Photo Story: Wet Feet & Gorgeous Views Bikepacking in the South Chilcotins

Apr 29, 2020
by Michael Overbeck  

A bike has always been a tool for exploration in my eyes – a way to see the world.

When I was a kid, it gave me a sense of freedom – riding through the neighbourhood or to a friend's house. Nowadays, it’s a way for me to see and experience remote corners of the world. Whether I’m riding through the city, down a country road, or cruising through open singletrack deep in the mountains. The bike still gives me that same sense of freedom.

For years, I’ve seen photographs and heard stories of the riding potential in the South Chilcotins near Gold Bridge, BC – a small mining town with just 40 residents. Last summer I set out with Spencer Wight & Quinn Hanley to spend 4 days doing a self-supported bike packing trip through the Chilcotins. None of us had ever done a bikepacking trip before so the learning curve was much steeper than expected.


Crew:
Spencer Wight
Quinn Hanley
Michael Overbeck


Gear:
3 Bikes – Commencal Meta 29, Commencal Clash 27.5 & a Commencal Meta 27.5.
3 Backpacks
0 Tents
3 Sleeping Bags
3 Sleeping Pads
1 Tarp
10+ cups of coffee
20+ Energy Bars
+ some clothes, a few bike tools & dehydrated meals.


Route:
This was, for the most part, our route.




Day 1 – Tyaughton Lake to Spruce Lake

We did lots of this. Looks simple on the maps but this area is much bigger than we expected.
We did lots of this. Looks simple on the maps, but this area is much bigger than we expected.

Waiting out a few rain showers checking the map.
Waiting out a few rain showers & checking the map.

This is what it s all about.
This is what it's all about.

Quinn pushing his way up High Trail.
Quinn pushing his way up High Trail.

Spencer making some adjustments to the fishing rod.
Spencer making some adjustments to the fishing rod.

Wet feet were the theme of this trip. Quinn Spencer drying out the shoes warming up the feet.
Wet feet were the theme of this trip. Quinn & Spencer drying out the shoes & warming up the feet.



Day 2 – Spruce Lake to Lorna Lake

Morning from our campsite on Spruce Lake.
Morning from our campsite on Spruce Lake.

A bit of bike maintenance in the morning.
A bit of bike maintenance in the morning.

Quinn making his way across Tyaughton Creek.
Quinn making his way across Tyaughton Creek.

The winding Tyaughton Creek made for a good 15-20 river crossings.
The winding Tyaughton Creek made for a good 15-20 river crossings.

Some smooth sailing down in the valley.
Some smooth sailing down in the valley.

The views were world-class.
The views were world-class.

Heading up Lorna Pass before making our way down to Lorna Lake.
Heading up Lorna Pass before making our way down to Lorna Lake.

Top of Lorna Pass.
Top of Lorna Pass.

Heading down from Lorna Pass.
Heading down from Lorna Pass.

Lorna Lake just after sunset.
Lorna Lake just after sunset.



Day 3 – Lorna Lake to Trigger Lake

Morning at Lorna Lake.
Morning at Lorna Lake.

A 4-day bikepacking trip in the South Chilcotins.
A 4-day bikepacking trip in the South Chilcotins.

Making our way back up Lorna Pass after our night at Lorna Lake.
Making our way back up Lorna Pass after our night at Lorna Lake.

Riding down from Lorna Pass opted to drop the bags for a minute.
Riding down from Lorna Pass – opted to drop the bags for a minute.

Making our way down from Deer Pass to Trigger Lake.
Making our way down from Deer Pass to Trigger Lake.

If I had an image of my head of the perfect piece of single track this would sure as hell be it.
If I had an image of my head of the perfect piece of single track, this would sure as hell be it.

Quinn chopping up some firewood when we got to camp.
Quinn chopping up some firewood when we got to camp.

Spencer Wight passing the time on Trigger Lake at sunset.
Spencer Wight passing the time on Trigger Lake at sunset.

The daily ritual drying out wet feet from river crossings.
The daily ritual – drying out wet feet from river crossings.



Day 4 – Trigger Lake to Tyaughton Lake

Morning on Trigger Lake.
Morning on Trigger Lake.

The 37 degree heat really got to us on the last day. Didn t have much shade from the trees anymore so pulled over any chance we got.
The 37-degree heat really got to us on the last day. Didn't have much shade from the trees anymore so pulled over any chance we got.

Trying to enjoy that wind on a bit of a downhill.
Trying to enjoy that wind on a bit of a downhill.

Put our thumbs out and got a lift for the final couple kilometres back to Tyaughton Lake.
Put our thumbs out and got a lift for the final couple kilometres back to Tyaughton Lake.

The guy who picked us up pulled a couple of ice cold Kokanee s out of his cooler.
The guy who picked us up pulled a couple of ice-cold Kokanee's out of his cooler.



This trip redefined my love for bikes – showing how a simple tool can offer total freedom, fuel our passion for adventure and take us to some of the most incredible landscape there are.

Photos & Words: Michael Overbeck
Athletes: Quinn Hanley & Spencer Wight



13 Comments

  • 13 0
 I love this place, and try to get up there every couple years. For anyone else headed up there, it's pretty silly to rely on your phone for directions in a place like that, despite the trails being on Trailforks. They make an amazing water proof map of the entire area, that's way more detailed and reliable than what you'll find on your phone. Also to anyone heading up there. Be good stewards for our sport. The area is super sensitive, there are a lot of different trail users, and access could be easily lost in the coming years. Be responsible.
  • 1 0
 Apps like Gaia, TrailForks or Fat Map are great tools for finding your way out there, so is a regular map. Good to have & be able to use both in my opinion! Thanks for the reminder on staying responsible – couldn't agree more!
  • 1 0
 @MichaelOverbeck: Yeah, more tools is good. Going out there without a physical map, however, is pretty foolish. One mistake away from being SOL.
  • 5 0
 The bugs are almost as big as the bears, which are numerous, huge and hangry. Trail beavers will chew through your sidewalls if you go too slowly uphill, which you will because the climbs go for hours and are 20+%. There are mounties with speed guns on the descents, so bring big rotors to keep it under 15kmh.
  • 7 0
 Great stories, great first, great photos. The Chilcotins are like nothing else in Canada. Thanks for sharing!
  • 1 0
 Thank you & glad you enjoyed!
  • 4 0
 A buddy and I completed a six day bike packing trip through the South Chilcotins last year. Me on my Chromag Rootdown and him on his Surly fat bike. Blue Blazer days, mind blowing descents and five strains of weed, what more could you ask for!
  • 6 0
 So cool. I would love to do some bikepacking trip like this in BC.
  • 1 0
 Couldn't recommend it enough! Feel free to reach out if you ever have any questions!
  • 3 0
 Did a 4 day bike packing trip last year around early July!! Super amazing place and well worth the trip????????
  • 2 0
 What are the bugs like in July?
  • 1 0
 They can be pretty bad, especially down in the valleys! Lucky for us there was no fire ban so the campfires helped a lot in the evenings!
  • 1 0
 Beautiful terrain!! Well done.

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