I had an opportunity to stay in Vancouver for a week with my lady friend and her mother.  I planned on taking an extra week to go on a solo bike trip the following week, and I read about the massive amount of singletrack trails in South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park.  Over 200 km of remote trails, alpine meadows, pristine lakes, ridgelines… it was an easy choice.  I just had to figure out how to get there.  Most people drive directly to the park boundary, or better yet, take a float plane to one of many remote lakes and ride out.  Booking a plane by myself was out of the question, and I didn’t want to rely on hitching a ride with another group.  Renting a car seemed like a silly idea just to leave it parked at a trailhead for 5 days.  Plus, I had a bike, which happens to be a mode of transportation.

Greyhound normally does not allow you to stow a complete bike with checked luggage, but with the popularity of mountain biking in Whistler and Pemberton, they are nice enough to allow that sort of thing for trips to those areas.  You can take an assembled bike, out of the box, from Vancouver all the way to Pemberton.

This was my first solo trip.  I had hoped to cover more milage, but once I was in South Chilcotin Mountains Park, I realized miles were going to be much more difficult than I had anticipated.  My trip was at the end of June/early July, which was basically the start of riding season in that area, and a time for high water creek crossings.  While some trails were in great shape, others were overgrown, destroyed by horses, massive rock slides, trees down, and some snow up high.  I made a decision once in the park to cut my milage down and take it easier.  There was an alpine section that I definitely wanted to ride, and didn’t want to miss my opportunity if other sections were taking longer.  I also had to consider ~100 km I had to cover just to get back to Pemberton and catch my bus/flight in Vancouver.
Route Map 


Gear List

Bags:  Full Wanderlust Gear bag set, including Divide Frame Bag, Sawtooth Bar Bag with Pinion Pocket, Rattlesnake Stem Bag, Shenandoah Seat Bag, and a Beargrass Top Tube Bag.
also had gpx routes loaded on a Garmin eTrex 20
Camera gear: Sony a6300 with Sigma 30mm 1.4, Sony 50mm 1.8, and Zeiss Touit 12mm 2.8

Camp Gear: 
Enlightened Equipment 30 degree quilt
Optimus Crux Lite Stove with Weekender pot set
Custom tarp shelter with Tyvek footprint
lots of layers
lots of food
Canadian Whiskey

Bikepacking the South Chilcotin Mountains
After starting my trip in the rain, I stopped to enjoy my first wide open view of the Pemberton Valley. I grew up surrounded by farmland in Indiana and never once had an interest in being a farmer. After biking through these fields, I had a sudden urge to learn everything there is to know about agriculture. If I had left any room in my bags, I would have been tempted to stop at a farm stand to fill up with fresh produce.
Bikepacking the South Chilcotin Mountains
The route I created on Ride With GPS took me up a steep doubletrack road that kept getting steeper and more overgrown. I caught my last glimpse of the Lillooet River on one of the switchbacks. I later learned that I turned too soon, onto what was probably the old version of the road I should have taken. I lost a lot of time pushing my bike through a gauntlet of wet vegetation, making as much noise as I could to avoid a Grizzly encounter. By noise I mean shouting bad words. I slept on the first flat spot my headlamp revealed.
Bikepacking the South Chilcotin Mountains
I finally found the Hurley River Forest Service Road. This road was in way better condition than what I had pushed up the night before. I was offered encouragement during the last part of the climb from two guys flying by on motorbikes yelling “yeah buddy!”
Bikepacking the South Chilcotin Mountains
At this point, I was losing elevation, and gaining excitement to be getting closer to singletrack. The black pouch on the top tube was supposed to contain bear spray. I decided not to stop anywhere on my way out of Pemberton to get any. Maybe it was the relief of finally starting the ride that made me not want to stop until I had to sleep. I was fully loaded with bags from @Wanderlustgear, including the Divide Frame Bag, Sawtooth Bar Bag with Pinion Pocket, Rattlesnake Stem Bag, Shenandoah Seat Bag, and a Beargrass Top Tube Bag. Hidden from view is a small camera bag that was modified to fit on the bars. Hauling everything is my Chumba Stella Titanium.
Bikepacking the South Chilcotin Mountains
After a very long descent, I found the bustling town of Gold Bridge. I was eager to find the only restaurant in town, which was also a motel. Too bad they were closed in the middle of the day. The nice lady at the general store told me the restaurant/motel owner was also the lone ambulance driver. If she got a call, she’d have to close. Sucks for me, but sucks worse for whoever needed that ambulance ride. I caught up with the guys on motorbikes that passed me earlier in the day. After I told them I was going to the Chilcotins, they asked me if I had bear spray. I said no, and one of them exclaimed “We both carry bear spray and we’re on motorcycles!” After a nice pause he assured me “You’ll be fine, what are the chances?”
Bikepacking the South Chilcotin Mountains
I opted for the shortest route with the most climbing to get to Gun Lake. I made the mistake of not filling up my water bottles before the climb during the hottest part of the day. It was a huge relief to see Gun Lake. I found this forest service campsite on the east side of the lake.
Bikepacking the South Chilcotin Mountains
Crossing Jewel Bridge with Gun Creek raging below. On the other side is the border of South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park. I’m finally riding singletrack. This is around the point where I had lost an essential piece to my water filter, which I didn’t know until my next attempt to fill up. For the remainder of the trip I had to rely on iodine and boiling water.
Bikepacking the South Chilcotin Mountains
The first rockslide area of the trip on Gun Creek Trail. A slip would send you way down into Gun Creek. This is where I realized how rugged this park would be, and I would be covering less ground than I had hoped.
Colorado comes to mind on this section of Gun Creek Trail.
Colorado comes to mind on this section of Gun Creek Trail.

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Spruce Lake was my base camp for a couple of nights. I found a natural pier so I could get some clean water away from the bank.  I had to get a selfie so I didn't come back with just pictures of my bike.  The campsites here were fantastic, with bear lockers and a compost toilet with a view.  I had the campground on the south end of the lake to myself.
Spruce Lake was my base camp for a couple of nights. I found a natural pier so I could get some clean water away from the bank. I had to get a selfie so I didn’t come back with just pictures of my bike. The campsites here were fantastic, with bear lockers and a compost toilet with a view. I had the campground on the south end of the lake to myself.
I got bored and set my camera up for another selfie.  Oh ya know, just making dinner in the woods.
I got bored and set my camera up for another selfie. Oh ya know, just making dinner in the woods.
I had a rough idea, but I didn't really plan my trip until my first morning in the park. That was both the best and worst move.
I had a rough idea, but I didn’t really plan my trip until my first morning in the park. That was both the best and worst move.
Next time, I'm camping at Hummingbird Lake.  I took advantage of the bear lockers back at camp to go on a day ride.  The water really is that blue.
Next time, I’m camping at Hummingbird Lake. I took advantage of the bear lockers back at camp to go on a day ride. The water really is that blue.
Not long after Hummingbird Lake, I came across the campsite at Trigger Lake.  This would also be an excellent choice for a night of rest.
Not long after Hummingbird Lake, I came across the campsite at Trigger Lake. This would also be an excellent choice for a night of rest.
Another rockslide during my day ride up to Warner Lake.
Another rockslide during my day ride up to Warner Lake.
The topo lines on the map didn't look that bad, but there was a lot of up and down on Gun Creek Trail to Warner Lake.
The topo lines on the map didn’t look that bad, but there was a lot of up and down on Gun Creek Trail to Warner Lake.
One of only a few people I saw on the trail was Rocky, a "semi-retired" float plane pilot. He had been camping, hiking, and fishing around this spot on Warner Lake for a couple of days. I dig that retirement plan. Rocky is in the frame, just hiding.
One of only a few people I saw on the trail was Rocky, a “semi-retired” float plane pilot. He had been camping, hiking, and fishing around this spot on Warner Lake for a couple of days. I dig that retirement plan. Rocky is in the frame, just hiding.
The mosquitos hadn't been that bad so far in the park, but I was attacked at Warner Lake.  I snapped a couple of photos and headed back to camp.
The mosquitos hadn’t been that bad so far in the park, but I was attacked at Warner Lake. I snapped a couple of photos and headed back to camp.
Some rockslides were more like boulder fields.  The terrain in this park can be brutal.
Some rockslides were more like boulder fields. The terrain in this park can be brutal.

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A nice reminder to make some noise while riding through the park alone.  I did a lot of singing whatever song was in my head.
A nice reminder to make some noise while riding through the park alone. I did a lot of singing whatever song was in my head.
Timber.
Timber.
I found a journal left at a campsite with some interesting notes. I added my own entry on a blank page, and I don’t remember what I wrote. #needbumpad
Another reminder to be loud.  I just got to the point of telling really awkward sounds.  Like BAAAAAHHHH!!!  YUUUUUP!!!!  YOOOOOOOO!!!!
Another reminder to be loud. I just got to the point of yelling really awkward sounds. Like BAAAAAHHHH!!! YUUUUUP!!!! YOOOOOOOO!!!!
A look back towards Hummingbird Lake.
A look back towards Hummingbird Lake.
The light was starting to get really good, but I was hungry and still had a bit to go before I was back to camp.  @chumbausa @wanderlustgear
The light was starting to get really good, but I was hungry and still had a bit to go before I was back to camp.
I could see the glacier that was the source of this stream, but I gave it an iodine tab just in case.
I could see the glacier that was the source of this stream, but I gave it an iodine tab just in case.
In search of alpine trails, I headed up High Trail.  Lots of pushing the bike at this point.  Yes, that is a tripod strapped to the bar bag.  I had intended to practice my astrophotography skills on the trip.  By the time it was dark enough, I was exhausted and ready for sleep.  2 pounds I probably could have left at home.
In search of alpine trails, I headed up High Trail. Lots of pushing the bike at this point. Yes, that is a tripod strapped to the bar bag. I had intended to practice my astrophotography skills on the trip. By the time it was dark enough, I was exhausted and ready for sleep. 2 pounds I probably could have left at home.
And here I was thinking that Windy Pass was not as windy as advertised, and a gust blew my bike over after this shot.  Showed me....  @wanderlustgear @chumbausa
And here I was thinking that Windy Pass was not as windy as advertised, and a gust blew my bike over after this shot. Showed me….
Windy Pass looking to the east.  I stood up here for a while in awe of this view.
Windy Pass looking to the east. I stood up here for a while in awe of this view.
My first bit of snow on the High Trail.  I encountered more on the trip, but was in no mood to get the camera out.
My first bit of snow on the High Trail. I encountered more on the trip, but was in no mood to get the camera out.
The High Trail was certainly a highlight of the trip.  This was exactly what I was looking for.
The High Trail was certainly a highlight of the trip. This was exactly what I was looking for.
I cut over Taylor Creek trail to check out Taylor Cabin, but there was a big group camping next to the cabin.  I didn't want to intrude, so I set up camp a little higher up with a great view of what I would be climbing the next day.
I cut over Taylor Creek trail to check out Taylor Cabin, but there was a big group camping next to the cabin. I didn’t want to intrude, so I set up camp a little higher up with a great view of what I would be climbing the next day.
East view from camp near Taylor Cabin.
East view from camp near Taylor Cabin.

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Bikepacking the South Chilcotin Mountains
I would have loved to follow this ridge trail further, but I needed to head the opposite direction. The wind almost blew me off the trail a couple of times. Riding up here fully loaded was crazy fun.

Bikepacking the South Chilcotin Mountains

Descents like these!  WOOO!
Descents like these! WOOO!
Bikepacking the South Chilcotin Mountains
One of my last photos in the park. I had lost track of days, and in following hours I would have a wide range of emotions running through my head.
After riding through way more snow than I would have liked, I found that the trail I planned to take out of the park was in bad shape.  With trees blocking the path and rain clouds rolling in, I made the decision to ride back to Pemberton that night.  My final stretch was an 85 mile ride over 4 mountain passes, and back through the Hurley River road at night in the rain.  I guess I'd had enough.  I went from literally my highest point that day on Camel Pass to my lowest point wanting to go home.  My first solo trip was a rewarding experience, but I think I'd like to come back and share those highs and lows with the company of good friends.  This shot was at sunrise during my last descent on Hurly FSR into Pemberton Meadows.
After riding through way more snow than I would have liked, I found that the trail I planned to take out of the park was in bad shape. t was clear that no one had taken B&F Creek Trail yet that season, and I figured the blowdown portions I came across would only get worse. I backtracked to the start of Lick Creek Trail. With rain clouds rolling in, I made an impulsive decision to ride back to Pemberton that night. My final stretch was an 85 mile ride over 4 mountain passes, and back through the Hurley River road at night in the rain. I guess I’d had enough. I went from literally my highest point that day on Camel Pass to my lowest point wanting to go home. My first solo trip was a rewarding experience, but I think I’d like to come back and share those highs and lows with the company of good friends. This shot was at sunrise during my last descent on Hurly FSR into Pemberton Meadows.
Bikepacking the South Chilcotin Mountains
First light hitting snowy peaks, descending Hurly River FSR.

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The fog rolling through Pemberton Valley above the Lillooet River was incredible to see in real time.  I tried to do a time lapse, but I could not keep my lens from fogging.
The fog rolling through Pemberton Valley above the Lillooet River was incredible to see in real time. I tried to do a time lapse, but I could not keep my lens from fogging.

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Interested in the bags Kody used, head over to WanderlustGearUSA.comWanderlust Gear is made in the USA and designed with feedback from their ambassadors and CHUMBA USA’s team of riders

Head over to Kody’s Instagram page for more fantastic photos: @gibsonnotguitar

4 Comments

  1. Nice blog Kody. I bikepack in northern BC, but would like to do some trips in the south. Check out my blog at the link below.

    http://blogs.unbc.ca/unbcmtbtours/

  2. Thanks Troy! I can’t wait to get back to that area. So much to explore!

  3. Outstanding writeup – thanks for the great photos too! Love the stoke on this site.

  4. Great stuff Kody. Having done a few solo overnighters, I completely understand how aloneness can become loneliness after so much time on your own. However, some of those solo trips are the ones I think back to the most, so hopefully as the dust settles, you look back on this trip you did as one of the highlights of your bikepacking career. And thanks for sharing all the beautiful landscapes through this platform – it was a pleasure experiencing the Chilcotins through your photos and narrative.

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