October 3rd, 2003

Chilcotin - SPRUCE LAKE

It takes about 5 hours to drive from the busy streets of Vancouver to the uncrowded wilderness of the Chilcothin. If you take a look at the map, it doesn’t look like much. It's about 2 hours max to Whistler, then another 3 hours along some rough roads past Pemberton and up the Hurley Pass road to Gold Bridge.


Getting to the Spruce Lake area of the Chilcotin is a pretty magnificent drive. We are unloading our gear and at the trailhead at about 11. It is already 22 degrees when we start! In October! Our starting point is 1350m altitude.

Chai and Gina start the climb. Look at the fall colors and get used to them,

More fall colors. We start our climb at about 1350 m and by now we are at about 1600 m. It is getting warmer and warmer. It's a good thing this is a nice gentle pace.

Now would be a good time to show a detailed map. This is a pretty old map in 1:250,000 scale from the late 80s. The start point is labelled START - duh. We climb towards Taylor Pass; the trail is somewhat haphazardly marked with a dashed line.

Steve takes a moment to reflect on how small we are in a land of BIG mountains. The peaks to the west of Steve in the background are in the Eldorado basin and are 2300 - 2400 m peaks totally devoid of vegetation. They are red because of high iron content. This area was known for gold deposits back in the old days.


The trail steepens a little as we work our way up to Trapper's Cabin. This is a small cabin used by snowmobilers, heli-skiers and other backcountry types. The north facing slopes above Gina are at about the 2300 m mark. By now we are feeling the altitude being the sea-level dwellers that we are.

Here are Chai - my brother, Gina and Peter taking a break at the Trapper's Cabin. We are now at about 1900 m and 11 km into our ride. and loving the sun and heat. Incredible weather for October. We have yet to see a cloud.

As good a time as any to sit in the sun and have something to eat

Here are Peter and Steve working their way up the climb from Trappers Cabin up to the first pass we hit today; Taylor Pass at 1545m

Here I am leading out Peter in the bunch sprint up to Taylor Pass


My brother Chai impressed me today. Not the most experienced of riders he managed to pace himself well and keep plugging away. Here he is bringing up the rear at the top of Taylor Pass at 2100m altitude and 13 km into the ride.. This last climb is steep and I know I am feeling the lack of oxygen.

In between Taylor Pass and the next ascent to Windy Pass are these gorgeous meadows. The contrast between red and yellow is difficult to capture on film but you can see how the iron has colored the hillside. This meadow is at 1850 m


Steve and Simon enjoy the views and the sun.

View of the climb as we start to Windy Pass

Another shot of Steve starting the climb up to Windy Pass.

The Windy Pass climb is both beautiful yet painful. The altitude and heat are something else. Its now over 30 degrees in the exposed meadow. The trail has the consistency of cement powder and traction is non-existent. Most alarmingly, any attempts to work hard result in extreme bloodrush to the head and mass wheezing.

Chai stops to take a break.

Chai climbing with some unknown peaks in the background to the east.


Finally here we are at the top of Windy Pass. Gina and Simon strike a pose at 2250m.


Peter makes it to Windy Pass in good order. He looks a little disbelieving when I tell him that the climbing is practically over.

The landscape around Windy Pass is a stark moonscape. Here is Gina descending into the Sea of tranquility

Gina again with peaks slashed from the earth by old geological upheavals and Tyaughton Creek's erosive power in the foreground

Nice artsy shot of Windy Pass looking east

High alpine grass shows amazing resiliency along the side of singletrack at 2250m.

and here I start down Windy Pass. I don't believe that this snowfield on the north - facing side of the pass ever melts; I wonder how long it's been there.


Click here for part 2

Click here for part 3

Click here for part 4