Friday, September 19, 2014

Wheaton River Lower Run

Last weekend was looking to be the nicest of the fall, so Dylan and I hatched some quick plans to paddle the lower Wheaton river out to Bennett lake, camp overnight, then cross the lake and back to Carcross.
It was wonderful.
The lower Wheaton rarely gets run, not due to any technical difficulties, but its usually choked with wood.  A major rain event earlier this summer pretty much flushed it out, and with the exception of some sweepers and one log jam, it was clear albeit shallow sailing.
The colors were at their peak, it was warm, the camp site at the mouth of the Wheaton is 5 star.
We spent a great night around the fire, enjoying a beer.
We were up early, as the wind was fierce and we wanted to get across before it really picked up.
It was fine bobbing across in the PRs though.
We took out and walked the railroad tracks back to Carcross, as it was faster than paddling.
Dylan had suggested bringing packs, but I said we wouldn't need them.  Wrong.  We carried the gear hobo style, but it worked out.
Summers pretty much done.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

O'Donnell River Upper Canyon

The O'Donnell is a cool little river near Atlin BC.  The lower run, which is by far the most popular, is a fun river for tandem canoes, with lots of tight maneuvering in rock strewn canyons.  Log jams can and do add to the challenge.
I have paddled the lower run numerous times in a 16' Mad River Freedom, but never checked out the upper run.  Rumors had it as class III in tight canyons, a bad run for canoes.
We thought it sounded great for a pack raft run.
Run-off water levels are essential for the O'Donnell, as it is a low volume river with lots of rocks.  Other rivers are running strong right now, so we figured it was time to take a drive to Atlin.
The same cast of characters from the Arkell trip met up at Warm bay south of Atlin on Friday night.
We piled into Tony's trust FJ and made the drive in to the upper river put in.  The roads in good shape right now with minimal mud and only one nasty wash out which is easily navigable with care.
We had one casualty on the way in.

We blew up in a stiff, cold south wind and hit the river.
It winds though really cool meadows with the odd old placer mine (and associated old equipment) along the banks.  In short order you hit the beginning of the canyon section, with the odd rock and ledge appearing.
Apologies for poor image quality, lots of water on the lens.
The next few Kms down to the lower put in are super fun.
We scouted two blind corners with lots of rock in them, but  all the drops and rapids are really clean with no wood.  If I run it again this summer, I wouldn't scout at all.  Always wise to check for wood after any high water event.
It was over too soon, and we passed the lower put in and were on the lower run.
The river stays fast though, and with the odd rock to dodge, you soon hit the first of the smaller canyons.
One has a nasty log across it that while not terribly life threatening, ruins the good line.
Bad shot, but you get the idea
A fun rocky traverse allowed us to avoid the portage along the canyon rim.
The lower portion of the river near Atlin lake has tons of log jams which suck with a canoe, but are speedily dealt with carrying only a PR.
We hit the lake at 5:30 and paddled back to Warm bay under sunny skies and in 5' swells.
Awesome day trip.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Arkell Crick

Another creek that has been begging for a pack raft trip.  Arkell creek.
Flows into the Ibex near its confluence with the Takhini.  We'd wondered about if for years.
Last weekend, that itch was scratched.
Anthony, Paul B, Dylan, Rob and myself headed into the Ibex valley last Sunday to give it a go.  Had a false start when Robs Frontier found the biggest ruts to fall into.  Fortunately, Mario lives nearby, and Mario has The Goods.
He very handsomely leant one of his many monster F-350 4x4s, and in short order the beast had yarded out the wee Nissan.
Back on track, we continued on and found the old horse trail.  Pleasant walking had us down to the Ibex lickety split.
We followed the horse trail up Arkell creek after first verifying there was actually water in the damned thing. There was, barely.  But at some point, man had that thing been in flood.

