Friday, July 28, 2017

Bike to Hike: Suffering on San Juan Ridge

This story begins with an email circulated entitled "Type 3 Fun". This email highlighted a trip idea that would be hard, very hard, possibly the hardest. The gist of it was to ride approximately 100km including relentlessly steep logging road, then strap the bikes to our backs and hike in sub alpine terrain. Camp. Hike some more. Eventually hit logging road again, reassemble the bikes, some rapid elevation loss on gravel and ride the 100km home. The response was overwhelming silence. After checking that the internet wasn't broken I came to the realization I may have to tackle this one alone...  Now maybe it was coercion, maybe it was they didn't have time to really dig into the elevation profiles but fortunately for me I was able to convince Blake and Max to join me relatively last minute and off we went. 

High a top the San Juan Ridge lies the elusive Kludahk Trail. The Kludahk Outdoors Club who built and has meticulously maintained the trail and a series of huts isn't as elusive as many may have heard, in fact they want you to enjoy the trail. You can purchase maps, get directions and after a work party become a member and book the cabins for overnight use. Until then they ask that you use the well outfitted cabins only for day use and they welcome you with open doors. Perhaps the hardest part of getting out and enjoying the Kludahk is access, all the trail heads are high up logging roads, with ever changing road conditions, heavy snow in the winter months and high vehicle clearance often a must. 
Just because it's a road doesn't mean its rideable. One of the many push-a-bike sections of the ascent. 80km into day one we went from sea-level to 1100 meters over 20km
Putting the paperboy technique to good use on the steep grades of North Main.
Taking vehicles out of the equation the plan was to complete a 15km section of the trail using bikes as our approach. As the route was a "lollipop" loop the bikes would need to come with us for the hiking leg. Due to the ecologically sensitive nature of the trail and its surroundings, wheeled-vehicles of any type are prohibited and we decided to play by the rules. So for the entire hike leg, bikes were on our backs, a wheel never touched the trail.

Blake and Max contemplating what they have got themselves into over a refreshing Caribou Sports Drink.

The transformation from bike to hike went smoothly despite our lack of pretesting... sometimes it's better not to know.

The stoke was still high for the hiking leg, we were all excited to leave the steep, dusty, gravel grades of the approach behind. The excitement may have been short lived for some, hiking with a bike on your back is no cake walk.

Meadow Cabin.

An evening dip in Raven Lake provided a much needed recharge.

Elevation gain starting to pay off.

Home for the night. Tower Cabin, one of the trails high points at 1100 meters

Sunset from camp did not disappoint.

We woke up to the valley below filled in with fog.

Max and Blake take a moment to pray to the hike-a-bike gods. Perhaps praying for an end in sight?

The Tea Hut was a favourite with the crew. 

The three armed valley.

Bikes as bags taking a break in the woods.

The approach to the Blueberry Hill cabin.

Cabin vibes.

Although I provided a few bail out options at alternate access points, the guys decided to tough it out and stick to the original plan. At some points they may have regretted those decisions.

Gilbert "Lake" and a much needed swim.

Transforming from hike back to bike. Don't think these guys have ever been so excited to see gravel.

Descent from high up the Jordan Mainline. 

All in all an epic journey. It will probably take me a few more weeks to think this is a good idea again, but on the other hand I'm already starting to scheme the next one. Pretty cool to see where a bike, your feet and a bit of creativity can take you.

The Trip Stats:
Day One- Distance: 101.2 km Elevation Gain: 1990 m
Rode Victoria to Maddy's Trail access then hiked to Tower Cabin

Day Two- Distance: 110.1 km Elevation Gain: 1455m
Hiked from Tower Cabin to Gilbert Lake Access, rode back to Victoria.


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