My friend Guy is a super positive influence to take on bikepacking trips. He always has a new piece of home-made gear to show off, or a new idea to solve a common problem. He never whines, which is good, because we stumbled into a surprise winter adventure…
The Sensible Part
Our first night out was led by our mutual friend Steve O’Shaughnessy, the host of the Bikepack Canada Podcast. Since Steve had to get home to his kids early, he wanted to show off his favourite camp spot within an hour of his home. Steve is very fortunate (and grateful) for the beautiful Lake Enid that sits an easy ride from his home.
In what I think of as the middle of the night, Steve was up and away at 4AM (sorry Steve, we did not get up to see you off). That left us with my speculative plan of reaching a camp spot near Dave White Cabin, about 1000m higher in the mountains. There was ice on the water in the morning where we were.
We Find Winter
Around 30km into our ride, things started to get really scenic, and also somewhat covered in snow. Just a few km later, and a couple hundred metres higher, the somewhat covered became completely covered, and the snow started getting deeper. We hadn’t brought fatbikes, who does for unknown conditions high in the mountains in late fall?
We got to some steep, rocky, snow-covered trail, we pushed the bikes onward. Guy didn’t whine, in fact, he seemed happy, just like I was. We didn’t make it to the cabin, we did make it to some nice larches showing their beautiful golden fall colour. The mountains were stunning. Don’t go, you’ll hate it. We set up camp early enough to eat in the last of our natural light.
We Sleep Through a Cold Night
The cold warning went off on my InReach at some point in the night. That usually means -18ºC, though the temperature on my thermometer was -14 when I got up after sunrise. I am very glad that both of us were prepared, because that is definitely into the realm of cold temperatures. I usually use my jacket in its bag as a pillow and I was within a couple of degrees of swapping it into a jacket and using my clothing bag as backup pillow instead. With my -10ºC quilt, and my hacked Costco blanket, I was theoretically good to about -17ºC plus a wool sweater.
Coffee, breakfast, a ride back to Invermere filled out the rest of our surprise winter adventure in the mountains.
I’m told this area is popular with snowmobilers in winter. I think we may need to go back and try our luck after a few snowmobiles have packed a trail for us. Worst case, we have fun again.
Thanks to Guy Stuart for the pictures of me and the better scenic shots, to Kimberly for the group shot, and to Guy and Steve for being the kind of friends they are.