinuously entering verdant green forest which was also very conveniently demarcated by a swathe of alpine flowers in drunken chiarusco colours. To say that its a stunning descent is to demean the word. It’s really all we could do to close our mouths and not gape at the scenery while mach-schnelling down the scree slopes and the windy singletrack.
In no time at all we were down in the meadows back to the same spot where we were only yesterday. Fortunately the weather was a bit better and the trails had, by now, nicely dried out. We were surprised to see a group of riders in the meadow – they looked rather bleak and worse for wear having had a glorious deathmarch of four days from Taseko Lakes some 60 kms to our west. I was not unhappy to have passed up on the opportunity to also have done such a deathmarch given the doubtful weather of the past week and we pressed on towards the Eldorado Cabin and then to Lick Creek.Our day covered some 2030m of ascent over 40km.
Taking at break at Spruce Lake Wilderness Adventure’s cabin before starting the climb up to the Lick Creek pass
Map of the route
Day 3 – Cinnabar Creek Drainage
Day 3 is sunnier and warm! Finally this system has passed and maybe we won’t have to worry about rain! We climbed up the same route we took on the first day (the High Trail to Taylor Pass) to check out another ride down the Cinnabar creek system.
Chris and Kevin on the climb to Taylor Pass
From Taylor Pass, instead of continuing on the doubletrack of the High Trail towards the Eldorado drainage we turned left on to the Pearson Trail and then went exploring the ridges. We ended up riding about 8km of ridgeline, very little of which was hiking. Stunning 360 degree views all around with not a person in sight. I’m sure the old miners didn’t have bikes in mind when they put in these routes but bless their gnarled hearts in any event.
Lee dropping on to the Pearson Trail.
This route will find you when you’re ready. If you keep your eyes open you will find this jewel among ridgeride. The following pictures are along the ridge.
This route requires some fitness as there is a lot of hike a bike sections. The prize are the views and the baby-butt smooth naturally bermed 900 m descent off the ridgetops down to Tyax Lake at the end of the ride.
We ended this ride with approximately 1400m of ascending over 30kms. It would be possible to bail out earlier if weather comes in by either descents down the S Cinnabar Basin or by the High Trail doubletrack ascending from Gun Lk.
On the ridge at 2100m
Heading into the basin, you can continue on along the ridge in the right background.
The trail did get a bit rugged and we did have to do some route finding.
Our Reward! Trevor on some fast buff singletrack
Day 3 exploration
For more pictures of each day check out:
|| Day 1 – Taylor Pass – Eldorado Basin – Lick Descent || Day 2 – Jewel Creek – Spruce – Windy Pass – LS Bluffs – Lick Creek || Day 3 – Taylor Pass – Camel Pass – Ridgewalk – Cinnabar ||Useful links:
- Trail Ventures Map
- Spruce Lake Wilderness Adventures
- Tyax Air
- A trip planning page
- Link to search for various trips I have done in this area (Taseko – Lorna – Spruce – Tyax – Shulaps areas)
- BC Parks Spruce Lake Protected Area page
- Chilcotin Wilderness Society
- Website for the Chilko Challenge expedition “race”
- Bridge River community page
- For some of you who don’t know what the South Chilcotins mountain biking experience is all about read about Lee’s Chilcotin Wanderings:
Sharon and Lee