Packing for the Chilcotins Basecamp Trip

Float plane interior...

Float plane interior…

Two important considerations when packing for the trip are:

  • weight limits for the float plane [100 lbs flying in and 70 lbs flying out [per person]
  • bulk/ease of loading

The weight limits are obvious. Since we are using all of the plane’s carrying capacity it’s best to err on the side of caution and keep your gear 10% less then your max weight allowance. This particularly important coming back because your gear could be wet and weigh more than when you flew in.

Besides weight the gear you bring has to fit into the plane and has to be easy to load unload. That means avoid bulky items and pack everything as neatly as you can. Leave the family camping tent at home and pack your gear into a couple duffel bags.

If we end up with too much weight or too much bulk when we are packing the plane stuff will get left on the dock and there is no telling what will get chucked.

Rather than go through that let’s all pack smart and avoid any hassles. 🙂

Spruce Lake Base Camp Sample Gear List

Gathering the gear...

Gathering the gear…

Here is a sample gear list for the August Spruce Lake Base Camp trip.

Bike

  • Mountain bike [recently serviced & running like a fricking machine!]
  • Hydration pack + bladder
    • Tools
      • Multi tool w/ chain tool
      • Mini-leather man
      • Tire levers x 2
      • Pump
      • Shock pump
      • C02 to seat tubeless tire w/ 3 cartridges
      • Tire plugs and tool for tubeless tires
  • Supplies
    • Spare tube x 2
    • Patch kit w/ extra patches and glue
    • Duct tape small roll
    • Zip ties x 10
    • Small bottle of tubeless sealant
  • Chilcotins map
  • Emergency windbreaker
  • Spare top layer
  • Food x 1.5 days [in case shit goes sideways]
  • Headlamp [w/ fresh batteries]
  • Space blanket/emergency bivy
  • InReach or SPOT emergency beacon
  • Small F/A kit
  • Bear spray
  • Bear bangers
  • Folding saw
  • Fox 40 whistle on lanyard within quick reach
  • Bike helmet
  • Elbow and Knee Pads
  • appropriate clothing for the weather

The gear below will be packed into two large duffel bags for easy loading and transport on the Tyax float plane.

Camping

  • tent [waterproof]
  • pegs and guy lines
  • sleeping pad and repair kit
  • sleeping bag [good down to 0 deg C]
  • extra tarp for rain and cord to hang it

Cooking

  • stove & fuel [extra fuel for 1 or 2 spare days]
  • Lighter
  • Pot
  • bowl
  • Fork, knife and spoon
  • Pristine water purification drops
  • Small camp suds and small scruber

Toilet

  • TP
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lighter
  • T-brush + small paste
  • Small camping soap
  • Folding Ortlieb camp basin for washing
  • Lip shit
  • Eye drops
  • Ibuprofin
  • Diaper rash cream for irritated skin in the butt area
  • sunscreen

Misc

  • camera + spare battery + baggie if not waterproof
  • GPS & batteries
  • Bug spray
  • Bug net/shirt
  • Dryer lint [fire starter]
  • folding saw [campfires and blow down on trails]
  • spare head lamp batteries
  • book to read

Food

  • freeze dried camp meals x 4 [1 per day]
  • canned meals x 3 [1 day + some extra]
  • oatmeal x 2/day = 12
  • nuts
  • jerky
  • pepperoni
  • apples
  • chocolate
  • gummy bear
  • rice krispie squares
  • scent proof bags
  • bear bag
  • rope and carabiner
  • beer & wine

Clothing

  • Rain jacket
  • Rain chaps/Pants
  • Puffy insulated jacket
  • Baseball
  • Sunglasses
  • Toque
  • Long johns
  • MTB gloves
  • Fleece gloves
  • Pants
  • Swim shorts
  • Riding Jerseys & Shorts [4 jerseys and 2 shorts]
  • T-shirt x 3
  • LS-shirt x 2
  • Socks x 5
  • Underpants x 5
  • Sandals

Chilcotins Aug Basecamp Trip – Must Read #1

Chilcotins scenery...

Chilcotins scenery…

Here are some important points to consider so your upcoming Chilcotins trip goes off without a hitch.

Backcountry Biking

You are headed deep into a remote part of BC’s backcountry. That means amazing scenery, wildlife and few people. It also means you need to stay safe and healthy so you can get back out again. Ride safe. If you get hurt or damage your bike getting back to civilization will be very hard. So always ride conservatively and leave yourself lots of safety margin.

It’s far better to walk your bike for 10mins then try and ride a tough section and get hurt.

This is not a guided trip!

You are not embarking on a guided bike trip. Nobody is being paid to look out for you or ensure you have a fun/safe time. You are the only person who is responsible for what happens to you.

