Though the drive to Hemlock takes you further away from civilization, gas and groceries, the scenery is worth every kilometer of hairpins, steeps and power slides. From the Trans Canada highway to the top of the resort takes about 45 minutes, but the drive is just as spectacular as the one to Whistler.After leaving Whistler, running some errands in Vancouver and picking up my new bike in Chilliwack, I was very excited to get to Hemlock to meet up with the Slope Sistair building crew- Brian, Aaron and Emerson. I had a picture in my head of what the course would look like but I was interested to hear what ideas they had come up with. One thing I overlooked: my previous visit was in the spring and I hadn’t taken into account the growth of the thick vegetation in the area- many of my ideas had to be “weeded out”.
This fine piece of land was chosen for many reasons- the most important one being the existing biker cross course, the natural features of the hill surrounding the course, as well as the already developed trail and jumps. Of course this was just a skeleton of what the guys would create over the weekend. Coming from COP and Panorama trail crews, Aaron, Emerson, and B set out to work early Saturday morning while I ran into town to pick up materials and make some friends. They worked straight through the afternoon with Chris Timm- our excavation buddy from Snowflake Resort up on the hill.
Reason number 2 for choosing Hemlock was the extremely welcoming locals and the very helpful attitudes of those involved in the development of both the village and the ski hill. From the moment we arrived we were shown to our condo at Snowflake (incredible facilities) introduced to all the locals we’d run into and work with over the weekend, and supplied with all the tools and equipment we needed to put our ideas into action. Although Hemlock is going through some major changes, they’ll bend over backwards to make everyone’s stay as comfortable as possible. We had been given permission by Chris to ravage his building sites for all the wood we needed- and on a limited budget, this was a saving grace.
Up on the hill, Emerson (this guy has a gift with wood) and B began building a curved wall ride near the bottom of the course while Aaron worked with Chris to push dirt into what would become a series of gaps, tables, and drops. In the meantime, I was sitting in the Sasquatch Inn at the bottom of the hill having a beer with a new acquaintance watching different motorcycle gangs drift into the pub to pay homage to the Hell’s Angels. Over the course of our drinks and meals, I was enlightened at the ins and outs of the Angels’ culture, their poker rally, and the bar full of different ‘colors’ and heavy hitters.
I slipped away and made my way back up to the course to help rake and talk about the major developments of the day. As we were about to begin heading back to the condo, we were surprised by the arrival of Justin Herx, a Washington native who had come to help out. Back at the condo I fell fast asleep and the guys- well, I don’t know what they did ‘cause I was asleep- probably ate and drank.
An early morning again Sunday, we were on the hill to meet with Carl the front loader-er, after picking up the necessary tools from Jesse’s shed. I started out helping Emerson on the wall but was quickly replaced after the Percocets I had taken for my back impaired my ability to think fast (or much at all). Over the course of the day, Emerson and B had created a piece of art, Aaron and Justin had created 2 big hits, and I had designed and painted a couple of great stencils and signs.
After making sure everything built that day worked with the course (and oooh did they ever!) we headed back to drop off the tools and clean the condo. After a hard day at work there was one last thing for all of us to do so we drove a couple k’s down the road, parked our trucks and hiked up some waterfalls to a small swimming hole that the guys had found on Friday. An amazing end to an incredible weekend- a refreshingly really cold dip followed by some extreme rock jumping by Brian and Emerson. Goodbyes were said and the crew started their trek back to Alberta, Justin back to WA, and myself to Vancouver to catch a plane back to Beaverlodge.
Believe me when I say you will not want to miss this event. The resort is very hospitable, the scenery is beyond beautiful (this course was made for taking pictures), and the women riding the course over September-long will be phenomenal. It is still to be determined whether the lift will be working or not, but the extra entertainment will keep everyone busy nonetheless. I want to send a thanks back to our machine operators, Chris Timm (our crew was just as impressed with your ability to listen as you were with their work ethic) and Carl Butler, whose enthusiasm to stick a snow groomer and car between a couple hits after bringing out about a dozen loads of dirt was pretty cool.
Qualifiers on the 3rd will bring 18 riders down to 10 (broken up by a break dancing demonstration by BC Dairyland’s cold crew
) and will be followed by a huge buffet ($12.95) in the lodge. Qualifiers to Sunday will be announced Saturday night during the Slope Sistair party, with live music and draw prizes (if you’re there you can count on winning something
). Sunday will bring semis and then the final round from 10 down to 6 of the top female freeriders in North America. Stay tuned on pinkbike.com
for rider bios and updates.
Editors note-there are plenty of camping sites at the resort and along the way to the resort.