Voyage To The North

Voyage To The North

By Nick and Kim Hardin 

 

“Heeyyyyy…. You’re dropping me!”  


“Say it again!” I said as I pedaled ahead, dropping Nick like a bad habit, as I pedaled up Morning Mountain in Nelson, BC. Being somewhat pint sized has its perks - you can ride under low trees, sneak tiny hands into small spaces, and most importantly pedal your e-bike at a higher level of assist than your buddies if you’re looking to align battery burn rates. 


 

After nearly three weeks on the road, we were well into our road trip groove - Wake up, smell the coffee, run the doggos, and be on trail by 10am. We pedaled until dusk most days - never driving more than 4 hours between destinations, and made sure to enjoy all the local eats & swimming holes. Starting in Whistler, we slowly made our way to Sun Peaks (Kamloops), Revelstoke, Golden, Retallack & finally Nelson.


What started originally as an adventure + climb 3k everyday sort of trip turned into a hit all the bike parks on our Wreckoning’s and ride as much trail as we could in between on our Epocalypse’s - the perks of getting sick. After a few weeks of jump progression on Dirt Merchant and D1 at Whistler with “Jimmy”, Kim’s “when shit gets real'' alter-ego, we were keen to keep it going - In classic Hardin style, we sought out all the spicy hits & loamers, climbed until our batteries died, and we ran out of daylight. When our e-bikes died, we’d throw a leg over our Wreckers, and keep on going - because why not? Nick was keen to set record air time, and on occasion, “Jimmy” would show face, and join the party. 


From Whistler, we headed East to Sun Peaks Bike Park for a quick flow check on the way to Retallack. Sitting in the mountains above Kamloops, Sun Peaks is a decent sized bike park, complete with everything from tech steeps to flow jump lines, not to mention, a complete lack of lift lines and braker bumps. We embraced the park rat mentality, camping in the parking lot, and lapped open to close for a few days - Highly suggest checking out a full Steam Shovel for bigger hits, Stella Blue & Bad Habit > Super Nugget for flowy no-stress jump lines. Big ups to Ted Morton of the Canadian Enduro Series for his creations! Prefer hand built trail? Check out the trails across the way - small climbs for rad descents, such as El Dorado!


On our bucket list, of course, was Retallack Lodge. Deep in the BC Kootenay’s - known for epic handbuilt singletrack & heli-shuttles. If you’ve followed Freehub Mag or watched any mtb shreddits, chances are you’ve heard of it. If you haven’t, you will now - consider it a backcountry experience with optional heli-biking. Book yourself three days at the lodge, and get shuttled up steep mountain roads in a converted Army 1078 truck complete with open air bench seating, speakers blaring with your pre-hype jams. Retallack is a very special place high above New Denver, BC with roots back to the old Freeride days - old step-down relics and new mega-booters line the roads as you realize you’re in Kurt Sorge’s training grounds. It doesn’t take long to realize the heart and soul put into the trail network here - Legendary guides Mike Kinrade, Johnny Smoke, and some new up and comers such as Sik Vik and Adam have poured their blood, sweat and tears into endless ribbons and berms of high alpine trail. All trails are considered blue rated with “black circles” and open sight lines - turn up the speed, pull for doubles and you’ve got a ripping trail that keeps the pro or expert rider on their toes, while providing plenty of fun and entertainment for the intermediate rider. Finish off the day with welcome-back apres, a visit to the creek for a quick cold plunge, a stint in the hot tub or sauna and you are refreshed and ready for some Neglin at the bar. Challenge the bartender to a game and you’ll quickly be shotgunning Kokanee’s. The last day, if weather allows, grab a heli (or two!) to Texas Peak - blast off the top via a shale chute and descend over 6k to the valley below via drifting shale berms along the way. Mind the mine-shafts - this area was heavily mined for Galena, a mineral mix of silver, iron and gold. Don’t be surprised when you think it can’t get any better - it does. As you drop into the final stretch of the alpine basin, you’re greeted by Black Elvis, a BMX style flow trail with big berms, shark-fins and hits along the way. 


