The Crew: Becky, Scott, Brian, and Dave
Yesterday was the appetizer and today was the day for the feast. The map we purchased from the LBS shows 166 trails. We know of at least one additional trail not on the map, and there are likely many more. Needless to say, there are a lot of riding options in Squamish and we were only able to sample a few rides in the Garibaldi Highlands area.
The day dawned with low clouds and a heavy marine layer obscuring the snowfields on the craggy peaks that were visible on the way up to Whistler. The cool temperatures were ideal for riding.
Riding from the RV park was an option though the route would have been around 5 miles of road, so we opted to drive up to the parking area at the end of Perth (GPS
waypoints included at the end). From the cul-de-sac, we headed up the hill on an easy dirt road climb via Mashiter’s Trail. We left Mashiter’s at the intersection of Tracks from Hell (GPS waypoint at the end). The fun began on Tracks from Hell and started with low build-ups used to pass unstable/wet terrain, including a long marshy section. Roots and rocks were everywhere making for a constant, low-level challenge. Most of this trail was built taking advantage of an old logging skid road that gently climbs up to Edith Lake.
From Edith Lake we took Mike’s Loop Trails around the shoulder of the knoll and connected to an unnamed (as far as we know) green trail on a skid road. A right turn at the end of Mike’s Loop headed us towards trail 108, Entrails. Entrails was the first destination trail of the day and it did not disappoint. The trail consists of a tight and twisty line that winds the rider over roots, up over logs, onto low build-ups with a few short drops and quick climbs thrown in. It may sound easy, but it turned out to be very technical and there was a lot of walking going on in the group. The roots leading into obstacles proved to be particularly challenging as they often forced the rider from their chosen line. Roots are general challenge in the North Shore, but trails like Entrail emphasize this component of the riders skill set. The trail is challenging without big penalty points and is beautiful. We just needed the time to ride the trail a few dozen times until we had most of it wired.
Towards the end of Entrails we happened upon a new trail that was not on the map called Marc My Word. In this case, a detailed sign explaining that “Marc” was an influential trail builder in the area and describing how the trail connects to the trail system was placed at the beginning of the trail. The sign also described the character of the trail. Trail features including whaleback rock formations and riding challenges that were within reason were described. Always susceptible to good advertising, we were hooked and headed down the trail.
What we found was amazing. The trail winds amongst some large granite rock formations taking creative lines through them. The tree canopy blocked most of the light resulting in minimal vegetation on the forest floor and the interior room-like feel ones gets in the Fed Ex/Airborne drainage at UC and in many locations at ECdM. Glaciers formed the Squamish area, so the rock formations tend to be rounded and relatively smooth on the top with steep, smooth sides. Marc My Words loops over the top of these formations, often finding interesting lines to come off rock. At one point, the trail switchbacks its way down onto a 5-foot wide rock ledge. Riders stay on the ledge for 20 feet or so and then the trail turns onto a comfortably wide ladder to drop the last 15 feet or so off the rock. It was a beautiful piece of trail construction that requires serious stones to ride due to the exposure on the ladder. In other words, Scott rode it and the rest of us rode up to the ladder and thought better of it. We all knew we could ride it. Rolling it was a different thing, altogether.
Our pace for the ride was exceptionally slow. We would ride 60 feet or so, scout the next obstacle, plan a route and ride, or pass, and then repeat a few feet down the trail. This is definitely a place where you need to look before you ride. Add in time for taking pictures and gawking at the trail line and trail building and the net effect was a 2 mph average speed for the ride.
At the end of Marc My Word, we teed into Border Patrol, which we took to Mashiter’s. From Mashiter’s, we dropped down and spurred off onto Roller Coaster. Roller Coaster lived up to its name as a fast slot car track down the hill with perfectly banked turns. It was a great dessert for the end of the ride. Our ride took about 3 ½ hours with an average speed around 2 mph with a moving average of 3.3 mph for a total of 6.7 miles. With only 934 feet of climbing, and easy climbing at that, the stats tell a lot about the ride.
The Garibaldi Highlands area in Squamish, and the other major riding areas there, I suspect, are essentially neighborhood trail systems. Now that’s a neighborhood you want to live in! The “destination trails” we hit were largely marked as black diamonds. They were probably the hardest trails of the trip. A lot of walking was going on—Scott rode the most amongst the group. That being said, there were very few spots that we felt we could not ride or would not ride with more attempts/days. On the other hand, the double blacks in this area are most likely “Not in my lifetime” type of trails. I was undoubtedly in over my head, but it wasn’t far over my head. The feeling for myself was much like the early days of learning to ride at EcdM with Dave Luke’s map. We’d find stuff that we thought we’d never ride, yet would figure out how to do it six months later. There was always a challenge left to conquer, but at the beginning it was almost overwhelming and awe inspiring. That is the feeling I get in BC and was particularly reinforced in Squamish. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to learn to ride the trails by riding out of your garage?
In general, the trails in this area are inconsistently marked. At times, there is an amazing amount of information available including distances to other trails, general routing information, information about the character of the up coming trail, etc. At other times, there is a hard to see sign placed high in a tree and often pointed in the opposite direction to the way being traveled. Most commonly, there are no signs at all. Fortunately, the area is small and the map is good and you can find your way through. Again, it brings back the days of exploration in EcdM when we started.
Trail head at the end of Perth: N49 44.959 W123 06.632
Mashiter’s Trail and Tracks from Hell intersection: N49 46.192 W123 06.153
Edith Lake, Mike’s Loop Trails/ Tracks from Hell Intersection: N49 46.502 W123 06.594