Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Mountains to MTB: Summer/Early Fall :2018

Columbia Icefields from part way up Mt. Wilcox.
We returned back home to the Okanagan Valley early June after 2 months down in Utah/Arizona red rock country. After catching up on some yard work, we hit the outdoors for some hiking/ mountain biking and canoe paddling. Took the TT out to Elison PP in late June before the crazy long weekend in July.  Spent some fun times hiking in the rockies in July and planned a 2 week trip to the Turner Lake chain and back packing in the South Tweedsmuir PP area. Drove all the way to Williams Lake and phoned the float plane base for a time to fly into the lake chain. By this time, the smoke from the many forest fire in the region were making visibility very poor. The float plane charter company said all of their flights were grounded indefinitely so we headed back to Coldstream and planned to go back to the Rockies where the smoke was not so bad. Booked campsites in Banff and Peter Lougheed PP for 2 weeks. The day before leaving, a friend from Canmore said the smoke had closed into the local area making visibility very poor. We cancelled our trip and for the next 3 weeks choked on the smoke from all of the record amount of forest fires.  
Pat looking down on the Okanagan Lake from the top of the Granite MTB trail near Preditor Ridge late June. We are camped at Ellison PP  somewhere down below along the lake. The climb trail takes you up to this point from the lake in less than an hour. Great views, climbs and downhills in this area.

Brought the canoe with us and after portaging the boat and equipment down to the lake, paddle around and swam in the warm waters of the lake. Hardly any one around as school was not out yet.

Pat poseing in front of Twisted Sisters trail after slogging up Stone Free MTB trail, Kalamalka Lake PP.

We head off to the Rockies with the Creekside travel trailer and stay in the Lake Louise overflow area. It is basically just a parking lot but as we are away  most of the day, who cares. Get a shuttle to Lake Louise and get away from the crazy crowds quickly by hiking up to the Fairview lookout and back(40minutes),, then up to Mt Fairview. Just ahead is Saddleback Pass.

There are people around but not too many as it takes more than an hour of steep hiking to get to the bottom of Fairview. Here is Pat striding to the peak which is just a small mountain compared to the others around. Good views of Lake Louise close by and Mt. Aberdeen in the foreground.

Nice view of Mt. Temple across the Paradise valley.

Mt. Victoria at the head of Lake Louise from Fairview. After crossing Saddleback pass, we drop down many switch backs through the Sheol Valley. See no one until bumping into a NP crew doing avalanche cleanup. Finally intersect with the Paradise Valley trail, hang left and hike to a junction, right goes to the parking area on lower Moraine Lake road and left follows a muddy horse trail 4 kms before connecting with the Saddleback Pass trail which takes you back down to Lake Louise. Probably 30km round trip. Very pleasant and few people.

Next hike will take us to Yoho NP. Looking across to the President from Burgess Pass. Wanted to climb Mt Field and one of the routes least favoured by some is starting at a parking area just east of Field on the north side of Hwy #1. It is a long, dull, hike through thick forests before breaking out in the sub alpine near the pass. One trail heads down to Emerald Lake, where the other one bears right and goes to Yoho Pass. We went right.

After a 20 minute hike from Burgess Pass, we get to a large scree slope which leads to the summit of Mt. Field. We head for a rock band on the south end of the ridge and find it too steep to climb. Started traversing steep ground below the rock band to the north and found a less steep scramble up to the peak, which is in the photo. .At the top of this rock band, the hiking becomes manageable.

From the top of the ridge leading to the Mt. Field summit, we can look up the Yoho valley where Takakkaw Falls can be seen in the distance.

Mt. Stephen, to the south across Hwy#1  viewed from Mt. Field

Town of Field and the Kicking Horse river valley from Mt. Field. We started the hike from a parking area (green area),just this side of Field on the north side of the highway.

Emerald Lake and the President from Mt. Field ridge.

Closer look at Mt. Stephens which is a scramble in Kanes book of Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies 

Because of some iffy wet weather, we drive through Canmore and up on the Spray Lake road to the trailhead for Tent Ridge. I have hiked this before but Pat has not been there  so It was a good time to hike it. The Ridge is in the foreground. You hike up directly left from this foto, attain the ridge and traverse almost 360 degrees on top for great views all the way above alpine.

Looking west into the Kananaskis area from Tent Ridge.

Very popular hike as it is not difficult and is fairly close to Calgary(1.5 hours)

Spray Lakes from the ridge. Almost to the end of the ridge which is to the left and then a short steep drop to the valley and back to the trail head.

Nice views of Mt. Assinaboine. We are near one of the trails that heads to the mountain which is from the Mt. Shark helipad. Fabulous back packing from Sunshine village or from the Mt. Shark helipad to Mt. Assinaboine PP.

Todays hike, in the wonderfull sunshine, is from the youth hostel site near Takakkaw Falls, up the Yoho Valley until arriving at Yoho Lake, then west of  Yoho Pass on the Burgess Pass trail, dropping down to Emerald Lake, up to Yoho Pass and back to the trailhead. Easy peasy. 

Yoho Lake

Emerald Lake from a spot near the world famous Burgess shale fossils beds.

Mt. Burgess with Burgess Pass just below it.

Pat looking kinda smaultzy on the upper trail before ariving at Burgess Pass. Saw a few through hikers and some guided groups who were touring the Burgess Shall fossil beds.

Starting to head down to Emerald Lake from Burgess Pass. Met a few hikers doing the circuit from Emerald Lake but none coming from Takakkaw Falls and doing the circuit. Really, not a long hike.

We drop down to Emerald Lake and It is a different world because it is accessable by car. Lots of tourists walking the flat trail around the lake. We hike around the end of the lake and head up to Yoho Pass passing this pretty waterfall coming off the President.

Almost up to Yoho Pass.

Back to Yoho Lake where we were a number of hours before.

Head down the switchbacks to the main Yoho Valley road meeting hikers coming off the Iceline Trail. Nice view of Takakkaw Falls in the afternoon light. Hundreds of tourists hike the 15 minutes to the base of the falls because it is so easy to drive to the trailhead

Looks like good weather and no smoke so we drag the trailer up to the Icefields Visitors Centre and park in the RV parking area. They allow over night parking for $15.00. The main parking area and the RV parking are jammed in the daytime but empty out over night. Great views of the Columbia Icefields from our (camping?) spot.

Views from the walkway to the Icefields Tourist Centre

Todays hike will be up to Wilcox Pass and then up Mt. Wilcox, dropping back down to the valley and heading over to Tangle creek and arriving at Tangle falls on the parkway highway 15km north of the Visitors Centre.

Pass people on the way up to the pass and then we hang left and hike over to the viewpoint above the valley overlooking the Visitors Centre. Mt. Michener and the Wapta Icefields above.

On the way up Mt Wilcox(scramble), we see a few other parties ahead of us as it is a popular scramble but is tough enough to keep your average hiker from venturing up the ridge to the peak.

Mt Athabasca and Mt Andromeda overlooking the Columbia ice fields. The Visiters Centre and the large parking area where our truck and trailer are is that little developed area in the lower left of the photo.

Mt Athabasca.

Nice little lunch spot with a grand view of all the mountains and icefields around.

Looking up the valley on the way to Jasper.

Nice views of the Columbia Icefields and the Wapta Icecap.

Looking down on Wilcox Pass trail and  #93, the Icefilds Parkway on the way down to Lake Louise.

We drop down off Mt Wilcox and head cross country towards Tangle Creek.

See no one else as we drop down into the Tangle Creek drainage.

Looking up at the Sutfield Glacier from the Tangle Creek headwaters.

Sutfield Glacier.

Old log building from another era.

Nice views all the way down to the Sutfield Glacier viewpoint parking area and Tangke Falls. We left a shuttle vehicle here. A very pleasant through hike with no other hikers after we left Wilcox Pass. Highly recommended. 

Todays hike is Ha Ling which is the extremely popular hike just above the pass on the Spray Lakes road coming from Canmore. 

