Images by Dave Silver
(unless otherwise noted)
Video by Wade Simmons
Words by Tyler MaineDay Four: Chopaka
They say you save the best for last and that was our day four experience for sure. Huge climbs, vast alpine, bigger descents and hours in the saddle, all with Smoke at the lead and everyone else charging along. We were headed into Chopaka (aka Bigfoot ) territory and we'd need an escort through the Lower Similkameen Indian Band's lands to get to the trail head where we wanted to begin our ride. The Watchmen (those who oversee the territory ) met us in the morning and would spend close to two hours getting us up out of the valley near Keremeos and way back into the hills, and the first part of the journey was on the scariest road I've been on in years, maybe ever. If we'd had to back back down, all of us passengers would have unloaded bikes and ridden out, it was one of those "you had to be there scenarios," but trust me when I say, 'I was happy to get out of the van and start the ride for more reasons than riding alone'.
The area's beauty was amazing to say the least and it's been a while since I've felt that "away" from it all on a bike ride. Vastness for as far as you could see in any direction, a real outdoorsman kinda place. Prior to the ride, Smoke told us that he and two friends had done this traverse a few years prior and had only ever heard of two others making this trek, so he figured we were the third group on bikes to ever be in the area. There would be some hunting camps that we'd pass through as sheep season had opened the day before and this was their area. So much good adventure lay ahead.
The riding to hiking mix during the first part of our day was leaning pretty heavy to the hiking side with lots of times where you were shouldering your bike up the steeper sections. Our first taste of alpine riding may have been short, but the area was so rad and the cabin where we stopped to regroup offered the perfect place to shoot our Rider Profile shots
From the cabin we'd remount (temporarily) our bikes and begin to make our way even higher through a notch in the alpine. The goal was to find Joe Lake and have lunch there in and amongst some hunting campsites that use the area as their base during hunting season. The last (and only other time) Smoke was up here they passed right by the lake by curling to the right of the notch as they crested, but Google Earth showed that they had just missed a lake and on this trip we'd seek it out.
From Joe Lake we'd have to climb a bit and then begin the long traverse via game and hunting trails as we made our way to the Centennial Trail. This is where we'd experience some of the best riding of the whole trip as we pinned it through the alpine on our way to a lookout (Wilderness Research Project Cabins) on South Slope above Ewart Creek.
Day four was weighing heavy on our legs, but everyone couldn't help but be pumped on the trails, the friends and the amazing weather that was all in our favor on that final day. I kept my thin wool base layer on all day, but alternated with my jersey depending on the sun to cloud cover. Our bikes held up to the constant pounding they were taking on non mountain bike trails and it was really a treat to be on such advanced toys - really we are fortunate to be doing what we all do and being able to participate in this amazing sport. Day four was making us all appreciate the finer things a little bit more. My trip highlight came on this descent to the South Slope look out when Simmons was insistent upon having me lead him through the next section of trail as he wanted to Contour it. I was totally scared to have Wade behind me and filming none the less, but I gave it my all to keep the bike upright and moving forwards. Turns out that, that two minutes was the best wide-open riding I'd experience on the whole trip and Wade captured it all on his camera - thanks buddy!Wade chasing Tyler through the open grasslands
Not wanting to sit around for too long and have our bodies cool off, we made the last stop a quick one as we were still a long ways from the end of today's trail, but the ground would get covered fast as it was pretty much all downhill from here. Just over 750 meters of vertical in around four kilometers, kinda downhill and it was loose and littered with rocks, yes the South Slope was actually a pretty technical descent this late in the day, but it was the most scenic one with the golden light shining hard on it. From the tree line we'd descent to Ewart Creek and follow is all the way back to our campsite from the previous night and where all our vehicles were waiting. We were out there pretty much all day, covered 30 kilometers and descended over 7700 feet, you could say that the crew had earned a cold Pilsner back at camp.Chopaka - 30.7kilometers traveled, 3110 feet gained and 7736 feet lost
Trips like Pinkbike's Hurtin' for Vert can't happen without a great group of riders and an equally amazing support group like Specialized Bikes, Bush Pilot Biking, Rocky Mountain Bikes, Pilsner and Pinkbike.com. Thanks a ton for your support in making this year's adventure all time, we all appreciated it.
Extra thanks to our drivers today Kim and the Watchmen of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band.
Stay tuned for the official 2012 Hurtin' for Vert Video from Connor McLeod and a full stats round up, coming soon.