Chilcotins – Day 2 – Cluckata Ridge – Spruce Lake Horse Assisted Trip

Today was a much easier day with much more limited goals. We had originally planned to head west down Grant Creek then climb to Iron Pass and back down Tosh Creek. Information gleaned from other’s in the area was that Tosh Creek was a mud-fest. I had already struggled through Grant Creek and over Iron Pass less than a month ago so was only too happy to switch plans and go for a simple out-and-back to Cluckata Ridge.


Map of day 2 route


Horses taking in their morning feed.


After yesterday’s navigation debacle, today was straightforward route-finding. Breakfast was stellar and big. The sky cleared up beautifully and we were looking forward to the views. In not much time at all we were crossing Big Creek, taking in the same route we had bumbled around when we were lost the night before.


Riding from Graveyard camp


Riding on the trail south from Graveyard Camp to the Tosh Creek intersection looing to south and the Warner Glacier


Crossing Big Creek. Photo ~I an Chatwell


There’s no actual spot to dismount from the bike and start the hike up to Cluckata Ridge. Like a lot of Chilcotin riding, you look at a map, take your best guess and try to find the least painful way to get up the slopes.


Starting the hike up Cluckata Ridge


Looking west along the ridge after gaining the first few 100m


The elevation gain isn’t too terribly impressive. We started from the camp at 1750m. The hike to Cluckata Ridge itself starts at about 1850m. The first and steepest bit of the hike goes to 2100m in a relatively short distance but from there, the rest of the hike-a-bike to the ridge proper is relatively gentle. We topped out on the first part of the ridge at 2250m, then hiked to the highest practical point at just shy of 2300m.

What you get from the ridge is a 360 degree breathtaking view of some lonely seldom-explored country. It’s not often that you get to look down on Grant Creek, Tosh Creek, and see Dorrie Ridge to your south and the entire Dil-dil Plateau to your north.


Cam, Iori and Ian taking in the view. Ian is pointing to Elbow Pass to the east , which we will climb tomorrow.


Looking down Cluckata Ridge to the first bench. Photo ~Dave Diplock


Looking west up Cluckata Ridge. To picture left (south west) is Grant Creek, Iron Pass and the expanse of the Taseko river drainage. To picture right (north west) are mountains surrounding Taseko Lake.


For us sea-level dwellers, the altitude made hiking a bit of a chore. Sharon and Chris both felt the altitude and stayed on the first bench while the rest of us slowly made our way along the ridge as far as we could with the bikes. We then climbed the last pinnacles of the first half of Cluckata Ridge sans bikes and took in the view.


Cam on the first bench taking a breather before resuming climb. The view looks north east to south east.


Beautifully taken panorama off Cluckata Ridge looking north to the Dil-dil plateau. Photo ~Monte Westlund


View looking down to Grant Creek from Cluckata Ridge. Note the avalanche chutes along Dorrie Ridge.


Beginning the scramble to the “peak”" of Cluckata Ridge. Photo ~Ian Chatwell


Group shot on Cluckata Ridge


The top of Cluckata Ridge is a barren place, friendly to lichens and the odd-tough moss patch. It is however a geologist’s dream and as we had a couple of geologist on our trip it took a while for us to drink in the views and get our rocks off. Soon enough it was time to go down. Vince had dragged his bike up the furthest and had the honour of first descent.


Vince enjoying a poster-boy moment descending off Cluckata Ridge.


Vince and Monte enjoying a classic Chilcotin moment


Ian descending


Look ma – no brakes. Iori trundling down what looks like the moon


More of Ian descending Cluckata Ridge


Dropping back down to where green things live. Photo ~Ian Chatwell


Ripping back down through talus and rocks is breathtakingly fast. We ate up what took us an hour to climb in less then 5 minutes. Thinking that we had gotten off easy without any mechanicals I then proceeded to tear a perfectly good dropout off my bike trying to bash through slide alder. After a bit of MacGyvering, I had the bike going again and proceeded to join the group as we made the rest of the way down to the Big Creek trail.


Dropping back down to Big Creek


Back to the grasslands looking north to Big Creek


Classic “we were there”" pose looking back to Cluckata Ridge from the Big Creek trail


We then rejoined our group and headed back making it to camp in very good time. No need to have the search parties out this time.


Back to the barn to Graveyard Camp


Monte heading back to Graveyard Camp. Dash Hill to the north is to picture right


Warren making a picnic table using nothing but a toothpick, a chainsaw and a dull butter – knife. Seriously you had to be there to see it – amazing stuff.


mmmm … dinner. Chicken in BBQ sauce and lots of it.


This fine horse didn’t go anywhere near the barbeque but faithfully hauled luggage for us all trip


Elevation profiles for our short jaunt to Cluckata Ridge and back from Graveyard Camp. Some data loss due to the hike-a-bike

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