We have been by this place many times but have not hiked it. The trail is good but fairly steep. As usual, parking area was busy with hikers and also MTB riders going down to Banff. We make it up to the saddle overlooking Canmore with the left peak just above us. Make it to the small peak in the forground from the trailhead, in a little over an hour.

Looking down from the left high point onto Canmore and hwy#1 going to Calgary.

As usual, we set a fairly strong pace going up and down for the old farts that we are. Many local endurance athletes use this hike as a kinda training jaunt, sort of a stair master. Super good views of the surrounding area.

Todays hike is up to Rock Bound Lake which is in the Castle Mt. area. Fairly popular as the trail has a gentle grade, is in good shape and the lake is in a nice setting.

See other hikers having lunch by the lake. Castle Mt. when viewed from hwy#1 looks very intimidating with sheer cliffs all along its ridge top. But on this side, or in the middle, is a fairly mellow area.

After a quick steep scramble above Rockbound Lake, we head to the ridge which is in the foreground. Past the ridge, it drops verticaly down to the highway.

Looking back down on the lake and the way we have come up. Smoke is starting to fill the valley. What we don't know at this time is that because of the record fire season, we will see extremely smoky conditions for the next 4 weeks making hiking and biking very difficult no matter where you want to go in BC.

Pass by Tower lake on the way down to the car. One of the high points on the ridge is straight up above the lake just to the right of the rock spire in the foreground.

We were looking for fun days hikes around the Banff area as we were staying at the Tunnel Mt. camp ground. Edith-Cory Pass came up as a popular hike with a variety of terrain. Headed up the trail to Corey Pass which can be seen in the the distant horizon . Fairly steep to begin with but soon was just a pleasant hike over the Pass. No smoke today which made for good photos.  

After lunch at the Pass which is just behind us, it is mostly downhill to the car.

Nice rock spires and scree slopes as we drop down in the Edith valley.

Mt. Louis stands guard over the trail as we descend to the Edith Pass trail.

Thunder clouds start to form as we descend down Edith Pass trail. We hear the crash of the thunder but luckily, we never got any rain on us the whole way back. Definitely a recommended day hike, for us maybe 4 hours for the round trip.

Decided to take a break from hiking and brought out the MTB for some riding on the Canmore Nordic trails. As per usual, we never take any photos because the riding is so much fun so there is no time to take out the camera. 

Pat heading towards Banff on an easy trail before looping back to the right and back to the trailhead on more challenging trails.

After getting back home, the smoke is pretty bad down in the valley so we decide to MTB up at the Silver Star Ski Resort. Lots of downhill bikers using the lifts and others like us, using some of the many cross country biking trails. Pat getting a $10 pass for the day.

Todays ride will be Beowulf which is 35km total of down hill and 1.5 hours uphill.

Because of the long steep climb back up to trailhead, there have been 2 fatalities(heart related) in the last 2 years that the trail has been open. It is fairly easy to drop down to the bottom but there is no easy climb trail to come back up to the village again.

This is where the trail starts to drop continuously until hitting the low spot. Many bikers get to this point and turn around and head back up. We decide to keep going.

We still are dropping after winding down it seems hundreds of switch backs.

After a fun descent down to the bottom of Beowulf in the old growth cedars, we stop for a bit of lunch before crossing the creek and starting the long 1.5 hour trip up to the village.

This is the look out spot where MTB riders can ride from the village and the lookout for great views of the valley around them. The sign says no entry as this is an up track. From this point to the village, there is still some climbing but most of the elevation gained is behind us.

Looks like even though there is still smoke in the air, it is not as bad as a few weeks before so off to Revelstoke we go. End up parking at the McPherson trailhead at the nordic centre.

First ride of the day starts right at the parking lot up Black Forest, a blue trail that for us is difficult as a climb trail because of the roots. It will take us awhile to get used to the big trees and the big gnarly roots that cross the trail everywhere.

Pat ready to tackle the fun downhill of Flowdown. We climbed up Black Forest, then rode above Beaver Lake before picking up Flowdown. There is a 15 minute climb to the high point on Flowdown which is where this photo is taken. From here, it is a total fun descent until the highway. From the bottom of Flowdown, we hung right up Tantrum South then left back on the highway for a short ride back to the Trailer.

Next day, Pat is ready to ride up into Keystone Basin. We shove the bikes into the truck for the long drive along Lake Revelstoke to the Keystone Basin road  north of Revelstoke. After a long 13km drive up a logging road, we get to the trailhead.

We have ridden this once before and the start is tough. This is steeper than it looks and with the roots and rock, makes for a tough ascent for an intermediate rider. Our first ride here a few years ago was in crystal clear air but smoke will make pictures difficult this time. Truly a spectacular alpine area.

We have climbed up the first steep pitch which was probably 1/3 walking the bikes and now onto some flatter riding.

We are going into the basin right centre of the photo, trail hugs the bottom of the scree, then switch backs through the scree slopes to the far right as the trail climbs up to a great view point. Tough riding.

Pat pushing her MTB up a rough, steep section that switch backs up a cliff band.

After climbing up for almost an hour, the trail drops down to the cabin in the Keystone basin.

Making our way back to the trailhead from the Basin through some steep sections of trail.

At the top of the switch backs. Had to walk some of the area just out of the photo. A very tired girl was riding down just in front of us  and just after  her brother, who you can barely make out in the middle of the photo, she crashed on the lower side of the trail going through a rough, rocky section. She was banged up but managed to ride back to trailhead ok. Once we got over this rocky section and onto the green, it was mostly short ups and downs before a fast and rough descent down the part where we had to walk a lot during the start of the trip right from the parking area.

Thought we would try a nice easy hike to break up the MTB riding. Drive up to Mt. Revelstoke NP and start hiking the Eva, Miller, Jade Lakes trail. This is a popular and relatively flat trail that is maybe 20km's from trailhead to Jade Lakes return. Have lunch down at Miller Lake and then go back and from the junction, hang right up a steep trail to the pass overlooking Jade Lakes. Pat is headed in the direction of Jade Pass about another 1/2 hour from where this photo was taken.

Looking back down at Miller Lake and the islands where we had lunch. There was a grizzly warning at the main parking area when we started our hike and we said, yeah, right. Another stale bear warning. On the trail barely 15 minutes from the start, was an enormous, steaming pile of poop that was a gift from a very large grizzly. Lucky we both carry bear spray that is readily available.

Jade Pass is just around the corner from the top, centre of the photo.

Looking down from Jade Pass onto upper Jade Lake.

We thought it might be fun to do a round trip from a small pass to the left of Jade Pass, down to Eva Lake and then back to the trailhead. This is Pat humping it up to the little pass just west of Mt. Williamson.

Stop for a snack after dropping down to the left of the small saddle and started looking for a trail to Eva Lake. Decided to try the round trip hike another time.

One last look at Upper Jade Lake before heading back down to the junction with the Millar Lake trail.

We knew that October was upon us and as we were going up to Smithers for 7 days around the Thanksgiving weekend, one last camping trip to one of the local PP campgrounds was on order. Okanagan Falls Provincial Park(PP) was to be our destination. Got in late thursday evening and met up with friends who were visiting their son. 

Looks like Friday was going to be the best day of the week with plenty of sunshine so we descided to meet up with some MTB buddies and ride 3 Blind Mice, a MTB area near Naramata, north of Penticton on the east side of Okanagan Lake. This is the trailhead and just behind is the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, a popular bike touring route that can be a 1 day or multi day cycle.

We start up Yellow Brick Road, a climb trail that will take us high up above Okanagan Lake in  semi arid, and rocky terrain. This is one of the view points along the way.

Taking a breather on a black trail which has a lot of rock features and steep short drop offs as we make our way down to the trail head.

Make it back to the camp ground with out much blood being spilt on the MTB trails. Meet up with other friends and catch up on the local gossip.So nice and quiet at this CG. Maybe because it is just full of seniors as the kids are all in school.

This is the Okanagan River Canal which flows past our GG. It eventually flows into Vaseaux Lake, then Osoyoos Lake, then crosses the border into Washington. Has very pleasant hiking trails on each side of the canal.

