A heavy thunderstorm Saturday night gave way to a cool, overcast Sunday. The shower was a welcome break from the heat. As it seemed like the thunder and lightening might return in the afternoon, we altered our Pemberton plans and stayed in the Whistler Valley for our day’s ride.
Becky liked the look of another new-to-us trail in Finestone and Hodder’s guidebook, Big Kahuna. The trail was in the Emerald Estates area near Section 102. Knobs, Thermo (as Becky now insists on being called), and I rode Section 102 a couple of years ago. It was not one of our favorite Whistler experiences.
“Which way do we travel on Big Kahuna?” I asked Thermo.
“This way,” Thermo indicated, pointing to the guidebook.
We went that way.
Our entrance to Big Kahuna was off the service road that climbs from the Emerald Estates’ neighborhood. (Take Autumn Drive to the Emerald Drive “T” and turn right; look for orange gate and a dirt road leading up the hill to the left.) About 300 yards from the beginning of the gravel road, an unmarked trail starts on the left. The beginning of the trail is on solid rock. It is hard to see. (Look for the telltale worn away moss.) A metal plaque on a tree 100 feet from the entrance confirms that the trail is indeed Big Kahuna.
What the sign and the guidebook failed to mention is that this is not the best direction to ride Big Kahuna. Unless you love psychotically long, super steep, chunky-technical climbs, that is. For us, there was a lot of hike-a-biking, which we didn’t particularly enjoy. All the time, over our shoulders, the terrain we had just climbed looked like a saliva inducing descent.
We solved the direction problem. When the trail reached its high point near its end, we turned the bikes around and headed down what had just clawed our way up. And the trail was so, so sweet in this direction.
“Exposed whaleback ridges,” we cooed at the top of a particularly long granite slab drop. It was all I could do to keep Thermo from licking the trail.
Aside from the delicious granite slabs, Big Kahuna has rocky and rooty singletrack and periodic step drops. It is a challenging trail and very fun in the downhill direction. The character of the terrain is similar to nearby Kill Me Thrill Me , but Big Kahuna has a much lower density of build-ups.
Our return to the trailer was on the paved bike trails that crisscross the Whistler Valley. It is an easy and comfortable way to back and forth between to the trailheads. Still more reasons to like the riding in Whistler.
The full set of pictures is here.
A sequence shot of Thermo dropping a big whaleback ridge: