Mountain Bikaneering in the Chilcotins – Part 1

Day 0 – Vancouver to Mowson Pond

350 km, 6 or 7 hours driving

My decision to join the trip was made only a day or two before departure, so planning (on my part) was non-existent and packing was a mess of things that I had no idea if I needed. I only knew that my bike needed to be running smoothly and that I would likely need some spare tubes. The plan, as I was told by Emily, was to fly up to some lake in the Chilcotins and spend five days biking back. As per usual, I had no idea how radventurous the trip would finally be.

The Tyax float plane base in on Tyaughton Lake, near Gold Bridge, BC, and Emily’s sedan was fully loaded with Shawn, Christina, Emily and I plus all the gear we could bring. Since it didn’t seem to want to climb the steep mountain pass (over the Hurley) we drove over the Duffy to Lillooet, then turned west and around Carpenter Lake (above) until we set up camp at dusk on the damp shores of Mowson Pond.

Sunrise over Mowson Pond

Day 1 – Tyaughton Lake to Iron Pass, via Taseko Lake

Distance traveled: ~18 km, Elevation gained/lost: 1000 m/-325 m, Average slope: 7%

Aiming to get the first flight out with Tyax Air we make a hasty breakfast. Tim and Leah arrived with our bikes some time later in the night and the group is now fully assembled. The Beaver’s battery was dead, so we could take our time prepping gear and loading it into the old plane. Our group of six needed two flights, so Tim, Leah and I hung around the beautiful lodge and pretended to be guests.


Emily, helmet on and ready for the ride

Then it was our turn to fly straight at Mt. Dickson… The colours and topography blend into a surreal landscape of wide valleys with colourful peaks cascading down into lush forests and meadows bursting with wildflowers. Awesome!

Beachfront restaurant, on the menu today is hard-boiled eggs. Tripadvisor rating: 4.6

Dagnabit, I must have left the keys in my other bike shorts…

Tim navigates the first, and perhaps smallest, creek crossing.

The “trail” is a hundred year old mining road  that heads roughly west from Upper Taseko Lake. The track steepens significantly as we start up the Powell Creek drainage and passes through a crumbling mining camp. Hot blue sky is slowly being replaced by clouds and by the time we break through treeline the wind chills and we can see rainbows up near our destination for the night – Iron Pass.

Nice view after a long day of working down the mines

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja) is in full bloom

It’s beautiful, but do we really have to camp up there? Incidentally, Emily neglected to bring a rain jacket was spent the evening in a haute couture garbage bag.

Christina practicing the “pushing” component of Mountain Bikaneering on some ironsnow

A confused Emily and Christina survey the moonscape.

Day 2 – Iron Pass to Big Creek

Distance traveled: ~18 km, Elevation gained/lost: 700 m/-750 m, Average slope: -8%

The sun comes out early the next morning and we wake to an alpine wonderland… This was definitely the right place to camp.

Alpine wilderness

An Iron spur of Battlement Ridge.

After an island breakfast, we push up to Iron Pass through a couple of hundred meters of rubble and moss.

Tim dancing across the headwaters of the Powell

Top of Iron Pass – Six happy riders about to drop down towards Big Creek.

Tim shredding some August pow.

Emily, with her now well-practiced happy-fear-grin.

In the Chilcotins, snow shreds YOU!

Tim participates in another attempt at surrealism.

All kinds of colours.

Yours truly, detonating some wildflowers.

Rated 4.5 on Tripadvisor for alpine picnic spots, just had to check it out.

Watering and resting the steed.

Random fact – there’s two tarns on the backside of that ridge.

One of my more successful experiments with surrealism

Gingers UNITE! (in the shade…)

The posse rolls east and out of the waist-deep shrubbery

Tim and Leah draining down to Big Creek

Christina taking the grandeur of Big Valley, with Lorna Lake just out of sight at the foot of snow-capped Mt. Warner. We made camp here for the night, with our kitchen just on the other side of the meadow between Big Creek and the trees. Leah has an amazing photo of star trails this night, taken before the huge moon lit the whole valley up.

2 thoughts on “Mountain Bikaneering in the Chilcotins – Part 1

  1. Great TR and photos! We’ve ridden lots in the Chilcotins but this is one trip still on the “to-do” list. What backpacks and tents did you use? Also, what did you pack for food, especially dinner? Dehydrated stuff? Thanks!

    1. Thanks! The ride back from Taseko Lake is awesome and exhausting, maybe because we brought so much good food and booze! We definitely had some dehydrated stuff, but we shared packing duties and ate great food every day.

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