AGAIN WITH THE BLUE SKIES! Let me tell you something about our camp. It had all the fixings of a really great spot: flat ground, access to a little stream for water, a small horse stabling area, a fire ring, some stumps cut at seat height for sitting. Really no room to complain; but then again if we didn’t complain, what would we have to talk about? So here is the thing about this spot: it didn’t get any morning sun. As a matter of fact while the rest of the valley basked in the clear morning light and warmed in the sun’s radiance our spot was left in a dark, cold shadow. Isn’t it always something?
We dressed, and as we were preparing to depart a small contingent of hikers passed through our camp, letting out a whoop before entering. The group was comprised of four men from the First Nations. We exchanged greetings and they continued hiking, stopping a couple hundred yards past our camp at a small rise where they gathered. Our path took us towards them and when we arrived the two youngest (they appeared to be around 13 or 14) quit wrestling and sat back against a group of saplings, smiling while vigorously chewing gum. Of the remaining two hikers, one was a man in his late thirties writing in his journal and the other was a 79-year-old badass who had, many years back, lived in this valley. Turns out he was the uncle of the middle aged man and was showing their group the traditional trails and campsites of the area. We had arrived at a monument to the people who had died in Graveyard Valley.
If you search the internet, most sources will tell you that Graveyard Valley is named after a bloody battle between two First Nations tribes, the Tsilhqot’in (Chilcotin) and the St’at’imc (Lillooet). While we stood there, shooting the breeze about the weather, our fat bikes, and the spectacular natural surroundings, the young man told us about his people’s version of what happened in Graveyard Valley. “We have our own story, not the one you will find in Tate’s book. It was this valley that the tribes of our region retreated to as smallpox decimated our people. This valley was a refuge, then one night a man with the plague came to the valley and wiped out the people living here. That is why we call it Graveyard Valley.”
“After this the conversation returned to more mundane matters, like where our day’s route would take us, did they have a sense of if the weather would change, etc. We shook hands and said our goodbyes. They were the only people we would say that day.”
We climbed and descended Elbow Pass, ate lunch at Bear Paw camp and then proceeded to climb Deer Pass.
For the first time we found ourselves ascending in steep timber. The ground was muddy, slick and soft, coupled with the steep pitch you were forced to either punch your toes into the ground as if climbing in hard snow or lay the whole of your footbed on the ground, evenly applying pressure as your searched for traction. Extended periods of foot placement management rapidly depletes spare energy and the crew was pretty tuckered by the time we reached the top of the pass. We took some photos. Checked our rigs. And then let gravity do the work. The descent was INSANE. Guys, friends, pals: if you like bikes and you have the chance, do the descent from Deer Pass to Trigger Lake, DO THE DESCENT FROM DEER PASS TO TRIGGER LAKE. It’s that good, even if you don’t see any deer. Check the photos, see for yourself.