Tag Archives: British Columbia

Photo Review: Christina Lake, British Columbia

We are a bit out of order here… when Jay was riding the Seven Summits Trail in Rossland, I went to see Christina Lake, just west of Rossland.  The lake’s claim to fame is that it is the warmest lake in Canada.  I really wanted to go swimming in a lake, but it seemed like I might be begging for hypothermia since it wasn’t a particularly warm day and when I dropped Jay off 45 minutes away there were patches of snow on the ground.  Amazingly, the lake was warm enough to swim in (by Sharon standards).  In fact, it felt warmer than the first swim of the season in Phoenix when I jumped in the Holt’s pool at 69 degrees.  After swimming for awhile, I headed up the hill and rode the Kettle Valley rail trail to check out the Cascade Gorge.  Here are some photos from the afternoon.

Christina Lake

Christina Lake

view from bridge on Kettle Valley Rail Trail

trestle bridge on Kettle Valley Rail Trail

cascade gorge, christina lake

Cascade Gorge, British Columbia

bike on Kettle Valley Rail Trail

Rossland, BC Seven summits IMBA epic

Nancy Greene summit

The start of the Seven Summits trail

One of the last places I had the pleasure of riding before heading to Spokane, Washington to catch a flight to Washington, DC, was Rossland, British Columbia. When I read the description of the IMBA Epic Seven Summits ride I knew it was for me. WOW this ride was incredible. I can’t think of a legal mountain bike ride anywhere that spends so much time in the alpine zone.  One of the only downsides of the ride, besides the fact that it eventually ends, is that it is not a loop. I was lucky enough to have Sharon drop me off at the trailhead at the start and pick me up at the end. Check out the full description from  http://www.imba.com/epics/seven-summits-trail-epic.  For a lot of riders this thing will take over seven hours from start to finish (the 3 other riders I saw that day finished in 8 hours), although a fast fit rider could probably form an even longer loop in that time rather than doing it a point to point.  I was very pleased that I knocked it out in a mere 5.5 hours. Finally my fitness is back again.

Jay starting the Seven Summits trail

a picture Sharon snapped of me starting the ride

There is a truly epic amount of up and down along this trail. It doesn’t actually go directly over most of the summits, but it traverses the face of them very high up and very close to the summit. The trail is so named because it gives easy access to 7 different peaks. The first peak, a big one with a very long climb, saw me at timber line trudging through still present snow drifts.

Part of the long climb to the highest point

After a few more sections like this I reached the highest point.

If only the clouds would lift

It was a granny gear crawl up to this point but I was quite pleased that I only ended up walking the snowy bits. The cloud cover was thick, it was cold and thunder was rumbling in the distance and I was less than 5 kilometers in. Boy my feet were cold, should have worn the winter shoes.  I was gasping for air and the first four kilometers took me close to an hour to cover. There was no turning back though and I was lucky that it did eventually warm up and the clouds did go away. Now I can say in hindsight that my fitness has really come back and it was great that I was riding up in the granny gear and not pushing my bike.

The trail surface is quite varied over its 25 kilometer length. Some parts are punctuated by rocks and have a rough feel and others are wide open and fast moving. The whole ride is just one great view after the next. While the clouds made for lousy photos they did add to the top of the world feeling the ride has.

There are quite a few fast fun downhills that traverse the mountain sides and you can carry a lot of speed despite the exposure.

This shot is a seven shot panorama showing the awesome scenery, and fast flowing trail. Its not all this flowing, they throw in some little rock gardens, talus slopes and very tight switchbacks at regular intervals. Although the first huge climb took a full hour, I rapidly picked up speed and actually had a quite fast ride on the whole. The downside was that I didn’t take very many photos. About four and three quarters of an hour in, I ran out of water. This was somewhere in the vicinity of Mount Record. Good thing it’s mostly down from here. In fact, from here down is what makes slogging over all those mountain passes worth it. The Dewdney trail starts at the official end of the Seven Summits and take you to the much more convenient end point along the highway. This section is a screaming fast fun downhill not to be missed. I think its about 5 kilometers long and it takes about 5 minutes; seriously it’s a fast section.

This was a great day on the bike for sure. I know I should have maybe stopped more to take photos, but it was not a clear morning anyway, so those who want more images should check out the various youtube videos found by searching for Seven Summits trail. A couple of them are pretty good.

Nelson, British Columbia Mountain Bike Trails

Nelson, BC
More gnarly British Columbia riding…
Props to the guy (sorry I don’t remember your name if you are reading this) at the Gerick cycle shop. It was very nice to encounter someone so generally stoked about their local trails that they were willing to give me the inside info even before the store was open and they were trying to clean their own bike. He even took the time to let me in the shop and go to the register to sell me a map/guide book. This was a big deal to me because it got me on out on the trail earlier since I didn’t have to wait for them to open up.
Nelson is known for having challenging free ride stuff with big stunts, steeps and rock slabs. (Free ride means that there are manmade stunts and or natural obstacles that are meant to be ridden rather than avoided in addition to typical single track). I experienced a cross section of this with everything up to, but not including, big free ride stunts. I started out by climbing a logging road up and up. Along the way I encountered some other friendly riders near the top that had stopped to pick huckleberries. I stopped and ate a few handfuls. Yum. From here I finished the climb and searched for the route down. I decided to step it up and ride one of the signature trails, Paper Bag. Paper Bag is steep, meandering and littered with huge rock slabs. These slabs are crazy steep with wicked exposure at times. Sometimes you have to climb a short steep slab. The first photo shown below is one of the short steep climbs up a slab. I cleaned the next section shown second down also.