In a Retallack hangover of sorts we headed North to Golden BC - land of big mountains & wide glacier fed rivers at the base of BC’s Glacier National Park. We were greeted by the Selkirk Mountain Range as though we were in the Alps - small town, good food, and a great variety of riding. Kicking Horse Resort, while small at first glance, packs a punch and features some of the most unique woodwork you’ll ever ride - think chutes & ladders into toilet bowl’s high in the air- all wood that will have you spinning dizzy! Take the gondola to the top for a 4k descent each time - mind the views of the valley below. Grab a beer at the base and enjoy the views of the valley below.


When in Golden, you’ve got to ride it all - for shits and giggles, we rode a SingleTrack 6 stage incorporating the CBT and Moonraker Trail networks, with the Canyon Creek descent being a highlight. Exposure was the theme, as canyon walls rose up from below - don’t miss the next turn! Rumour has it, T4 Ridge > LSD > Canyon Creek is $$$ if you’re in the area. While in Golden we checked Mt. 7 off the list as well, beating the incoming moody weather - it was snowing at the top, but still awesome - Dead Dog > Summit - Moonshine > Skid Marks > 10k > 5k.


Fast forward a few days to Revelstoke - since our pedal tour more recently turned into a bike park tour, we thought it only appropriate to check out Revelstoke Mountain Resort - home of Dark Horse. While we were bummed the Dark horse jumps were closed, our favorite line quickly became Fishbonker - Doomsday - End Game. What better way to end the day than with a Caesar on the beach at Martha Creek, and a burger from Big Eddy Pub & Grill. In order to maximize our trail time here, we decided to break out the e-bikes. On a single charge, we rode about 30 miles and 7k climbing each day, riding both the UFC > Ultimate Frisby & Boulder Mountain trail networks, with the exception of Frisby Ridge itself (no e-bikes) - can someone please tell me why you can take a sled up in the Wilderness area in the winter, but you cannot take e-bikes up in the exact same place in the summer? I call bullshit - end of rant. 


UFC > Ultimate Frisby is a must-do classic, and typically the end of an out and back Frisby Ridge. It starts out with a rollercoaster of natural doubles, slowly pitching into dusty, tech ruts that descend all the way to the base of Boulder Mountain. Boulder Mountain is an absolute playground - steep fall line tech, loamers, wooden features, jumps & gaps. Most notable were Rooster>Cash Advance and Bike Club. Our Epocalypse e-bikes made quick work of the climb up, even in eco mode and absolutely destroyed the descents. The lower center of gravity gives a littler extra confidence boost on steep chutes, offering great stability and support when needed. Lap after lap, we managed our batteries in eco to complete a full 7k on our last day, with plenty of time to spare at LunaFest - a “Sound” and “Nocturnal Art” Festival worth attending if you’re ever in Revelstoke in September. Friday features musicians playing in four different venues all throughout the night, while Saturday features local art hung in alleyways as “Alleries” . Think everything from life-size bears made out of tires to metal eagles lit up by various colored lights.


Morning broke to pouring rain - as we headed South, we had high hopes to ride Lost Boys, one of our local favorites, but the weather gave us unrideable conditions. Southbound to Nelson it was!


Nelson, BC is one of our most favorite places on Earth - it reminds us of our home town in so many ways, but with trails of steep loamers and slabs over the fast flow trails of Hood River. Good food, great people, and epic trails make for a good time, everytime. This trip we decided to settle in for a few weeks, and hit all the goods. Interesting fact - Nelson is another old mining town with old bike trail relics everywhere. According to the locals and BC trail bureau, you cannot build any new sanctioned trails “with” gaps, however, any existing trails with gaps you can develop and rebuild all you want. It makes for an interesting blend of old and new school as you can almost see the progression of freeriding in the area. After all, it is Kurt Sorge’s stomping grounds….expect awesome.


—-

As we continued to climb into the clouds to the top of Toad Mountain in Nelson, BC, on one of the last rides of our trip, the snow began to fall. We pedaled up as high as we could until it was just too deep and time to turn down.  Dropping into Upper Powerslave amidst what we thought was a Grizzly Bear growling nearby (was actually a chainsaw, ha!) - we descended past mine shafts, old relics of Silverking mine, lapping loamers until we killed our batteries, about 6000 ft of climbing and 30 miles later. That evening, the sun came out, and we snuck in another lap on our Wreckonings, just as the sun was setting, a perfect end to our trip!




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