Saturday, September 28, 2013

Three Sisters Hike (Fernie)

To celebrate the last day of summer and take advantage of the last few days without too much snow in the alpine, we decided to hike the Three Sisters Trail in Fernie. We were a pretty large group of 8, armed with many cans of bear spray, bear bangers, bells, flares and a shotgun, just in case a grizzly decided to get curious. Luckily we didn't have to use anything! We started up Hiko's Trail around 9:30 in the morning and it definitely did not feel like summer. Only when the trail suddenly started to rapidly gain elevation did the layers start coming off. About 30 minutes into the hike, we had already zig-zagged across a creek a few times and reached the top of a waterfall.
Looking up the creek and waterfall
The mouth of the waterfall. Not sure where it is coming from!
Rounding a corner, we came upon Bizaro Cave. We spent a little while here checking it out with headlamps, but didn't get too far in as we were pretty concerned about bears and it smelled like poop in there.
The entrance to Bizaro Cave
 After a bit more steep climbing, the trail mellowed out and the views started to emerge. The trail went straight up the valley with huge peaks on all sides.
Looking back down the Valley
 Despite being summer still, it was cold, especially as we neared the col where the Three Sisters Trail branches off of Hiko's Trail (which continues on for 13km to Island Lake Lodge).
Chilly way to end an awesome summer!
We had lunch at the col before heading up the ridge. A grizzly had been digging in the area as there were big holes all over the place. None of the poo we saw looked to fresh which was a relief but we were all on bear patrol. As the day went on, clouds moved in over the top of the Three Sisters and a cold breeze picked up. We were all prepared for cold after seeing a bit of snow on the top the night before so that didn't stop us from carrying on up.

500 m to go. Straight up!
Clouds moving in
The trail worked its way up the scree and into the snow. It was surprisingly deep on the trail from how the wind had blown it all in. I felt bad for the guys wearing shorts and was regretting my decision to leave the gaiters at home.
The whole crew (minus Kyle the photographer)
We had about 2 minutes at the top where we could see down into Fernie and Hosmer before the clouds came in around us. The top was frigid. While everyone was looking at the geocashe at the weather station, I was hunting for somewhere that would protect me from the wind I was not interested in the beers that had been packed for the summit. A quick, mandatory summit shot was taken before we bee-lined it back to the trail.

Summit weather station. Kind of looks like it is ready to launch into space
Deteriorating weather at the summit
 It took a while before I was warm enough to stop swinging my arms around, but by the time we had got down off the ridge, I was stripping layers again. It was a wet walk down, with rain coming in torrents on and off. Back at the car, we found out that one of the girls hiking with us had only ever done one hike before, in Hawaii!! I had no idea and was very impressed with her lack of complaining despite all sorts of crazy weather. Overall, the ~18 km hike took us 8.5 hours and was a ton of fun. I would like to go back and do it again with the views from the top. I am also interested in trying out the full Hiko's trail, stopping at Island Lake for dinner after.
View from the ridge (Fernie is behind the mountain on the left). Island Lake is somewhere behind the mountain on the right

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Seven Summits

At the beginning of September, Kyle and I took the week off to go on a BC road trip with the trailer. We stayed in Fernie for the BC Cup DH final where we both had podium finishes. It was a pretty knarly course and Kyle killed it on his new hard-tail! I won't tell you how many people were in our respective categories but we had lots of fun racing! We woke up Monday morning to grey skies so we took our time making our way to Nelson via the Kootenay Ferry. 
Kootenay Ferry
 We stopped for lunch in Ainsworth and visited the hotsprings. The hotspring through the cave was unbelievable! It was great to have a relaxing day. I feel like we don't get too many of those.
Parking lot lunch
 The next day was a whirlwind of shuttling the fantastic Nelson trails with some other visitors that we met in the Walmart parking lot. Our new friends Gavin and Dan are both living their dreams traveling around BC and biking every day. After a wicked day on Powerslave and Goldmember, we decided that we should ride the Seven Summits Trail in Rossland in the morning as the forecast for later in the week did not look promising.
A few km into the Seven Summits, looking stoked!
 Despite the best intentions, it was slow start, but we finally got going with plenty of time to ride the 30km before dark. After dropping a car at the south end of the trail, we started off from the Nancy Greene Trailhead. We tried to cut off a bit of the initial climb by driving up a logging road but it was so overgrown that we didn't get as high as we had planned. The first climb was brutal as it never seemed to end. We pushed lots of the steep section, taking advice from others to go easy at the beginning or the rest of the trail would be much more painful.
One of the summits along the way
 After what felt like hours of climbing we came out at our first of the 7 summits. From here, the trail became much more fun, with fast, flowing descents along ridge-lines and short climbs with amazing views! 
Stopping for a moment to enjoy the view
 This was my first big ride on my new Specialized Expert Carbon Enduro that I just got the week before. It was the perfect bike for the ride, I was able to crush the climbs and it was a weapon on the descents. I couldn't believe how big it felt for such a light bike. Thanks so much to Barry Mah at Specialized for hooking me up!
~20km into the ride and still smiling!
 The trail was in great shape, probably a bit dustier and rougher than it would have been with a bit of rain but we were having way to much fun to notice. Gavin kept us entertained throughout the ride with his Aussie stories and tales of his travels. Every time we reached a downhill he would say "its all down from here." We learned really quickly that this was never the case, there was always another uphill around the corner! The award for the hero of the day went to Dan for riding the trail on his Santa Cruz Drive 8 and not even complaining. 
Summary of the day: beautiful scenery and a bit of dust
 We had parked the truck at the bottom of the Dewdney Trail, a 5 km descent from the end of the Seven Summits. Despite it all being downhill, I was hurting by the end. My body was exhausted from the long hours spent on the bike. Arriving at the truck was a huge relief!
I was feeling pretty wrecked after the ride
 Overall, the trail was super fun! Having now rode 2 of the epic trails (Seven Summits and Comfortably Numb), I would definitely recommend Seven Summits over Comfortably Numb for its amazing views, wicked descents and (relatively) fun climbs. It is way less technical so despite being a longer overall trail, it doesn't take as long and is nowhere near as painful. I would totally ride this one again! To see details about the ride, check it out on my strava
Note the dirt lipstick and the colour of my arm from all the dust
The rest of the road trip involved staying in Nelson as it was so awesome and we didn't want to leave. I guess we will have to come back next year!