Ride within your limits and don’t start any rides that are not safely within your limits.

Research the information about the area. Buy and study the Spruce Lake map. Carry that map with you when you ride. Know where you are and how to use a compass/GPS to get you where you need to go.

Carry a suitable first aid kit and know how to use it.

Fitness

Unlike Victoria area riding the Chilcotins trails are less technical, but longer and faster. You need to be able to cover a lot of ground and to ride hard all day on back-to-back days. Get out on some long road rides and crush as many all day epic mountain bike rides as you can before August rolls around.  This is particularly important if you are a slow rider. You don’t need to become a superhero, but you do need to ride at a moderate pace comfortably for 5-6hrs at a time.

The Gear Flights In/Out

Tyax Air will be flying our gear/food/drink into Spruce Lake. You can take 100lbs in with you and 70lbs out. Bulkiness/size also matters so don’t bring anything that won’t fit easily into a small floatplane. Weigh your stuff at home and don’t bring too much weight. Pack your stuff so it’s easy to load and unload.

The Ride In

The whole group has to ride into Spruce Lake from Tyax Lodge. That’s ~25kms and it’s uphill. The pace will be reasonable, but the key will be to ride consistently without stopping too frequently. That means you need to be able to ride efficiently, manage your food and energy levels so you can keep going. When we do stop take advantage of the time to eat and adjust your gear so you can ride solidly for the next stretch.

Camping

We are a big group and it’s hard to know how many folks will be camped at Spruce Lake when we get there. It could be totally just us or there could be another 10-15+ people. So be flexible with your expectations for camping. We may need to put tents close together or spread out to find spots to pitch them. It would best if we are all using backpacking tents and leave any family size mega tents at home.

Bring a tarp and extra rope in case we have a lot of rain.

Bear Safety

We are in grizzly bear country so bear safety is critical. Mainly this means keeping our camps clean and storing our food appropriately. There are metal food lockers at Spruce Lake, but there is limited space in them. So it’s important to have some rope and a bag that can be used to hang your food if you can’t fit it all into the lockers. It also means bringing compact food will be easier to store.

Any food discards need to be burnt in our campfire. Any garbage has to burnt or stored with your food. So think ahead and pack food in ways that don’t generate a lot of garbage or packaging that can be burnt in the fire.

Every rider should be carrying bear spray and bear bangers plus a Fox 40 whistle. You should also know how to use these items. Bear spray in particular has a very limited window of effectiveness in terms of range.

Having a bear bell attached to your bike is a good idea.

Buy a bear safety book and read it.

Cougar Safety

The first hint you will have that a dangerous cougar is stalking you is when its jaws are closing down on your neck. Fight like your life depends on it because it does! Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen. Any cougar you see in the distance is not a cougar you need to worry about. The best [only] thing you can do to avoid a cougar attack is to stay in a group and never ride/hike alone.

Garbage

Anything that you bring with you to Spruce Lake has to be consumed, burned or carried back out. Be prepared for that and plan what you are bringing with that in mind. Can & bottles are going back into your bags for the flight out. Paper and organics can be burned.

Group Rides

There will be one group ride per day. You don’t have to join the group ride. If you do join the group ride you need to stick with the group unless you clearly let everyone know you are going ahead/turning back. Most rides will be out and back so fast folks can do their own thing and go off ahead. Slower folks can turn back early when they have reached a distance that suits their abilities.

The group pace will be determined by the speed of the slowest riders. That means if you are a fast rider you need to adjust your riding to be compatible with the group or do your own thing and skip the group ride.

You should never ride alone. Always stay with your ride partner and work as a team.

Ride Partners

Everyone will have a ride partner. You can pick this person or if needed we’ll pair up any singles. You don’t leave your ride partner alone – ever! Except for bathroom breaks and even then you make sure they come back in reasonable amount of time. You ride together. You eat together and you stay safe together.

If your partner breaks their bike or hurts their shoulder and has to walk back out to Tyax lodge you are going with them. So it’s important you look out for each other and remind each other to ride like you can’t afford a bad crash.

Bike Gear

Backcountry biking means you need to carry more gear than you would on a day ride at home. Consider the following for your pack:

  • Water
  • Water purification drops
  • Food for 24hrs
  • Headlamp [check your batteries]
  • Emergency space blanket bivy
  • Lighter & fire starter [ie. dryer lint]
  • Rain jacket
  • Extra LS thermal top
  • Tools
  • Spare tube
  • spare emergency kelvar spoke
  • spare set of brake pads
  • Tubeless tire plugs + extra sealant
  • Pump
  • Shock pump
  • Spare length of chain and quicklink
  • Small roll of duct tape or electrical  tape
  • Some zipties
  • Spare clipless pedal cleats and bolts [if you swing that way]
  • First aid kit
  • SPOT/InReach emergency beacons

This means you’ll need a reasonable sized pack.

