Day 8 – Queen of the Mountain

It had rained all night, which is great for the trails, except that it was still raining. Dan messaged me in the morning and said as much, that it would be a miserable day on the hill and Sunday was looking a lot better. So we decided to postpone until tomorrow. That meant I had the whole rainy day to fill. Hiking was out since any views to be had would be clouded over, so I slept in a bit and decided to hit some cross country MTB stuff in the valley.

Over a breakfast of bacon and eggs (during which I set off the smoke alarm, sorry Dave who was sleeping upstairs) I got Trailforks (a great app that every mountain biker should have) up and looked at my options. Using that with Sheilagh’s mountain bike guide to the area, I planned out a route that would take me from the trails at Creekside, up to Green Lake, then around Lost Lake. I wrote everything down and got as familiar as I could with the trail system, then got my shit together. I packed lunch and snacks (discovered I still had one piece of banana bread in the fridge, win!) and tried to decide what to wear for the 10oC rainy conditions. I settled on shorts, a thermal and my windproof jacket. Getting organised was a lengthy process because of the rain and getting things in and out of my car. In the process I discovered that water was leaking in through the seals where the roof rack straps enter the car. I knew this from previous experience, but that had only been during a short downpour, not extended rain. The fallout wasn’t too bad, so I put up some preventative towels and she was right. Finally packed and feeling a bit cold without my rain jacket, I rode off. It was around 11am.

Needless to say, it was cold. My first heading was for the Rainbow-Flank trail behind Creekside. To get there, I thought I’d go up the downhill trail called Sproatt. DUMB IDEA. It was hike a bike all the way. There was no chance I was getting over all of those roots and rocks in the dry, let alone the wet. Boo. Anyway, I stuck with it, missed my connector trail at least twice, then finally hit the Flank trail. This was a wide piece of track used as a connector for a selection of downhill trails, all of which I rode past. At “Bob’s Rebob”, I joined some other riders heading in my direction. Turns out it wasn’t a few riders, but actually racers. I had joined a Whistler race! I pretty much binned my plan, knowing now that it would be way too long and figured that these guys would be on the best trails. It was helpful to have people and bright pink ribbons to guide me! I quashed my competitive streak and got out of everybody’s way as soon as I could see them behind me, but I was keeping up with some people after letting them by! After “Bob’s Rebob” was “Get Over It”. This and “A River Runs Through It” were the top trails of the day. Tricky in the wet, but doable and super fun with a lot of timber bridges of varying thicknesses.

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They flowed, they went up and down and were challenging. My best moment was hitting a bridge that was two meters off the ground and started about a foot wide but narrowed to about half that. Infront of me was a racer walking his bike so he’d either fallen off or not attempted it. I took a deep breath along the 10 meter narrow section, but made it! Woo!!

At the end of “River”, was the end of the race, where I was applauded, which I thanked them for but said I wasn’t racing. One volunteer was clapping along, then said, “Oh! You’re not racing!” and stopped applauding immediately, arms folded. Ha ha. I found a bench in Rainbow Park by Alta Lake to scoff my wrap for lunch (I was well past hungry having only had my banana bread on the trail). I think it was around 1:30pm. I didn’t last on the bench too long, it was too windy. I had more food and rest in a spot a bit more out of the wind, but couldn’t stay too long because I was getting cold. I did a bit more route planning, then headed off to Lost Lake. This was on the recommendation of Dan because he liked the trail called Yummy Numby.

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On the way there, I hit “Chop ‘Yer Bars” which was an ok loop, but nothing too exciting and somehow I got a bit lost at the end of it. At Lost Lake, I loved the blue trails that run south to north along the east side of the lake. There must be about 10 of them, starting with “Peaches En Regalia” from behind the bike hire place to “Son of Mr. Green Gene”. They flowed super well and you hardly noticed that it was a climb. At the top, I got to a viewpoint of Green Lake, which lives up to its name. Thankfully it had stopped raining so I could eat a Clif Bar and admire the view. Again, couldn’t stay long because of the cold and it was also getting past 4pm, so I was now concerned about getting home at a reasonable time.

