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Iron Pass: Lord Nerd Beta

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

 

Brief Histories:

Iron Pass

 

  1. Chilcotin Range: A subdivison of the Pacific Range, the area is geologically complex with many different sedimentary rock, ancient ocean deposits, evidence of lava flow, and granitic rock. Fairly low average precipitation and many glacial features. Home to WOLVERINES!
  2. Taseko Lakes: Two large lakes that outflow into the Taseko River. Named for the Chicotin word desiqox, which means mosquito.
  3. Graveyard Valley: Also known as “Many Roots.” A war between First Nations groups was fought here in the 1840s between the St’am’imc and the Tsilhqot’in. [See below.]
  4. Big Creek Provincial Park: 67,918 hectares of protected land (with allotments for cattle grazing) established in 1995. According to the BC Park Service, the lands are rarely patrolled—so visitors should exercise caution. Access to the park is only possible via logging roads and trails (many of which grew out of trails established by First Nations peoples).
  5. Tsilhqot’in People: Also known as the Chilcotin, they were known for their hunting prowess and had an extensive trade network before contact with Europeans. After trading with Europeans began in the 1700s, disease epidemics killed large numbers of the population.
  6. Secwepemc People: Also known as the Shuswap, their name comes from their connection to the Fraser Valley’s bodies of water.
  7. St’at’imc People: Also known as the Lillooet, they’re known for the 1911 Declaration of the Lillooet Tribe which affirmed their sovereignty. Broken up into two main groups (the Upper and Lower).
  8. Mining: Gold prospectors arrived in the 1900s but the area never saw large scale mining or individual success stories.
  9. The St’at’imc and Tsilhqot’in War In the mid-1800’s the St’at’imc and the Tsilhqot’in Nations fought a short war after several raids took place after the Tsilhqot’in raided several St’am’imc bands. The decisive battle took place at Many Roots, known today as Graveyard Valley. The St at’imc won the final battle and Chief In-Kick-Tee, also known as Hunter Jack, initiated a peace treaty between the groups in 1845. Each First Nations group involved in the war holds Graveyard Valley in high importance due to the great losses on each side. Despite the formal peace treaty, tensions between the groups remained until 2003 when representatives of the St’ at’imc and Tsilhqot’in met in the name of peace and reconciliation to erect a memorial to the fallen warriors of each group in Graveyard Valley.

 

Compiled by Dillon Maxwell

 

FYI

 

BRING BEAR SPRAY. I don’t know how to put this delicately, so I won’t. Grizzly bears don’t mess around; given the chance and the proper provocation they will happily tear the limbs off of your body. One minute your arms and legs are there, the next they’re National Forest ornaments. The thing about grizzlies is that they are Bears; I mean they are land-based alpha predators the size of VW bugs with steak knife teeth, Boy Scout knife claws, and the acute senses one is blessed with after thousands of years of genetic honing. Being alpha predators they have had the opportunity to position themselves on some pretty nice property; natural resource rich plots of land where they can live a charmed life of binge feeding and passing out; grizzly bears live the life that every stereotypical freshman jock aspires to; get into a fight, slam some ‘za, and then pass the fuck out.

If you’re like me, then you value life and your limbs. And because of this you should do your best to avoid getting involved in a confrontation with a griz. Hey, do you like riding bikes, brushing your teeth, playing slow pitch baseball, and managing your Facebook account with the easy breezy nonchalance of functional appendages? Well then let’s keep those arms and legs around. This means that if you are traveling in a bear village then you need to come prepared, and coming prepared means carrying bear spray.

Bear mace is highly concentrated ghost pepper extract that has been compressed in a small canister in such a way that it can be discharged towards a target with reliable accuracy. You spray the bear in the face and the ghost peppers temporarily melt its eyes. The idea being that the bear’s temporary blindness is better than your permanent dismemberment. We at Yonder Journal agree with this assessment. We want to keep our appendages, and if you are like us then you’ll carry a canister of bear spray with you when traveling in griz country. Because it’s the right thing to do.

01
Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion

Great for light but bulky gear like a sleeping bag and your clothes. Pack the heaviest items closer to the seatpost.

02
Expedition Grade Camera Case

A Pelican Case bolted to a custom front rack provides the ULTIMATE protective storage for Daniel's camera.

03
Porcelain Rocket Frame Bag

Best for the heaviest items: food, stove/kitchen, tools, etc. Remove your frame's bottle cage bolts to prevent rubbing.

04
Storage Upgrade

Attached Everything Cages to the fork for additional gear carrying capabilities. Porcelain Rocket stuff socks work well to create the storage.

05
Specialized S-Works Carbon Fat Boy

Insane traction for climbing pre-bicycle, pre-mule trails. Excellent braking power for staying on the mountain. Run your tires at 13psi for the perfect blend of comfort and performance.