Navigation

You will have a map and a compass or GPS. You will know how to use them. You need to be ready at anytime to find your way back to camp or to the Tyax Lodge. Practice your navigation skills before you get to the Chilcotins.

Buy the South Chilcotins map: http://www.trailventuresbc.com/maps/south-chilcotin/order-chilcotin-map

Weather

We will be in the mountains where weather is unpredictable and changes rapidly. Snow, rain, freezing temperatures and uber hot 35 deg C+ weather can all happen and maybe will happen in the same 24hrs.

Be ready for anything.

Bugs

Depending on the weather there can be quite a lot of flies and/or mozzies. Consider a bug shirt and or bug spray to repel the beasts!

Bike Maintenance

Your bike is your ride in and out. If it breaks you are in for a heck of a walk.  Get it fully inspected before the trip and maintain it properly.

  • Check all of the frame for damage
  • Overhaul suspension at both ends, no play, properly lubricated, properly setup
  • Headset properly adjusted, lubricated and not worn out
  • Stem properly installed and undamaged
  • Bars undamaged
  • Grips installed correctly and comfortable for all day rides
  • Wheels trued, strong enough for your weight, bearings lubricated and wheels properly installed in your frame
  • Tires not worn out, not damaged and installed correctly
  • Drivetrain clean and not worn out [check your chain for wear]
  • Shifting works perfectly
  • Check shifter cables for wear
  • Check brakes – solid braking power, pads not worn out, rotors/calipers true and adjusted, hydro lines not worn/damaged and properly bled
  • Seatpost undamaged, droppers operating properly and well maintained
  • Saddle comfortable for all day rides, undamaged and installed correctly
  • all bolts tight

Pack spare parts in your luggage as needed. Have some chain lube and a couple rags with you to service your bike on the trip.

Rest

The ride in and the ride out are not optional, but the other days are optional. If you need some rest Spruce Lake is gorgeous. Pack a book and a bathing suit so you can enjoy some down time if you need it. Respect your body this is a holiday!

A 5yr old did a harder trip!

A 5yr old did a harder trip!

This trip sounds awful!

If you stack up all the possible problems/risks/challenges of a backcountry trip into one post it can sound pretty grim. The point is that not all these things will happen and you have many months to prepare yourself as well as your gear so that the few issues that pop up are not a major problem for you. The key to a fun backcountry trip is being prepared.

  • grizzly bear on the trail? – no problem scare it off with some bear bangers from a safe distance
  • broken spoke, cable or chain? – no problem you have packed spares
  • rain at the top of the pass? – no problem you have a rain shell in your pack and a spare pair of dry gloves to put on
  • riding too aggressively? – no problem your ride partner will remind you that the nearest emergency room is a long ways away
  • got separated from the group? – no problem you have a map and a compass so you can find your way back to camp

As you can imagine all those situations above could be pretty awful if you didn’t prepare for the trip properly.

You don’t need to become a wilderness biking expert and you can ask questions/get help with your preparations from folks with more experience. So don’t let the process intimidate or overwhelm you. You have plenty of time to tackle each item one at a time.

To put it into perspective we did a Chilcotins tour last year with a 5yr old and a 9yr old and we carried all our food/camping gear with us [no plane support]. A much harder trip and the kids had no problems. 🙂

Chilcotins Links

Some trip reports and area info to get you stoked and better prepared.

Chilcotins 2014 Mountain Bike Tour

chil1

Another tough day of riding in the Chilcotins…

Here is the 2014 Chilcotin Tour Plan. We’ll be updating this post as the trip develops so come back once in a while to see what’s shaking.

Schedule

  • Drive to Chilcotins 12 July [Tyax Lodge]
  • Fly out to start 13 July
  • Riding 14-19 July
  • Drive home Sun 20 July

**Note – dates have changed since initial emails went out.

Route map...

Route map…

The Route

The tentative route [we’ll get a map up here soon]:

  • fly to Lorna Lake
  • ride up Lorna Pass and back [optional bonus pass!]
  • camp at Lorna Lake w/ campfire feast and fiesta!! [13 July]
  • Grant Creek Trail west
  • over Iron Pass [#1]
  • Warner Pass Trails east
  • over Warner Pass [#2]
  • camp at Warner Lake [14 July]
  • Deer Pass Trail north
  • over Deer Pass [#3]
  • Tyaughton Creek Trail NW
  • camp north of Deer Pass [15 July]
  • Elbow Pass Trail NW over Elbow Pass [#4]
  • Big Creek Trail north
  • Graveyard Creek Trail south
  • camp at Graveyard Cabin [16 July]
  • over Little Graveyard Pass [#5]
  • Little Paradise Creek Trail SW
  • over Little Paradise Pass [#6]
  • Tyaughton Creek Trail SE to Deer Pass Trail south
  • Camp north of Deer Pass [17 July]
  • over Deer Pass again!! [#7]
  • camp at Hummingbird Lake [18 July]
  • Gun Creek Trail east
  • back to Tyax Lodge
  • camp at Tyax Lodge and party!! [19 July]