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I continued north on the Green Lake Loop, which was mostly hike-a-bike because the hill was so steep and I was buggered. I took the first turn off onto “Yummy Nectar” to get over to “Comfortably Numb” which is one of the famous trails in the valley at 9.8 miles in length. According to the guidebook, it takes some people seven hours to complete it! Why? Because it’s a super long technical climb, except for the last bit that I would be doing, which would be mostly downhill. “Yummy Nectar” is where I made my QOM (Queen of the Mountain on Strava). A QOM in Whistler!! Very excited, but kind of a bullshit QOM because I really don’t think people ever come this way. The trail was a little overgrown and not really rideable in the wet. Not by a cold and exhausted Sarah anyway. I was happy to hit the trail junction of “Comfortably Numb”. This is a beautiful trail that traversed over big boulders covered in moss off the riding line. There was a bit of hike-a-bike during the first section due to my tiredness and slipperyness, but I was happy to be on the home stretch. Eventually the trail trended down and I found a rhythm again. I had the option of doing the whole descent on Numb, but decided to take Dan’s recommendation of “Yummy Numby” because it was shorter. Time was getting on and the rain had started again. “Yummy Numby” was great fun. Lots of small rocks and roots, which was just doable in the wet, it made for a good last challenge. It was the perfect way to end the ride, especially because of the bridge that lead to a rushing creek and another that went straight over the top of it.

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Eventually I hit fireroad and I followed that down to the village. At this stage it was thoroughly pouring down. I had planned to hit a much needed bike wash station before heading home and get some more water because I was feeling dehydrated, but I decided that I just needed to gun it home as fast as possible. This I did, along the roads and the highway. I could have taken the valley trail, but I didn’t want to get my phone out and navigate to it, so I just took the simplest, most direct route. I’m sure everyone that drove past me thought me a complete dick. I was totally drenched right down to my socks and underwear. I was already trying to contemplate getting everything dry before tomorrow’s bike park ride. I rode my heart out with the little energy I had left.

I felt sweet relief when I rode up the driveway of my rooms. Before anything, I grabbed the hose and washed the bike off, put it under the house then began the ordeal of getting inside and getting dry. Hot shower! While in the shower, since no one was home, I resolved to go back to the village for a hot, hearty $5 meal instead of the leftovers I had in my fridge. Out of the shower, I put a load of washing on. Perfect since I was out of underwear and had a pile of drenched clothes. The washing machine was easy enough to figure out thankfully! I was back in the village by about seven. I walked past the line up for a table and seated myself at the bar where I ordered two meals and a coke. The bar was roudy with Australians and there was ice hockey on the TV, but while I waited for food, I worked on my journal. When food came, I just did food. Spaghetti and these fried dumpling things with something in them that tasted just great.

At home, I walked in as Graham was coming to the house and Sheilagh was home cooking up a storm. We’d both had dinner, so we watched as Sheilagh and Dave ate a baked salmon (it looked fantastic). I told them about my day and we chatted this and that. Honestly I think Sheilagh and I could talk for days. After dinner Dave cut up a giant watermelon while I cracked a beer. Watermelon tasted sooo good. Dave also put me onto the boot warmer downstairs to dry my shoes. A wonderful contraption usually used in the winter for ski boots, but perfectly adequate to solve my wet shoe problem! With that sorted, Sheilagh and Graham retired to Graham’s place and I to my room to fold my washing and hang out with Enrique the cat. It took him a while to be sure, but eventually he jumped into bed with me demanding pats from a complete stranger per the normal cat behaviour. I swear he’s not as evil as he looks.

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I went to sleep, dreaming of single track. The quality and challenge of the trails aside, I had been riding in some of the most beautiful forest I have even seen.

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