In early September of 2015 we spent four days riding/pushing/pulling/carrying/dragging/shoving/sliding/portaging our bikes over a series of arduously steep passes in British Columbia’s Chilcotin Range. If you look at the place on the internet (for example, on Mythical State Of) it is Nat Geo pretty. It’s also very steep, very accommodating to grizzly bears, and usually very snow covered. So before going into this adventure we couldn’t help but make few assumptions:
- It will snow. All of our previous Dead Reckoning experience up to this point tells us that it will snow. At this point, we’re convinced that were we to do a Dead Reckoning trip to Aruba, it would snow on us while we snorkeled through the dazzling colors of the island’s coral reefs.
- There will be be bears. These bears will be grizzly bears, and grizzly bears are alpha predators. Essentially what we are going to do is we’re going to lash food to our bodies and to our bikes, then tease the bears while sleeping/eating/playing/defecating in/on their front lawn. Don’t worry, we’ll have some bear mace, aka anti-maul pepper spray, and bear mace has a better than 60% efficiency rate of stopping an ursine attack. This is not confidence inspiring; 60% is flunking, 60% is a poor chance that you’ll survive disease, 60% is an Everything Must Go sale. 60% is not what you want from the little spray can you’re supposed to use to fend off a mini-truck sized fur tornado with a hardcore knife obsession. No, you want more than that; but you take what you can get.
- We’re going to take a float plane into our start spot, tactical insertion style, sounds cool right? That’s because it is cool. Visually it reminds us of the opening scene from the movie Predator, you know, all these bad ass tactical dudes get flown into some remote place and then get systematically murdered by a space assassin? (see B.C. Chilcotins #2).
Were we correct? Well, if you read the full account you will get a sense of exactly how close we were in our predictions. What else do you have to do? Work? Take care of your kids?
BC is MTB hallowed ground. For the past few decades big travel mountain bikes have been de rigueur for shredding and blasting the well known trails of B.C.’s coastal range and beyond. But B.C. is big, and the Chilcotins are a mountainous area with minimal access, rugged terrain, and hordes of serious animals enjoying seemingly endless wilderness. Getting around here is difficult and road access is very limited so we devised our route around float plane access, a few established trails, and all-terrain compatible bikes that would be capable of tackling a route that criss-crossed a long series of passes over four days and nights. Some of the passes that we rode/pushed/struggled over included; Iron Pass, Shoulder Pass, Deer Pass, Windy Pass, Eldorado Pass, and Goat Bone Pass(?). We started at Crystal Lake and over the next four days we struggled our way back to floatplane HQ, Tyax Lodge.
Because we aren’t 100% certain about our route; Google Earth and on-the-ground knowledge vaguely agreed that our proposed path was possible but hard specifics were not forthcoming, we wanted a set-up that would handle unknown-unknowns as well as unknown-knowns and known-unknowns. Also, we wanted to maintain our policy of being fully self-supported, i.e. no pack mules, no drop points, no behind the scenes porters hauling espresso drinks up the side of the mountain, etc. Hey, we love espresso drinks, we have no beef with mules, and we tip porters generously, but in the spirit of the project, we carried our own shit.