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August 21, 2009

Squamish—Marc My Word, Entrails, Gouranga (Ride 19)

Filed under: BC 2009, MTB Travel — anotherheader @ 6:15 pm

Quiver taking the easier line on Entrails

Quiver taking the easier line on Entrails

In the morning we were back out on the bikes headed to one of our Squamish favorites, Marc My Word.  Actually, that’s an understatement.  Marc My Word is one of our favorite trails anywhere.

To break things up, we chose to drive the short distance to the neighborhood and climb on our bikes up to The Highlands on Mashiter.  Driving would also save us some time and let us do a double loop.

Climbing the gentle grade of Mashiter took us to Tracks from Hell that connects to Mike’s Loop and then on to Of Mice and Men Hill.  We split onto Entrails, a single black diamond advanced trail.  The top portion of Entrails is relatively level with tricky root obstacles.  A two-foot high log roll that is followed by a narrow ladder over a marsh is the most memorable portion of the upper section of Entrails.  There’s not much of a pain penalty for falling off this structure but there is plenty of incentive to stay up and keep out of the mucky, gooey mess below the ladder.

Take two:  Quiver rides the upper, alternative drop on Marc My Word

Take two: Quiver rides the upper, alternative drop on Marc My Word

Before long Marc My Word split off to the left from Entrails.  Marc My Word descends to Border Patrol and on to Mashiter in a series of drops.  On the map, the trail is marked as a double black diamond.  It is a single black diamond on the trail sign.

Early on the first of many steep pitches appears.  This first drop has an optional, sheer and direct line that we’ve always taken.  Intimidating to roll on to, the optional line is loamy and rooty and gets the blood flowing for the rest of the trail.  On her first attempt, Quiver sampled the soil conditions at the bottom of the express line.  The fall cleared her cobwebs and she cleaned the drop on her second try.  We were ready to ride.

The descriptive trail sign at the top of Marc My Word

The descriptive trail sign at the top of Marc My Word

Marc My Word continues stepping down the hill through a series of granite shelves.  Usually, there’s a steep smooth, glacier-polished, granite drop followed by a short, level interlude and then another drop.  The drops range from 4 to 30 feet high.  You might think the shorter drops would be easier, but on this trail, the shorter drops are often the most challenging.  Though we’ve ridden this trail many times now, scouting the drops is still obligatory as the line particulars are often very, very important. At the bottom of the trail, you can look back up the hill and see the route the trail takes as it snakes down the granite outcrop.  I can’t help but admire the creativity in the trail construction and routing.

Knobs' butt is on the knobs as he squeezes down a tricky, steep drop on Marc My Word

Knobs' butt is on the knobs as he squeezes down a tricky, steep drop on Marc My Word

As Knobs and Quiver will affirm, I crave the steep drops with the intensity of a heroin addict denied his fix.  So it comes as no surprise that this one of my favorite trails.  Unfortunately, the trail is getting easier the more we ride it.  The rush has become less satisfying.  Be warned, Marc My Word is a gateway drug.

Energized by Marc My Word, we climbed back up on Mashiter and repeated our route to the top of Entrails.  On Entrails, we continued to the intersection with Marc My Word but this time we split right on fork to continue on Entrails.  Entrails, which was recommended to us by a bike shop on our first visit to Squamish, is a popular path in the Garibaldi Highlands.  But somehow we’ve never ridden Entrails to the bottom.  The first time down the upper section of Entrails we saw Marc My Word, which had been recently “revealed,” splitting off to the left.  It looked inviting so we chose the pill in this left-handed fork.  Ever since, we’ve just been drawn to The Word like moths to the flame.  Today, with a double loop, we would shake off the cravings for another dose of Marc’s granite drops and see what the lower portion of Entrails had to offer.

