Driving up through the Duffey Lake road towards Lillooet is one of the most breathtaking drives in Southwestern B.C.
Huge mountaintops reach for the sky as brilliant blue glaciers cling to them in the summer heat. If you're lucky like us, you will also see deer, bears and other wildlife from
the roadside. A cool dip in one of the many lakes is a must.
At the end of July, my group of three was making our way to the Shulaps Mountain Range to ride some of our favourite backcountry trails. Our home was right on the edge of Marshall Lake, which is a serene lake with awesome camping. Once we set up camp, we grabbed our chairs and drinks and hit the lake for some relax time.
Early the next morning, we loaded up the truck and made our way to Mud Lake south, some 30 kilometres away, and unloaded our trials bikes ("trials" motorbikes are used for specialized non-speed, obstacle course-like riding). This dirt bike area has been around for more than 35 years, but what makes it special is that due to the high elevation it is only open for a few months a year thanks to snow and inclement weather.
Trials bikes are the perfect tool for exploring this area. Their low footprint allows you to become a motorized hiker traversing more than 100 kilometres a day and reaching into areas that would take four times as long by foot or mountain bike.
The initial trail climbed quickly up through a tight alpine forest with lots of steep corners so that we were gaining altitude fast. After about 20 minutes the trail opened up and revealed unbelievable wildflowers as far as the eye could see.
We just stopped and sat in awe looking at the brilliant sea of red, yellow and blue bordering the 50 different shades of green. It was awesome! We continued on the trail up and out of the sub-alpine and into the rocky shale alpine at 7,000 feet. It now felt like we were on the moon traversing wicked trails that led from mountaintop to mountaintop. At 8,600 feet we found the perfect spot for lunch and enjoyed killer views in every direction.
After lunch we descended into a pristine alpine lake. The crystal blue water shimmered in the afternoon heat and I could not resist taking a dip in the freezing cold water while the others sat back and watched.
Back at camp that evening we enjoyed a hearty meal around a giant fire and shared the experiences of our day with a few other campers before going for a midnight swim.
The next few days had us traversing the Shulaps mountain range to the Yalakom Valley and other secret spots, enjoying incredible lakes, jaw-dropping vistas and seemingly endless single track. This is one of my favourite areas, and it is cool to share it with horses, hunters, miners, loggers, and other users who have been using this area for more than 100 years.
Dave Norona is a North Vancouver resident and a regular contributing writer to the North Shore News. His stories appear in the Live section of the Sunday issue of the paper.
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