A Pemberton ride was our first choice for our last day in the greater Whistler area. At a local bike shop we’d heard reports of great new trails in Pembie. (Government funding for trail construction has supported numerous new building efforts in the North Shore corridor.) Alas the conditions conspired against Pemberton. Warm dry weather, we heard, had left the trails dusty and loose. Lightening strikes had triggered forest fires near by that were now pumping smoke into the valley. We needed another option. Instead of Pemberton, we chose a new trail in the Whistler Valley, High Society.
High Society also came up during a bike shop visit. We were told that Society starts near Cheap Thrills and descends through similar terrain. (Details of our route to the trailhead are below.) That had to be good. And other riders seemed to think the same. All the mountain bikers we saw on the road were heading up to the Flank Trail for the full High Society experience.
Once at the trailhead, amongst the swarms of black flies, we padded up and headed in. The early part of High Society is all about momentum. Alternating between technical climbs and short drops, between the roots, rocks, and trees, line picking is all-important. For us, the trail’s combination of being unknown and unconsolidated, made maintaining flow a challenge. It wasn’t until High Society turned down the hill that we were able to get into a semblance of a groove.
Descending High Society is somewhat similar to dropping Cheap Thrills. The thrills are cheaper in High Society; the drops are typically smaller. Rocky outcrops are connected by a loamy tread with smaller root and ledge drops. There’s some woodwork, though build-ups are not a major element of this trail.
In the end the reviews of High Society were mixed. Knobs was not keen on the trail. Becky doesn’t like it on top. I liked the layout, though familiarity and tread consolidation would definitely enhance the experience.
At the bottom of High Society we had connection options. We could route to Danimal South or on to Industrial Disease. Industrial Disease is another old school, double black diamond advanced trail on the east-facing slope of the Whistler Valley. Without a detailed map of High Society, our choices were arbitrary; we chose Industrial Disease. This turned out to be a mistake but a common one based on the signs of heavy trail use heading down Disease.
Industrial Disease starts with some sweet drops but quickly deteriorates into an extended downhill hike-a-bike. If there is anyone riding this super steep loose section, the tire tracks have long ago been rubbed away by the predominance of foot traffic. It is a painful way to lose hard won altitude.
Ultimately the descent left us back on Alta Lake Road, slightly south of the Stonebridge turn off. Thoughts of heading directly back were detoured by Thermo who now became a Danimal Animal. We had to make a return visit to Danimal North. In the heat and smoke haze, we headed back up Stonebridge and this time turned right to repeat Danimal. A week of riding had made a difference; Danimal flowed faster on our return.
For me thoughts of finishing on Cut Yer Bars were sidetracked by a damaged front derailleur shifter cable. Becky came along with me on the road. Knobs did a quick pass of Cut Yer Bars and joined us at the trailer a little later.
It was a good ride though the time felt a bit misspent. How could it not? There are so many pleasant Whistler and Pemberton trails that we left unridden on this visit. Every year it is the same. We need more time.
Reaching High Society:
On the bikes we crossed the valley from Riverside RV Resort on the paved bike trails. At Rainbow Park, we turned south on Alta Lake Road and continued until Stonebridge Drive appeared on the right. Onto Stonebridge we climbed through the neighborhood until we reached the unmarked paved road across the street from the Scotia trailhead. We took the unnamed road up the hill and continued the climb on the gravel service road at the end of a cul-de-sac. Where the gravel road ends, a single track begins. This trail climbs through the woods to Flank Trail. A left turn on Flank and a push up an extended hike-a-bike left us at the start of Cheap Thrills. It was hard to pass this gem, but we did and continued a quarter of a mile or so to a visible trailhead on our left. This is the entrance to High Society, so we figured. And, with closer examination, we found that the trail name was carved into a tree at the entrance.
The full set of pictures have been posted on Picasa.