Chilcotins – Day 3 – Elbow Pass – Spruce Lake Horse Assisted Trip

After yet another leisurely breakfast, it was time to break camp on a beautiful day in the Southern Chilcotins. Our destination today; up Graveyard Creek, then over to Elbow Pass and tentatively – to hike the ridge between Elbow and Lorna Pass and descend via Lorna.

Breaking camp. Photo ~David Diplock

Load ém up, move ém out. Photo ~David Diplock

Heading into Graveyard Creek’s drainage, the views just kept getting better and better. The mare’s tail of clouds made for a surreal sky.

Looking south down Graveyard Creek to Elbow Pass

Heading into Little Graveyard Creek

Looking south into Little Graveyard Creek – Elbow Pass dead ahead.

Looking north from Little Graveyard Creek back to Dash Hill from where we came

Iori on the fast approach to Elbow Pass up Little Graveyard Creek

Little Graveyard Creek and the beginning of the climb

Routefinding is easy here today. We basically followed Little Graveyard Creek to the top of Elbow Pass; about as straightforward as you can get. The trail gets steep rather quickly and you will be off your bikes and pushing – typical Chilcotin ride, hike and slog. Luckily the views make up for it.

Iori taking in the views looking to Elbow Pass

Vince cleaning a section of the Little Graveyard climb. Photo ~I an Chatwell

Monte on the hike-a-bike with the shale avalanche slopes of Elbow Peak in the background.

Monte approaching the group near Elbow Pass

The climb itself isn’t that remarkable. Again, it’s the altitude that gets you hiking and biking from 1800m to about 2100m. As with almost all climbs around these parts, the views are worth it.

Monte with Elbow Peak as the backdrop. Elbow Pass is the saddle on picture left. Behind Elbow Pass is luckata Ridge, where we stood yesterday.

View looking south east down from Elbow Pass to Tyax Creek and back west to Elbow Pass proper

As we were relaxing and taking in the 360 degree views, our reverie was interrupted by the approach of a horse pack train. For some reason, the group decided to scupper its plans to take in what would have been a stunning hike and bike of the Elbow – Lorna ridgeline and rush down the Elbow Pass trail. It’s still a fun ride so off we went.

Pack train that had just crossed Elbow Pass approaches the Little Graveyard – Elbow junction

Payback singletrack descent down Elbow Pass

Ian releasing the brakes on Elbow Pass

Sharon on the Elbow Pass downhill

What with the two busted dropouts I’ve already had, you would think my mechanicals are over. Wrong …. I flat and the horse pack catches up to me.

Bring spare tubes for rocky fast Chilcotin downhills

Iori and Ian – yes we can fly on two wheels

Iori descending to Tyax Creek

Iori with the Elbow Pass descent in the background

Lee descending Elbow Pass. Photo ~Iori Kokatailo

It was over too quick and a mistake on our part not to maximize our time in the alpine. My suggestions, if you have a less impatient crew, is to hike the ridge between Elbow and Lorna Pass. Allow an hour for that hike. Either drop into Lorna Pass or ride the ridgeline between Elbow Pass or Lorna Pass.

Lee descending Elbow Pass part 2 – Photo ~Iori Kokatailo

After the quick descent from Elbow Pass, we’re at camp – much too early in the day. Apparently the out-and-back trek to Lizard Creek and Lizard Lake is a fun ride and has a good view of Trail Ridge, Mt. Solomon and the Sheba Ridge terrain. Off we go – hike-a-biking away.

Vince in his element – putting the Heckler through its paces.

We find Lizard Creek but only after getting lost a few times, and almost having to tiptoe through a Chilcotin Mountain Holidays camp.

Approaching Lizard Creek from the Deer Pass junction

Another lesson learned – trust your map. Do not trust shaky beta from strangers or guides without maps.

Crossing a “North Shore” stunt over Lizard Creek

It’s a short relaxing ride in and out from Lizard Creek. We don’t really make it too far as the trail is overgrown past a certain point so we get to take in the usual typical glorious Chilcotin views.

Cam and Dave riding with a view of Trail Ridge and Sheba Ridge from the Lizard Creek drainage.

A now – standard sight of consulting the map. Photo ~Dave Diplock

Another Chilcotin standard – finding that the rest of the trail will be a tough bushwhack. Photo ~Ian Chatwell

On our way back from Lizard Creek after our failed attempt to go swimming in a cold alpine lake, Monte and I got our chance to check out the views to our next expedition, Little Paradise Creek – Manson Creek and Paradise Col as an alpine traverse. Could be a very interesting project – but for another time

View of Little Paradise Creek to Paradise col alpine traverse NE of Tyaughton Creek as seen from Lizard Creek Drainage

The good thing about getting back to camp early is having a lot of time to eat. As always Tanis outdid herself and we spent the rest of the beautiful warm day taking in the bright rays of Chilcotin sunshine and drinking in the big views.

Sunset over the Chilcotins at Tyax Camp.

View north from Tyax Camp to an alarming looking avalanche slope. Fortunately this area is in a rain-shadow and does not apparently get a lot of snow.

Looking SE down Tyax Creek towards Mt Sheba and the unpolitically correctly named Sheba’s Tits

Traditional cowboy camp Chilcotin fire

Distance covered was more along the lines of 28km as a bug in the Polar HRM turns off the odometer reading if one stops for too long. Total ascending was a very relaxed (approx.) 600m

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