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August 23, 2011

Mountain Biking: Pemberton’s Ph.D. Trail

Filed under: British Columbia, British Columbia, MTB Travel, The List, Travel — anotherheader @ 6:13 pm

"Falling Hazard Ahead" is truth in advertising: Becky on slopes of Pembertons Cream Puff (left) and Ph.D. (right)

The hunt for the perfect slab of whaleback granite continues.

Taking to Pemberton for granite, Becky gets here Ph.D.

Our excursion to Pemberton’s Ph.D. Trail came days after our last ride in the Mosquito Lake area.  The earlier ride was consequential.  Mid-ride we were grumbling and grousing after we inadvertently ended up on Grumpy Grouse while trying to find one of our favorite trails, Cream Puff.  It had been two seasons since we were last ridden in Pemberton; the entrance to the premium whaleback granite section of Cream Puff was no longer familiar.  And Grumpy Grouse was not a good alternative.  The forest-clearing going on below meant that the trail was neglected and the tread was blown out, beyond our skill, and not much fun.

Still fixated on Cream Puff, we pushed the bikes back up the hill.  A long ride became longer and our knees were lodging complaints to the proper authorities.  Eventually back at an intersection that we had passed twice before, we chose the correct option and found what we had sought and missed, Cream Puff.

The spine of sweet glacier polished granite that is Cream Puff was finally beneath our wheels.  On the bikes we followed a line of bare rock worn through the moss by the passage of wheels.  Indeed, Cream Puff was worth the push back up the hill.  It remains one of our favorite trails.

Though Cream Puff’s whaleback granite was sweet, our inept trail finding had consequences.  The next day, our knees still unhappily remembered the Grumpy Grouse escapade.  With rain threatening, a day off the bike was in order.  As often happens in British Columbia, rain days often come in clusters.  A day off was quickly followed by two more as the heavy rains moved in.  When the weather cleared and we emerged from our aluminum cocoon hungry for more whaleback.  We needed redemption.

The rain days had an upside.  Surfing the web we recalled another Pembie trail that we had heard of a few years back, Ph.D.  The video reviews were favorable; we decided to give the trail, at least lower portion of the trail, a try.

Over the phone the Bike Co. in Pemberton provided trail finding details.  (Take the decommissioned logging road starting on the south side of Rutherford Creek to the trailhead.  It took us a little longer to figure out the “south” detail than you might imagine.)  Almost exactly three kilometers up the logging road in a small gap in the forest on the left is the entry to the lower section of Ph.D.  Off the road grade, after crossing a small split wood bridge, the trail climbs a short hill.  Soon the fun begins as the trail turns down hill.

Ph.D. has a character similar to Cream Puff in that much of the altitude is lost on smooth granite drops.  Both trails maximize the rock lines.  And, like Cream Puff, the best line is typically where the moss is worn off the rock.  Difficulty wise, the lower section of Ph.D. that we rode is similar to Cream Puff.

Perhaps Cream Puff and Ph.D. differ most near the bottom.  Towards the end of Ph.D., the slope slackens and the granite stretches become less frequent.  In this area some stretches are loose and blown out.  We walked these.  Nevertheless, the whaleback pleasure was well worth the few short less pleasant sections down low.

Even taking our time, scouting the lines, and taking pictures, it took us less than 2 hours to complete the lower portion of Ph.D.  If we knew the trail well, we figure it would take less than an hour to ride the loop including the climb.  This is a good ride option for an easy day.  If we wanted a longer loop we’d attempt the reportedly more difficult upper portion of Ph.D.  Otherwise Ph.D. sits by itself.  There are no other singletrack options near it on the map.

Did we find whaleback redemption on Ph.D.?  That’s hard to say.  What we do know is that we found yet another sweet trail to ride when we are in the Whistler/Pemberton area.  We’ll add Ph.D. to our list of must ride BC trails.  The list is long and getting longer.  There are too many fine trails and too little time.

The full picture set has been posted to Picasa.

1 Comment »

  1. […] Ph.D. (Pemberton BC, 2011) […]

    Pingback by The List « Another Header — January 11, 2012 @ 3:17 am

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