Video Teaser: 8 Days in the Backcountry in 'A Chilcoltin Hogyssey' with Kenny Smith

May 29, 2019
by Cycles Devinci  

Words by Chester Bush

The Plan

"Buddy..." Kenny’s voice sputtered through the phone.

"What’s up Ken?" I asked. It was early spring 2018, six months before our trip.

"I got it," he replied.

"What’s that?"

"I got the hog."

"Sweet, where?"

"Mt. Matier, tomorrow."

"Dude, I'm in Prince George. I'm working."

"Just quit your job, get in your truck and start driving."

"I can't. I work for myself and drive a ‘99 Safari work van." He knows that, I thought to myself.

"Buddy..." he replied, intuitively taking that as a definite no.

It’s never easy to turn down an invitation from Ken. Often, they were “The best days ever” but usually I had only a few days to commit. The next time he called, however, it would be different. The next time, I didn’t have or need an excuse.

"Buddy."

"What’s up Ken?"

"I got the hog."

I laugh out loud, "Nice, where?", thinking he meant another weekend ski tour in the Sea to Sky.

"Seriously, this is the one," he replied, surprised that I had laughed at his first statement.

Intrigued, I asked where again.

"Chilcotins, Something Lake to Chilko Lake to another lake, river crossing, something creek, super haney then back to Tyax. River crossings… we have to build a raft. Float plane, boat ride. This is the Hog, Chet, this is the one."

It sounded intense and so ridiculous that if I said yes, it was too ridiculous to actually happen, so I wouldn’t have much to worry about.

“Sweet, I’m in.”

“It’s going to be hard,” Kenny said with a nervous chuckle. “Eight days out there Chet, you better start training.”

I took his advice, but looking back, what I should have done was sleep in my backyard, wake up in the morning, stuff my backpack, walk to the river, fall into it, then ride my bike to the nearest hill and take my bike up and down it all day hoping to step on a few wasp nests in order to get used to the feeling that would soon become so familiar.

Only a few weeks before the trip, the team assembled on a misty Vancouver day. We bought our stuff, had lunch and high fived. It was the last chance for anyone to bail before this once-in-a-lifetime expedition. No one did, and so it was: we had our team.


Kenny Smith was the head schemer and dreamer of the trip. His unwavering love of mountain biking had led him to this point. His days of jumping over trains and hugging massive cliffs were behind him. The hane train, however, was far from pulling over. Our next stop was deep in the mountains, charting a course on bikes that very few, if any, had ever done before.
Fraser “Newton” Newton. “The mechanic”, “The doctor”. Whether it’s riding or fixing a bike, he is one of “those guys”. If it’s broken, he can fix it. If it’s rideable, he can ride it. If it can’t be fixed, he can make something work to help you limp to wherever you’re going. His skills made him necessary, his attitude made him a necessity.



Margus Riga, “The Chilcotin Bad Boy”, would be Kenny’s point man on this. No stranger to the backcountry, he was the experienced guy. Riding all over the world capturing photos of the sport’s best athletes, Riga was Kenny’s go-to guy for the trip. His sheer strength is apparent whenever you’re skiing or riding with him. If you’re hiking, he’s ahead of you. If you’re climbing up a mountain with a bike, he’s also probably ahead of you, and if he’s not, it’s because his keen eye has taken him off the path to capture the moment—after he repacks up his camera gear he’ll pass you on the way to the top.

Myself: Chester Bush. “The Chet”. Kenny would let people know that I was going to be “the writer”. It wasn’t a casual weekend pedal in the Chilcotins so everyone needed a purpose. If that was mine, then I would try my best. My backcountry experience was limited, but I wasn’t known to quit, and Kenny must have had some confidence in me in order to invite me. Also, I think he and Margus knew I would make room in my pack so I could mule around spare parts and batteries for the bikes and cameras.





Riders: Kenny Smith, Fraser Newton, Chester Bush, Margus Riga

Photos: Margus Riga
Editing & Direction: Matt Butterworth
Motion Graphics: Paul Harrison
Sound Design: Jo Osborne



MENTIONS: @devinci




7 Comments

  • + 3
 C'mon, that was such a tease !
I did about half of that a few years back.. Not sure I'd do it again.. Oh the joy of doing 1000+m climbs bushwacking cause you can't find the trail anymore..

Food caches ? I can't see myself carrying more than 5 days of food and still enjoy the descents..
  • + 2
 Not sure it's the case here, but it's been possible in the past to have Tyax make supply drops. They could have arranged that at the lakes, if they had prior knowledge of those areas.
  • + 1
 @krispeuf what was your 1000m+ climb bushwhacking? Just to add back some reciprocal value my shortlist of very vague beta

- There is no bikeable trail heading over the Slim Creek drainage. Just lots of blowdown. It's actually a tough hike
- Yohetta-Tchaikazan is a much better hike than a bike. Cross deep glacial fed drainages later in the day rather than in the middle of the day melt runoff
- Do NOT try to hike across the Warner Glacier over to Lorna Lake as there are open crevasses in summer.
  • + 5
 Sweet! Can't wait for the whole thing!
  • + 1
 With 8 Days in the Backcountry I would think a much better teaser video could have been made.....The idea got me excited, The edit gave me a stomachache.....Where's the Hype? Natural sound? The Drama? The soundbites supporting the adventure? As much as I'd like to see the full movie if it's put together as poorly as this video it will be a bust.
  • + 3
 What's "the hog?" Is that code for something? :/
  • + 1
 Good pioneer Hogying Boys. Look forward to the full movie. Cheers Charlie

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