On the map above we’d fly into the blue dot on the left which is Lorna Lake. Ride counter-clockwise around the loop that is formed by the pink highlighter [our actual route will go off the map to the east than come back in towards Warner Lake]. Then clockwise around the loop at the top of the map. Back across Deer Pass to the south along the green pen and then back to Tyax Lodge [yellow dot way to the right] along Gun Creek Trail.

I don’t have an exact distance for this route and frankly that number would be meaningless without knowing the condition of the trail and the elevation profile. Bottom line each day will be long and filled with challenging riding.

We’ll also plan a route that we would bike the whole way without a plane. That way if the plane can’t fly due to weather or a mechanical problem we aren’t stuck.

There will be some steep uphill pushing...

There will be some steep uphill pushing…

Physical Difficulty

The ride will be physically challenging with a significant amount of hike-a-bike. This will include pushing your bike up steep passes with loose scree underfoot.  We won’t be going out of our way to kill anyone, but 7 passes in 6 days is a lot of going up. So be ready for big days back to back.

There will be some fast flowy buffness...

There will be some fast flowy buffness…

Technical Challenge

Riding unloaded bikes the technical sections of these trails are solid intermediate challenges. However, there is some unrideable steep and loose terrain both up and downhill. There are big sections of these trails that are easy as well.

The rough sections of the trails get quite “chunky”. Some suspension could be appreciated.

Keep in mind you’ll be carrying camping gear and lots of food so stuff you might ride on a trail day ride will be pushing territory in the Chilcotins. Better to hike-a-bike than to get hurt!

Suspension is not essential, but reliability is!

Suspension is not essential, but reliability is!

Equipment

You need:

  • a reliable MTB [rigid, hardtail or FS]
  • a way to carry the camping gear and food you need
  • lightweight camping gear [tent, sleeping bag & pad, stove + fuel+ pot]
  • versatile clothing that can handle a wide range of temperatures and weather
  • comfortable grippy shoes you can hike in

Weather

Expect warm days and cool nights, but given we’ll be in the mountains be ready for the worst. You should have rain gear and wear clothes that don’t get soaked and dry poorly like cotton.

Safety

You’ll be travelling deep into the backcountry away from easy medical help. We’ll have a first aid kit and a satellite messenger device to call for help. However, you need to ride like you can’t afford to get hurt. A rescue operation will not be fast or easy or cheap.

You may want to consider supplementary medial insurance that covers rescue operations.

Cost

Here are some things to consider for budgeting:

  • float plane trip ~$225/person assuming 4 pers in a plane
  • gas to/from Tyax Lodge
  • camping at Tyax Lodge at start/end $20/night [free camping available ~10mins drive away]
  • food for 7 days
  • any gear you need to buy/rent/repair for the trip
  • medical insurance
Victoria to Tyax Lodge...

Victoria to Tyax Lodge…

Getting There

From Victoria:

  • drive to Nanimo
  • take ferry to Horseshoe Bay
  • drive to Pemberton
  • take Hurley FSR to Gold Bridge [rough rocky road not for low slung cars]
  • drive to Tyax Lodge
  • count on 6hrs+ to get there

Can anyone come along?

No.

  • You need to be a solidly intermediate mountain biker who is physically fit and able to look after yourself and camp in the backcountry.
  • You need to be an easy going person who will get along with the rest of the group.
  • You need to have a reliable bike that you have maintained and inspected just before the trip.
  • You need to carry basic bike repairs tools, supplies and know how to use them.
  • You need lightweight camping gear and a way to carry it that you can mountain bike with.

So if you want to join the trip drop us a line with some personal info.

When do I have to decide if I am in?

Bottom line you need a spot in the float plane to get the start. If you miss out on the float plane you can book a flight the day before and wait for us to arrive or you can ride to the start if you want to add a couple extra days to the trip.

To get a spot on the plane for sure –  booking in January 2014 would be a good idea. You can leave it until later, but you risk not getting a seat. We’ll nail down all the key details by Dec 2013 so you have everything you need to make a solid choice.

You book by the plane load [4 people + bikes + gear] so you need 3 other people to book a flight with you and you + bikes + gear must stay under 1100lbs. So 4 big guys might not want to fly together!

Flights get booked through Tyax Adventures here.

Links to Chilcotin Riding Inspiration and Info