Photo essay: Mount Cartier hike-a-bike

Mount Cartier is a bucket list bike ride for many in Revelstoke. Towering more than 2,000 metres above the Columbia River, many years ago the BC Forest Service established a fire lookout right near the top.

And to get there, they built a trail.

I don’t know when the first people rode a bike down the Mount Cartier trail, but I know it’s a popular heli-drop for people with money, and an epic, grueling push for masochists.

The trail itself is a mix of flowy singletrack, technical roots and rocks and narrow, exposed sections in the alpine not much wider than your bike tire. It’s been improved in recent years as commercial operations started offering trips up there, but when I rode it in 2013, it was still very rough and wild. The top sections especially, where it switchbacks across the massive Greenslide avalanche path, were especially intimidating. One fall, and it’s easy to imagine tumbling right down to Airport Way.

I did the hike-a-bike in July 2013. I was a last-minute invite to a big group of very fit people and I was not prepared. I didn’t pack the right food, I didn’t sleep well the night before, and I’m held up as an example of lack-of-preparation because I neglected to change my read brake pad the night before and instead found myself scrambling to replace it at the summit. I struggled massively on the descent as my energy was sapped and I could barely control my bike.

Of course, I brought my camera with me to document the ride. Taking pictures is also my excuse to catch my breath, and I did a lot of that too.

Here it is – 20 photos from Mount Cartier.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Starting out. Only 15 kilometres and 2,000 metres of climbing to go.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
At the bridge over McKay Creek, where the real climbing begins.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
We ran into a lot of downed trees on the way up, which we cut away as we went. The work gave me a chance to catch up. I helped out when I could, but mostly I was happy to take it easy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Carol supervises as the boys work the saws.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
About two-thirds of the way up, the trail passes an old cabin. Up until this point, the trail climbs through dense forest with no views to be had. Not long after, it opens up.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
When a trail is this long and climbs this much, sometimes it’s easier to just carry your bike.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Or push it.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Finally, the trail skirts the edge of the Greenslide path. It’s the biggest avalanche path over a road in B.C. When it goes, it goes huge!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The higher you get, the better the views get. This is looking over at Mount Begbie (on the right) and the Mulvehill peaks.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
After a whole lot of pushing, and not much pedaling, we near the top.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
And hear we are, on the summit, at 2,610 metres above sea level. Matt brought a beer to celebrate.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The old fire lookout has been restored and maintained and is now the site of a radio repeater. Did I mention the views down the Upper Arrow Lake?
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Looking into the fire lookout, with crazy cloud reflections.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
And the fun begins. This was one of those “pick up the camera and shoot” photos that turned out pretty great.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Nash leads the way down the mountain. It’s a long way down.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Henning indulged me by waiting as I took photos while everyone else sped on ahead.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The trail through the Greenslide is very narrow at points. Revelstoke is off in the distance.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
More beautiful views of the Upper Arrow Lake and the Monashee Mountains.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Nash rides the north ridge, with the summit looming above.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
From there down, no one wanted to wait. I suffered and struggled and eventually made it back to the truck and beer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s