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August 19, 2010

Squamish: Chesire Cat, Chesire Kittens, White Rabbit, and Wonderland

Filed under: 2010, British Columbia, MTB Travel — anotherheader @ 6:05 pm

Thermo in Wonderland

One pill makes you larger

And one pill makes you small

And the ones that mother gives you

Don’t do anything at all

–“White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane

There’s been plenty of new trail construction in Squamish since our visit last summer.  Canadian economic stimulus funding has unleashed the trail building desires of Squamish’s mountain biking community.  There have been so many changes to the already extensive network of tracks in the area that the trail map has required revision three times this year.  For us, this is a good thing.  Alas, it does make the Squamish ride choices just that much harder to make.  It is a nice problem to have.

On Sunday, after being rained out on Saturday, it was time for our first ride of the year in Squamish.  We had heard that Chesire Cat and the related Alice and Wonderland trails were good destinations.  Knobs had done recon on Saturday and determined that White Rabbit Trail, near the Dryden Creek Resort where we camped, was indeed sweet.  That’s all the confirmation we needed.  We’d head up the road and into the rabbit hole.

Out of the trailer park, we pedaled north to the Alice Lake Road on the web of paths near Ray Peter’s Trail.  Crossing the road and turning north towards Whistler, we climbed a combination of roadside bike lanes and dirt trails in the Highway 99 corridor.  When we reached the Cat Lake turnoff, we turned off.

The trail map shows many route options in the Cat Lake/Highway 99 junction area.  It seemed like there were some reasonable and perhaps interesting routes possible to Chesire Cat, our day’s destination trail, but we soon got lost in the web of blown out ATV trails.  Next time, I suspect, we will just go straight to Cat Lake and start our ride there.  Knobs might even convince us to shuttle the route and avoid the traffic rushing by on the way to Whistler on Highway 99.

Our tour of the ATV trails finished on a steep and loose trail, Here Kitty Kitty.  Here Kitty Kitty took us directly into the Cat Lake Campground.  In fact, the trail took is smack into an occupied camp.  We pedaled around the camp’s tables and chairs, around the brightly colored tents, and eventually across a small bridge over another path.

“Where’s the trail?”

I’m not sure that it was spoken, but we were collectively confused about where to find the Chesire Cat trailhead.

“The mountain biking trail is over there,” confessed an occupant of another camp accessed by the trail under the bridge we just crossed.

He pointed to a faint trail behind their tents.  I’d guess that they might notice if they are making camp on a trail next time.

We looped under the bridge and pedaled between the camp’s tents.  On the other side, found the trailhead for Chesire Cat.

Chesire Cat is a single black diamond advanced trail.  It is on the easier end of the other single black diamond trails in Squamish.  (Despite the rain, the conditions were dry and dusty.)  Cat starts on a hillside and drops through loamy and loose turns as it heads down the hill.  There are occasional rocks and roots, but their density is relatively low on the Squamish scale.  A clever layout gives just enough difficulty to require line picking and to provide challenge but not so much that the features interfere with the flow.  Even the periodic appearance of our own Knobstacle couldn’t slow us up.  We quickly moved down the hill.

Mountain biking paparazzi

You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.  You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

–Morpheus in The Matrix

The end of Chesire Cat connects to Chesire Kittens and White Rabbit, using the Highway 99 bridges to cross the larger rivers and streams.  Chesire Kittens, White Rabbit, and the final trail, Wonderland have a similar character.  These trails gently descend under the thick lush foliage, twisting through the forest, and taking advantage of the natural features as they can.  The treads are generally loamy.  A lot of recent work has gone into these trails.  Split wood bridges cross the smaller streams and low build-ups keep the tires out of the wet weather muck.  This lower sequence of trails is fun and easy.  It would be a good non-threatening start for a North Shore newbie.

For us, the Alice in Wonderland trails are another addition to our Squamish favorite rides list.  This list is long.  It keeps getting longer.  It’s no wonder we keep returning to ride in Squamish.

The complete set of pictures in on Picasa.

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