We take a bit of a stroll down the path aways in some cool, wet weather. Later that Saturdat afternoon, Pat is looking for an area to do some of her training in. Drive through OK Falls and then up to an OHV area on Allendale Road and park near a gravel operation. Some locals tell us to take a single track dirt bike trail right up the hill to the right of the main road and from there, we spent almost 2 hours jogging, running and walking until we got back to the truck. Very nice views of the canyon close by.

Friends that we MTB with on Friday came for dinner as well as the other couple who were staying at the CG. The wine flowed and everyone had stories of how smoky the summer was and hopefully, how nice the fall was to be. Wine and beer flowed like raw sewage, or at least that is what my mouth tasted like next day. We finally had an unbroken string of camp fires, something that was impossible for much of the summer because of the total BC ban on camp fires.

Nice Saturday evening around the fire.  Sunday morning was pretty wet so instead of another night, we drove back to Coldstream for the night and left for Smithers which is a 12 hour trip north 1 day later.

After a day back in Coldstream for some meetings, we hitch up the Creekside TT and head up to Smithers to  see our son, his wife and the 2 grandkids. We know there has been bad weather predicted for the interior but we thought that if things got bad, we would stop and wait for the roads to clear. Made it to Cache Creek and saw many ice and snow covered vehicles coming from the north. Talked to a Greyhound driver who had just come down from the north and he said that after Clinton, all the trucks had to chain up because of the 2 climbs up to high points on the road. Road was treacherous. Looked at the weather and it said that after Lac La Hache, roads were bare so we decided to go for it. Climbed the hill out of Clinton to Big Bar and this was the condition of the roads. 1.5 hours of 4x4 driving @ 60km/hr. Towing a TT was not fun. After 100 Mile House, roads were bare.

Spent the night at a Walmart in Quesnel(-7C) and had an uneventful trip to Smithers. Today because of the great weather, we are hiking up from ski area to Crater Lake. This is a popular hike and most of the time we continue up to the peak of Hudsons Bay mountain(8500'), which is that little nubbin at the upper centre of the photo.
This is the area the locals call "the prairie". Lots of marmots can be seen in the summer but they are all asleep cause of the cooler weather and the fact that all of their food source has now been killed by the frost.

The lake In the middle is Crater Lake. Man, even in the summer it can be cold to swim in due to the snow melt.
Nobody around at this time of the year. Cool, but sunny.
Thought of going out onto the ice but at 1", naaaa, I don't think so.
A few more inches and we will bring the skates and have a great "shinny" gameof hockey where a slapshot will go the whole length of the lake. Ice as smooth as glass. 
Start heading back by hiking up the ridge. We used to launch our paragliders from a ridge just behind this photo and land at different spots in town.
The mountains in the horizon look small taken from the cell phone but this is the Howson range and the mountains are rugged and full of glaciers. There is a pass through these peaks that are a short cut to Terrace. Spectacular skiing in the winter. We have hike, skied and MTB the trail to Terrace over the years.

We we told that this MTB area east of Salmon Arm BC, 4 km east of South Canoe off hwy#1, was a good cross country MTB area. It was only a few km's from the main road to trailhead. We will start the climb trail from this parking area.

This is my new Trek Fuel EX 8 27.5" "plus" MTB that only has a few rides in it. Sold my other Trek a week before. Changed out the front chainring from a 32 tooth to a 28 tooth giving me fairly low gearing with the 11-50 cassette on the back.

We climb for a long way on the "DD" climb trail and pop out on a logging road close to the trail head for the downhill trail called "Ravine".
The valley fog is starting to lift but since we are in the tight timber, we  do not get views of the lake and surounding mountains.  Trail is a blue so nothing realy technical but rough with a lot of rocks and roots.
We dropped down for a long way and then took a cross country trail that ended up eventually at a recent clear cut.
Finally some views of Shuswap Lake from half way down. Fog just dissipating in the lower valley.
The downhill trail starts close to where this viewpoint is. The Canoe sawmill is down by the lake. Tom trying to figure where we are on his Trailforks.  We are the only ones around except for a few deer hunters.