Crossing The Ibex

The Whole Area Had Been Flooded In The Not To Distant Past

The horse trail was very well defined and offered fast walking up the Pine flats next to the crick.
Eventually the crick narrowed and steepened as we got into the mountains.  Lots of griz sign.

As I said, there was enough water, barely.  We blew up at a point where the creek upstream looked just too bouldery.
The water was actually pretty deep, but the boulders were plentiful and large, so we pumped up the seats extra full.

We had great fun bouncing and splashing down.  A couple of corners were spicy enough to keep your attention.

It would be fun to go back with another foot in it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Aishihik River

Yup.  That time of year again.  Break out the pack rafts.
Not much is open right now, but the Aishihik from the Yukon Energy tail race is.
Right where the tail race from the hydro site and the West Ahishihik join, its open water all the way to the Alaska highway.
Anthony, Paul B and Dylan were keen to get wet, so Saturday we headed to Canyon, stashed the bikes for the shuttle, and headed up to the put in.  The East Ashihik is still ice bound, which is fines as its probably not pack raft friendly, at least at high water.
We had to drag for about 1 Km until we hit open water.  Lots of shore ice, some debris in the water here and there.  No rapids, but we got to get in the water.
Nice bike back to the put in.  Saw a great big old wolf.  Cool.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Friday Creek

Yet another great loop of moderate length.
Dylan was up for an exploratory ride this Saturday, and I had "heard" this loop was in.  It was.
It was cloudy and snow squalls obscured the hills and mountains, but clearing was promised.  We parked at the Watson river trail head and made our way into the alpine towards Alligator lake.
Friday Creek
Turned up Friday creek on good dog sled trail, following it up the valley and on to Coal lake.
We both fell victim to a big chunk of ice which toppled us.  I had enough time to wonder how Dylan was handling the crash when his Nate made contact with my head.  Not as bad as his pedal in my shoulder.
It must have looked great from afar.
The occasional steep hill gets you up on some nice eskers
Pedaling down Coal lake was fantastic.  Sheep watched us from the hills.
Coal lake in the distance

On Coal lake

Once you leave the lake, you follow a great trail through the woods until you pick up the trail the dog sledders use from Fish lake.  Follow it to a high pass where you cross the Coal lake road, the follow a super fun valley down out of the alpine to Fish lake.  Follow the lake back to the parking lot.
Really great 50 Km ride.
Go do it.
Topping out on the Coal lake road, just about to begin the long descent.  Yee-Haw!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Another "Best Fat Bike Ride Ever"

Through more good fortune than anything else, someone cancelled their trip into Rose lake cabin this pat weekend, and I was able to weasel into their place .
Conditions were perfect.  The weather was perfect, and Josh, Sierra and Tony were stoked for a trip up the Watson river, overnight in the Rose lake cabin, then out.
I suggested going back out the Watson, as my previous foray into the Rose creek valley had shown it to be a snow-less, tussocked slog fest.
However, Sierra was keen on the full loop, and who am I to argue against a good suffer-fest?
Saturday dawned stellar and -20C, but a late start had up spinning up the Watson river trail in noon-ish warmth.  Did I mention the trails were as good as winter trails can get?  We could have ridden cyclo-x bikes in there.

At some point, Sierra said that this was the best fat bike ride ever.  I've heard that before somewhere.  She was right though.
Break at the Big Bend cabin

We ran into a group of dog sledders out on a tour.  The French client looked a bit shell shocked.

After the big bend, the trail climbs into the highlands between the Watson and Rose creek.  Lots of overflow, which the cold temps had locked up tight.

Sierra stylin with her Ninja green Porcelain Rocket bags

Sandpiper Peak poking its head up in the distance 

Sierra and her Ninja always win most photogenic

Did I mention it was sunny?  Oh man, it was awesome.  Cruisin through the singletrack in the woods, long descent down to Rose creek meadows, good times.
Josh in the snow less meadows

Josh, look, a jet!