01
Knife

Any type of outdoor survival person will tell you that, for your buck, a full-tang knife is what you carry in the outdoors. Erik knows that, he's not stupid. He also has a knife tattoo.

02
Vans

Waffle sole provides sufficient traction for in-camp purposes without sacrificing comfort and style. Easily lashed to your seatbag with toe straps.

03
Fjällräven Travel Pack

Erik's taken this waterproofish pack on every trip we've been on together. Fjällräven means Arctic Fox, by the way. Which means it also means Erik.

04
LEGS

At this point in the development of bicycle technology, legs remain a crucial element for bicycle mobility.

05
Paracord

This rope type was specifically invented to hold a person to a parachute, while the whole deal–person/chute/cord–is being violently, but very consistently, tugged at by gravity.

06
Gaiters

There are so many beautiful little stones, pebbles, pieces of broken sticks, weeds, and other assorted elements in the world. Lord knows they have their place, but it isn't in your shoes.

Packing List

Food

  • ITEM QUANTITY SUGGESTED
  • Dehydrated Meal #1 1/day Assorted Mountain House (especially Breakfast Hash)
  • Dehydrated Meal #2 1/day Assorted Mountain House (especially Mexican Rice—get the Pro Pak if possible)
  • Bar #1 2/day Clif Mojo
  • Bar #2 2/day Clif Kit's Organic
  • GORP 3oz/day Bulk aisle
  • Jerky 3oz/day Teriyaki or Mango
  • Candy 3oz/day Haribo Gummy Bears
  • Chips 2oz/day Kettle Salt & Pepper (pre-crushed)
  • Cheese 8oz Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar
  • Salami 1 log Something artisanal
  • Baguette 1 Something artisanal—eat it fast
  • Hot Cocoa 1/day Swiss Miss
  • Coffee 3/day Stumptown
Packing List

Clothing

  • ITEM QUANTITY SUGGESTED
  • Bib shorts 1 Specialized SWAT
  • Overshort 1 Mission Workshop The Stahl
  • Gloves 1 Specialized BG Ridge
  • Cycling Cap 1 MFS or YJ
  • Socks 2 Icebreaker
  • Helmet 1 Specialized Airnet
  • Jacket 1 Mission Workshop The Orion
  • Shirt 1 Mission Workshop Linear Merino Tee
  • Underwear 1 Icebreaker
  • Long Underwear 1 Icebreaker
  • Baselayer 1 Icebreaker
  • Puffy 1 Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
  • Camp Hat 1 Your friend's grandpa's trucker
  • Camp Shoes 1 Luna Sandals
  • Glove Liners 1 Wool
  • Camp Shirt 1 Cotton Tee
  • Camp Shorts 1 Lightweight
  • Camp Coveralls 1 Snow Peak Field Suit
Packing List

Gear

  • ITEM QUANTITY SUGGESTED
  • Seat Bag 1 Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion
  • Frame Bag 1 Porcelain Rocket Frame Bag
  • Handlebar Bag 1 Porcelain Rocket MCA
  • Small Backpack 1 Mission Workshop Hauser
  • Hydration Setup 1 Something that doesn't leak
  • Minitool 1 Specialized EMT PRO MTB
  • Patch Kit 1 Rema
  • Tubes 2 New & Fresh
  • Tire Levers 2 Whatever's in the garage
  • Mini Pump 1 Specialized Air Tool Flex
  • Spare Parts Assorted Chainring bolts, bailing wire, spokes, pliers, brake pads, nuts & bolts, zip ties, etc.
  • Tent 1 Snow Peak Lagos
  • Sleeping Bag 1 Mountain Hardwear Phantom
  • Compression Sack More the merrier Sea to Summit eVAC
  • Sleeping Pad 1 Therm-a-Rest NeoAir X-Lite
  • Knife 1 SOG
  • Headlamp 1 Snow Peak Mola
  • Cup 1 Snow Peak Ti
  • Spork 1 Snow Peak Ti #sporklife
  • Bandana 1 Broken-in
  • Teeth Stuff 1 Dentist recommended
  • Boook 1 The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Lighter 2 Bic
  • Sunscreen Lots Waterproof
  • Lip Balm 1 Something with SPF
  • Sunglasses 1 Oakley Frogskins
  • Repair Kit 1 Needle & thread, sleeping pad patches, Tenacious Tape, etc.
  • Sharpie 1 Wrap it in Gorilla Tape
  • Wet Wipes 1 Get the soft package
  • Water Filter 1 Sawyer Squeeze
  • Soap 1 Dr. Bronner's
  • Stove 1/2-3 people Snow Peak GigaPower Ti
  • Fuel 1/stove Snow Peak GigaPower 220g
  • Cord 50ft Paracord
  • First Aid 1/2 people Homemade
  • Communicator 1 DeLorme InReach