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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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: