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.