We left the city on an overcast Friday night last May long weekend, through Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton, MT. Currie, and onto the Duffy Lake Rd. After we finished the climb up from Mt. Currie we decided it would be a good time to eat the pizza we bought back in Whistler. While I was enjoying the pizza and view Bugs breaks the silent with a comment that made me wish I had stayed at home. "You know I've been married for a while now and I'm into spooning". I couldn't stop laughing as I knew the weekend was going to be fun and memorable, but I was a little worried.
I've never been on the Duffy Lake road at night and I was surprised by the beauty of it. At times there was just our headlights and a hint of a moon. All I needed now was a Dirty Three CD to make the moment perfect. The mountains loomed overhead and every now and then another car would pass us, it was quite serene and breath taking.
When we finally reached Lillooet and the BC Hydro campsite was full. So off to find a spot where we can pitch our tent and drink a few. After about an hour of driving and looking, we couldn't find a single thing, so back to Lilooet to get a motel room. Finally into our room to watch Red Shoe Diaries (hey there is culture in Lillooet) and sleep. Me on the single bed as Bugs's earlier comment was still fresh in my mind.
The morning was clear and warm, we couldn't wait to get on our way. We left Lillooet for Moha and then into the Yalokum Valley for our ride up to Nine Mile Ridge. I highly recommend this area for an outdoor excursion, it's quite spectacular. Just be prepared as this is grizzly country.
We finally reached our destination to start our climb. I looked at it and knew immediately that there was going to be very little uphill riding. It looked loose and steep, the trail book did say hike-a-bike section. Since we were going to about 7100ft we were bringing up full packs with extra clothing and food. I was weighted down with about 20 pounds of gear and my bike. I wasn't looking forward to slogging it to the top, but better prepared than dead.
Well we both bit the bullet and started the climb. This wasn't going to be easy in the footwear I was wearing, I slipped ever second step. Next time hiking boots and not runners. This first section of our climb was just plain nasty and tiring, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. There were a lot of breaks, about every 20-30 minutes. On one of these breaks I by chance looked behind my knee to see something on it. Fuck it was a tick! For the next 10 minutes we searched ourselves for more of the little bloodsuckers. I ended up finding about 5 more on myself and it was the same for Bugs. We decided to do these searches every 20 minutes for the entire trip up.
The higher we got the more spectacular the view. There were times I looked down and I could feel myself getting queasy. I have a healthy respect for heights. Man just sitting back and enjoying the view was well worth the trip up and that feeling in my gut. In sections the trail would wind it's way along a ridge and it was a 500 foot drop on one side and nothing really to hold onto to the other if you did go over.
When we reached about 6500ft it felt as if somebody had just punched me in the nose. This was the highest I have ever been without a pressurized cabin. There was no sign of bleeding but that night and for the next 2 weeks everytime I blew my nose blood came out. Also we both noticed that our sense of distance was being played with. As we came around a corner we both could see that the ridge wasn't to far and we'd reach it in no time. What was really weird was we both saw an Inukshuk that was huge. When we finally got to it, it was only 2-3 feet high.
We were now only a hop, skip and jump from the top. It felt so good to reach our destination that we ditched the bikes and packs to do some exploring, this was a mistake. We went for a quick hike to the south to see what was there. There was a great view of China Head and the range west of where we were. Then the weather changed.
I've only heard how quickly the weather can change at elevation but never before experienced it first hand until now. When we reached the top it was about 5 or 6 degrees celsius but within a half hour it was below zero. We beelined it for our packs to get on our warm clothing. I turtled so fast that I actually felt the boys shivering inside of me. We donned our clothing as fast as we could and onto the bikes for what would be one of the most memorable downhills I've ever had the pleasure of riding.
To say the least I was scared in sections and walked a couple that made me think twice. Bugs basically cleared everything. I bailed once when my front wheel dug into the soft and loose dirt when I was attempting a turn. Bugs and myself were using the tripod method of riding. One leg out onto the side of the hill closest to you and not look down the other. Freaky in sections and ass off the saddle steep.
Not only was I worried about bailing on the wrong side but at times it looked as if you were riding down into oblivion. The last section was the freakiest for me. Some of the steepest and tightest switchbacks I ever had the pleasure to encounter. Some I made and others I just thought today is not a good day to fly. Then there was the final 100 feet of steep loose and no real ride out. I went for it and nearly ended in a stream. Bugs got a good laugh from that. Nothing as funny as an out of control rider doing an unexpected nose wheelie. It took about 10 minutes to get my stomach out of my mouth.
Well the ride down took only 20 minutes and the hike up took 2.5 hours. Ever step was worth it and the beer was even better. Still upset for nor seeing any grizzly, moose or elk but I was stalked by a cougar. But that is another story for another day.