I had great condtions (being a month later) and it was a fantastic ride.
But in a way, it felt like cheating, as in I broke up a great loop with an almost unnecessary overnight in a comfy cabin. The real way to do this is to link it up as a day ride.
It has everything you want: serious remoteness, fantastic scenery, and (usually) good trails.
Tony D and I had been threatening to link this up for a few seasons now, but the conditions just never worked out.
Well, the conditions didn't seem to be working out this year as we were dropped off, and started slogging up Fish lake into 20-30 KmH winds. But we kept on, neither of us wanting to be the one to bail, and waiting to see what conditions in the alpine were like.
Well, the trail was soft, but not THAT soft, windy, but not THAT windy, so we kept on.
If one keeps up this sort of behaviour, you reach a point where its just easier to keep going, and thats what happened.
By the time we reached Mud lake, the thought of reversing our trail back up the god-for-saken pass was pretty unappealing, so commit we did.
|The point of no return|
Fortunately, the trail stayed firm, and actually got better.
Large Wolf tracks kept us company and reminded us of our place in the grand scheme of things.
Its pretty big country back there, and you really are a long way from anywhere. Its not a ride to attempt lightly, as there is almost no traffic (we saw no one), and you aren't walking out in a hurry.
The ride down the Rose creek valley is one of those sections of trail that should go faster than it does.
Its a net elevation loss, but there are some miserable slog-fest uphills that just seem to go on and on.
|A skiff of snow covering the trail|
We came upon a large herd of Caribou that inhabit this incredibly beautiful area.
You could smell them as we stood and watched them for a while.
|Tony loving the bomber trail conditions|
Once you are finished with the meadow section, there is a long-ish climb through the divide over to the headwaters of the Watson, and the land of downhill bliss. More or less.
The upper Watson had a surprise in store for us; overflow!
|Falling off and smacking your head or breaking an elbow has serious consequences out here|
The overflow didn't last too long, and we were back on good trail in a Km or so.
|Upper Watson river|
The trail stayed very good from here on. A dog musher had been the last to use it, and mushers make great bike trails. Smooth and fast!
We made great time down the Watson, although the effects of 7 hours of riding were begining to tell.
Although its a bit busy, you can get a good idea of the trails conditions by the track points. The Watson sped things up considerably.
We ended up riding the last hour and a half in the dark, and I was glad to have brought along my NiteRider 750.
Once we hit the Alligator lake road, and more fresh musher tracks (bliss!), it was a downhill rip all the way to the connector trail which heads over to Annie lake.
Of the connector trail, which is about 2 Km, and all downhill single track, railing it in the dark, with the NiteRider blazing the way, Tony declared it to be the most fun he has ever had on a Pugsley.
The last few Ks got a bit much, and a couple short punch hills had us whimpering, but we made it to the carpark at 8:30, with a very happy Starbuck (Tonys pup) ripping out to great his master. Sierra had been waiting, er, quite a while for our return. I just had to bike the last 1Km out to the cabin and Michelle and dinner.
As Tony loaded up, we both agreed it was the best ride ever, and while it might not have been an epic, it was certainly within spitting distance of one.
11 hours, ~120 Km.