We sidled into the cabin about 6 hours after departing.  Felt very welcome indeed.  The fire was lit, water fetched, and relaxing commenced.  I brought a beer and some chips, Sierra brought a Mai-Tai mix.  Fat times.
After a leisurely breakfast of bacon, omelettes and coffee, we packed up and hit the trail about 9:30.  Gotta let it warm up a bit.
The long climb up from the lake had us good and warm.
We would take the left valley, we came in on the right the previous day
 Some poking around finally revealed the best trail through the willow flats on Rose creek.  Remember when I turned around on my previous trip?  Pretty low snow.
Ninja stealth triumphs on ice!

It was a loooooooooong, bumpy grind up Rose creek.  Occasional smooth patches were the exception.  It was quite warm too, so we were stripped right down until we hit the treeless expanses of upper Rose.
Eventually, all bad things pass, and we made it to where I turned around previously, and the trail improved drastically.
Hammer time

It was a pleasure to stop and chill out on snowless eskers, enjoying the late March sun.
Ninja warrior and Ibex mountain

The long descent from Ibex lake was a blast.  We rocked, rolled and giggled our way down the seemingly endless series of whoop-de-doos right to Fish lake.  A mysterious recent snow fall had covered up the nasty glare ice, and we all settled into the long grind down the lake.
However, Sierras friends Monica and Jen had ridden up the lake with Cheese-vursts and cider.  What a treat!  Yummy calorie bombs (as Josh christened them) toasted over the fire with StrongBow to wash them down.  The last few Kms passed quickly.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Evening Fat Bike Rides With A "Big" Feel

With longer daylight, and great weather, riders around Whitehorse now have more options for after work rides.  One of these evening rides that has a "Wild" feel to it far in excess of its length is the Bonneville lakes loop.
Start at the Fish lake parking lot and head up the lake.  Alternatively, you could head down the creek towards Jackson lake and do it the other way.  Starting up the lake means you have a push up to Bonneville, but you get a super fun long downhill ride.  If you do it "backwards", you have a long, mellow climb ending with a short, steep plunge down to the lake.
Pick yer poison.
Looking down to Fish Lake from the alpine

The dog sled/snowmobile trails are rock solid, and much of the snow has blown away.
Fish Lake behind the hill

Follow the often obscured trails North, then pick up the obvious track heading back towards Jackson lake.
7 PM and lots of light

There really is not much snow
Enjoy the long, whoop-de-dooed run down to the creek, then back to the parking lot.  22Km.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fish Lake to Rose Creek

Everything looked optimal for a repeat of "The Best Fat Bike Ride Ever", that is, the Fish lake/Rose Lake/Watson River loop.
The trails were "in", we haven't had snow for a bazillion weeks (this is critical later on) and the forecast was for fine.
The grind up Fish lake is getting to feel like going to work, I've certainly made it enough times.  The trail beyond Fish was bullet proof.  Once into the alpine, it was clear that there wasn't going to be much snow.
Ibex Mountain Looms in the Distance
 Where one can usually cruise on smooth sled/dog sled trail, it was mostly hummocks and rocks, with the occasional drift thrown in.
Kinda Sorta Like Summer

The trail seriously deteriorated past Mud lake, and when I dropped down to Rose creek, it was pretty much bare, frozen swamp.  The next few Kms to the meadows where you pick up the Watson River trail are badly tussocked, and need lots of snow to fill it all in.  Didn't have any snow in fact.  So after 40 Km, I turned back.  It was just way to rough.  I had a satellite phone with me, so I phoned Michelle and let her know not to leave the truck  at the other end for me.
Mud Lake
 It was a bummer that the loop isn't "in shape" for this year, as the lack of snow has everything rock hard.  The big thaw and high winds in January really did a number on the back country.
Old Camp at Mud Lake
 By this time the wind had really picked up, so I had tailwind all the way back.
The West end of Fish lake is a serious skating rink

Michelle road out and met me on her new birthday bike 

Still, got in a great, long ride on an amazing spring day.