Quiver on the iconic ladder that drops off of a rock shelf on Marc My Word

Quiver on the iconic ladder that drops off of a rock shelf on Marc My Word

Entrails, like the other trails in the area, Value Added and Marc My Word, drops off of a knoll.  This knoll has a high density of exposed granite.  All three trails utilize the rock to maximize the rider’s terror.  Entrails is perhaps the easiest of the three paths in the area.  Though it is given a mere single black diamond on the trail map it still packs wallop.  The trail drops down the hill initially with some extended, steep, tricky and technical granite sections.  After the granite ends, Entrails continues as a groove, gently rutted, winding, with loose loam and rocks through the trees.  Hang on and ride it out.  Throw in a couple of highly entertaining ladders along the way and you have another great trail in Squamish.

A trail sign for Entrails

A trail sign for Entrails

At the bottom, Quiver’s adrenaline reservoir was on empty, so she headed back to the truck.  Knobs and I looked at the map and, after a bit of searching, found another trail that should take us to the bottom, Gouranga.  Gouranga is on the map as a single black diamond.  Now how hard could that be?

It turns out that it could be pretty hard.  Gouranga was one of the hardest trails we rode during our visit to Squamish.  The trail starts innocently enough on a nearly level road cut and then turns and switchbacks down the bluff.  There are periodic sections of granite slab, but, by and large, most of the altitude on this trail is lost on steep, loose and rocky, gently grooved sections of trail that twist and plunge down through the vegetation.  Once you get started in on one of these descents there is no stopping.  The sections were long enough that annoying little conversations could start in the head.

Quiver on an interesting ladder towards the end of Entrails

Quiver on an interesting ladder towards the end of Entrails

“What the hell am I doing?  This is crazy,” popped into my head in the middle of a particularly long and sketchy drop.

Now, that wasn’t exactly helpful.  At least the mental conversation could have kept me from riding the next section of sphincter puckering terror track ahead.  But it didn’t.  I just hung on and rode on.

Somehow we survived to the bottom.  This trail might be easier with more soil moisture, I guess.  As it was, we rode nearly everything but I’d view another pass on this trail with severe trepidation.  And, for some reason, Gouranga did not rise to the level of gateway drug.

Knobs rolls the rock at the end of Gourange

Knobs rolls the rock at the end of Gourange

From the bottom of Gouranga it was a short trip back to the truck.  My Camelback gave up its last swallow as I peeled off my panic sweat soaked pads.  The ride took us about five hours to complete.  I’m not sure I can think of five hours of better riding.


Prior visits to Marc My Word:

Quiver on Marc My Word

Quiver on Marc My Word



  1. Hi guys
    I’m not a frequenter of blogs but was pleasantly surprised to read your knowledgeable postings about riding in Squamish and enjoyed the great photos. I couldn’t agree with you more about Marc My Word – I ride it once/week – probably my favourite trail. I’m the guy who built Marc My Word, Value Added, Credit Line, Word Of Mouth and numerous other trails. Let me suggest some other fine rides:

    You’ve got to check out Cheshire Cat (continuing on to Cheshire Kitten, White Rabbit & Wonderland) – all easy XC stuff but a beautiful ride.

    Someone has been working on Gouranga and it is positively flowy now (though still steep & committed).

    The ‘Entrails to End-Hole Connector to Icy Hole of Death to Jack’s to Root Canal’ is a great seamless connection of trails.

    WE hope to have a connection built soon that will link “Upper, Middle, IMBA – Smart’ to “Lower PowerSmart, Plum Smuggler & Word of Mouth’ which will be one hell of a long ride.



    Comment by jim — August 31, 2009 @ 4:38 pm

  2. […] It rained in the morning.  Rain is hardly uncommon in Squamish but it caught us by surprise.  We hadn’t seen precipitation coming in the weather forecasts.  The rain didn’t last long.  In the early afternoon we saddled up and we headed out to the Garibaldi Highlands to ride a favorite, Entrails.  (For more about Entrails, check the report from 2009.) […]

    Pingback by Squamish: Entrails, Icy Hole of Death « Another Header — August 19, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

  3. […] from 2007, 2008, and 2009 may have additional useful […]

    Pingback by Squamish: Marc My Word and Value Added « Another Header — August 22, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

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