Nelson, BC Paperbag trail

Nelson, BC Paperbag trail

The red line shows the route I took

I felt good about this section since the route I took was the A-line and not a more simplified easy ride around option. The slab shown at the top may be short but its steep enough I had to drop in rather than nose in order to avoid catching a chain ring.

The signature feature is “the dirty crack”. Being out there by myself and not having armor and a full face helmet I thought better of riding this. A fall here would likely mean cartwheeling like a rag doll down the line at best, or the far more likely event of going off the edge and falling 10 -15 feet onto a hard rock.

The dirty crack, Nelson, BC Paperbag trail

Looking straight down at the dirty crack. The line is just to the left of the tree in the center.

Nelson, BC Paperbag trail, the dirty crackAgain notice the tree in the center of the photo, you have to ride behind it (to the left in this image) in order hit the dirty crack. The crack is really a steep slanting rock shelf that is only 24″ wide, has a ton of exposure and a ledge you have to ride off in the center. It would be cool to someday ride this thing.

After finishing Paper Bag I rode along the rail trail and onto a logging road. This took me into the Mountain Station area. There are a ton of trails packed into this little area. Most of them are solidly in the intermediate to expert category. I rode up a logging road, Espresso and a trail called Shasta. From here I accessed the top of the new and much acclaimed Eli trail. This is one of the newest trails in the system. It was faster and more flowing than most of the more freeride oriented trails in the area. I also rode some of the middle and bottom sections of Smiling Buddha. Smiling Buddha has lots of nice wooden stunts. The most memorable being a big ladder bridge that finishes with a teeter totter (which you can see in the video below). Smiling Buddha is a lot of fun because of these interesting features and because they are not too big to be tackled by a competent rider on a hard tail. Technically challenging enough to be a lot fun but not so huge that a full face helmet and armor are absolutely necessary. Here is a link taken from the Nelson cycling club page showing a video of someone else riding the Buddha: http://www.pinkbike.com/video/205544/

Cottonwood Lake

Cottonwood Lake, accessible after kilometer marker 16 from the Great Northern Rail Trail

Sharon rode the Great Northern Rail Trail, an incredibly scenic trail that goes from Nelson out past Cottonwood Lake in one direction and back to kilometer marker, 0 in the other direction.  She rode both ways, covering about 33 kilometers and singing loudly to herself to ward off any potential bears (there were signs about bear activity in the area).

Great Northern Rail Trail, Nelson, BC

One of the beautiful wooden trestles on the rail trail


25th Week in Review: Biking, Rafting, and more Biking!

Kootenay River runners raft on Kicking Horse River

Kootenay River runners raft on Kicking Horse River

After leaving Alberta last week we entered British Columbia through Yoho National Park.  We had the amazing opportunity to raft the Kicking Horse River.  On the recommendation of a visitor center employee, we turned south at Revelstoke and headed through the Western Kootenay region instead of going along the more popular Okanagan valley route.  This route twisted through mountains that turned out to be filled with amazing mountain bike trails.  Jay was in heaven, dropping down rock faces and traversing seven summits in a single day on an IMBA Epic.  I got into it as well, biking five days in a row on both Rail Trails and singletrack.

Jay on the inland ferry from Balfour to Kootenay Bay

Jay on the inland ferry from Balfour to Kootenay Bay

One of the unique features of the Kootenay Bay route is that there are three free ferries that are part of the highway system.  We rode one of the ferries on our way to Nelson.  It was a great opportunity to sight see in Balfour Bay.

Hours volunteered: 0 – we hoped to volunteer in another one of the National Parks in Canada, but Yoho, Glacier, and Mount Revelstoke did not have any volunteer activities for us to get involved with.

States & Provinces: 2, British Columbia: Glacier National Park, Golden, Mount Revelstoke National Park, Revelstoke, Nelson, Rossland; Washington: Kettle Falls, Spokane

Budget: over 

People Visited: Mary Lynn & Frank Hutchinson

Nights under the stars: 6 – Kootenay River Runners camp, Glacier National Park, Nelson city campground, Rossland Lions campground

Best meal:  Burger and Panini at  Flying Steamshovel in Rossland

Best beer: Smelter’s Ash Imperial Stout from Northern Ales Brewery in Kettle Falls, Washington

Photo Review: British Columbia’s eastern National Parks

indian paintbrush at Emerald Lake

indian paintbrush at Emerald Lake


Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park


Wapta Falls at Yoho National Park

Wapta Falls at Yoho National Park


view from Skunk Cabbage Trail in Mount Revelstoke National Park

view from Skunk Cabbage Trail in Mount Revelstoke National Park


Cedar waxwings along the Skunk Cabbage Trail

Cedar waxwings along the Skunk Cabbage Trail


Meeting of the Waters, Glacier National Park

Meeting of the Waters, Glacier National Park


Beautiful flowers along the Meeting of the Waters trail

Beautiful flowers along the Meeting of the Waters trail