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September 4, 2008

Pemberton

Filed under: BC 2008, MTB Travel — anotherheader @ 6:20 am

Nick’s morning walk through the Lost Lake Trails came with a close encounter with a bear. Becky, rock in hand, and Nick, with his barking, were able to scare the bear off. Bear sightings are frequent around the campground. Some people see more bears than others do, as Nick is frequently misidentified as a bear, often eliciting screams from those who don’t notice that he is on a leash. Becky has been taking pleasure in this, letting Nick sneak up on unsuspecting hikers who turn around just in time to see a bear rushing at them.

Meat Grinder in Pemberton
Meat Grinder in Pemberton

“Ack! Bear!” say the hikers.

“Yuck, yuck,” mutters Becky, hopefully to herself.

We started the day with no ride plans in place. In the morning, we reviewed the multitude of ride possibilities in the area. With my left knee expanding in size on a daily basis, a day off was definitely the wise and sound choice. Then the discussion turned to Pemberton and our fate was set. We could not resist. To Pemberton, we would go.

After the 20 minute drive to Pemberton, we dropped in at the local bike shop to buy yet another copy of the trail map and to get some trail suggestions. We cruised up to the parking area in the truck and climbed on our bikes through the warm sun up Happy Trail. Happy Trail switchbacks up the hill with frequent technical rocky and rooty sections that serve to distract the rider from thinking about the how much more there is to the climb.

Becky on No Err
Becky on No Err

Hot and sweaty at the top of Happy Trail, we transferred over to Mosquito Lake. We didn’t see many mosquitoes, but there were swarms of small birds flying around. One landed on Brian’s neck. Next thing we knew, the color was drained from Brian’s flesh, as he looked shriveled and pale. Nothing that one of his supplement addled recovery drinks didn’t quickly fix, though we heard afterwards that the Italian Olympic Drug testers were making an emergency visit to Pemberton. I thought those bird things were pretty cool and tried to get one to land on my left knee, figuring that if the knee shriveled like Brian’s head, I’d get a couple of more days of riding in on the trip.


Brian on Freak Boy
Brian on Freak Boy

From Mosquito Lake we climbed up the fire road for mile or so to a fork in the road. From the suggestion of the bike shop in Pemberton, we took the left fork and almost immediately took the log crossing over the drainage ditch to an extended hike-a-bike trail climb to Meat Grinder. At the end of the hike-a-bike and back on the bike, I climbed up to Meat Grinder. As I climbed in the lead, I glanced to my left and I could have sworn I saw Nick over in the bushes. I looked again more carefully, and saw that it was a bear and a cub eating the mountain raspberries in the bushes. As the bears seemed to be upset that Becky and Brian had been eating their berries and I was in the bear’s only escape route, I thought what I always seem to think in this type of situation, “What would Bill do?” The process of trying to figure out what the hell goes in Bill’s head is so disorienting that I get confused and forget about the danger at hand. It worked again this time, as the bears seemed amused by my girlie bike but otherwise were disinterested.


Brian Freaking Out
Brian Freaking Out

A short distance further up Meat Grinder, we split left onto No Err and we let the fun begin. When revisiting an area that we’ve ridden before, we like to make sure that we add some new trails into the mix. No Err fits the bill for this. The trail drops back down to Mosquito Lake losing most its altitude in steep, smooth drops on the noses of massive, partially buried, granite boulders. Basically a drop, run out, drop type of trail. The drops are steep, real steep, and long, but the traction on the granite is tremendous and the descent is well controlled. With the adrenaline flowing and totally jazzed, we returned back to the fire road that we climbed up on from Mosquito Lake.

We repeated the climb, this time taking the right fork at the fire road split. At the end of the fire road, we took the right hand singletrack, Econoline. We climbed Econoline until we reached a right hand split to one of our old favorites, Freak Boy. This is the third year we have ridden Freak Boy. It is one of our favorites, though it has been seeing little action and is feral with no sign that other riders had been on the trail.

At the top, Freak Boy drops on granite noses like No Err, except that the lines on the rock are tighter and more technical. Down lower, the trail turns to dirt and baby heads, loose and steep in an environmental nightmare type of way, but way fun. We bypassed on the 3+ foot huck on the last big descent to the bottom of trail. We’ve all been fantasizing about doing this drop since we first saw it, but is still beyond our comfort level, particularly as it is in the middle of a long steep, loose decent.


Becky mainlining the Vein
Becky mainlining the Vein

Freak Boy dropped us back at the lake. We repeated the fire road climb again, this time taking the left hand singletrack fork on to Cream Puff. Our goal was to descend the front side of the hill and head back to the cars and to avoid Main Vein as it has a climbing gear required last drop.

The decent on Cream Puff was ripping fast until we split off onto Ramble On, which was tight, twisty, and technical, but still big fun. Next thing we knew, we were on Main Vein again. Were not quite sure where we missed our turn and then, soon after, we were not sure why we even thought for a moment that it was a good idea to avoid Main Vein in the first place. This trail is way too much fun to be missed. Main Vein descends steeply through long, steep granite slabs smoothed by flowing glaciers. Compared to No Err and the upper portion of Freak Boy, the granite drops were much longer and more technical. This was the big boy of the trails we did today. Our adrenaline peaked at the second big drop up from the bottom where a particularly long and steep granite slab drops you into a wheel sucking root that leaves the o-rings on your fork stanchions hermetically sealed to the fork crown. There was little adrenaline left in our bodies at this point.

We continued down to the BIG drop on Main Vein. We started to scout, with no serious intent to drop the section (the section starts with a tricky drop to a narrow rock ledge that has a micro switchback to a wall ride on a 30 foot granite face with a mandatory 5 foot huck in the middle). As we were checking the section out, a solo woman rider on a Reign X came down (only the second rider we saw all day). She ventured down to see if WE were going to ride the section. She said in 15 years of riding Pemberton, she had only seen one person ride the spot. Becky took this as a challenge and…well, OK, that wouldn’t be true. Instead we followed the trail that the woman took back up the trail a little bit. This was a bypass trail that in true Pemberton fashion was tricky and challenging in its own respect. The trail also had good views of the set up in the field for the massive Pemberton Music festival that is coming this weekend. The concert includes Coldplay amongst other well know acts.

The bypass trail dropped us to the railroad tracks that we took back to the parking area. We finished up the ride, hungry and adrenaline depleted, after more than 4.5 hours (not exactly what the doctor ordered for the knee). We were all agreed that this was one of the best rides ever. It was an amazing ride. Pemberton rocks!

We finished the ride with dinner and beers at the Pony Expresso, conveniently located next door to the bike shop. Somehow we were able to make it back to Whistler afterwards. Wow! What a day.

Pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/wonderdog1/Pemberton02

Dinner: Pony Expresso in Pemberton, next to the bike shop

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