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.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fat Bike Overnighter

Ah, March, when men's fancy turns to long fatbike rides on solid sled trails. 
Beers were drank, plans were hatched, and the forecast looked promising.  Saturday morning had winds, cold and new snow, but clearing was promised, so off went Tony, Paul B and I to points East.
Paul B grooving on lake LaBerge
Cold temps and moderate winds made for a chilly crossing of Lake LaBerge.  Fortunately, the snow was reasonably solid, and we only had to push once or twice.
Warming up
There was about 5cm of new snow, which made for slower going than we hoped, but the trail was rock solid underneath.
Crossing Dirty Dick lake
It's a long climb of Lake LaBerge, then a long descent into what is some very swampy terrain in the summer.
Home sweet home
We were moving slower than hoped, and uglier weather had us re-assessing our intended goal.  We changed plans and made for this cabin instead.  Remember, most cabins out there, while unlocked, are someone else's property, so leave them better than you found them, treat them with respect, and always contact the owner and flow them some sort of reimbursement.  Water was fetched, fire was lit, and BS flowed forth.
Heading out
We followed fresh dog sled tracks the next day after a great sleep and coffee/bacon for breakfast.  It snowed a bit that night, so the trail was even slower, but it was sunny and we were stoked.
Its a very hilly ride
Lots of snow back there
Lots of climbing on the way in met lots of descent on the way home
Dirt Dick lake in the sun
Gotta love riding in March
On the marge of Lake LaBerge
The lake had blow in a bit, necessitating letting air out
It only looked warm
Next weekend??