Sitting around camp the night before the start of our three-day backcountry riding trip, one of our friends exclaimed that they wanted to see a bear. Not too close, but close enough to get a good look. Like most first timers to the South Chilcotins wilderness of southwestern British Columbia, our friends were excited about what they would see and do over the days ahead. The promise of endless stretches of singletrack weaving back and forth from valley bottom to rocky passes high up. Panoramic views of orange glazed mountains and aquamarine lakes. Shuttling by floatplane and the thrill of big descents. What our friends soon discovered is that the South Chilcotins tend to deliver big time.
We were going luxe on this trip: the catered, hut-to-hut, floatplane shuttle package offered by Tyax Adventures. They own several backcountry huts in the South Chilcotins area that provide a base for multi-day guided trips or self-made adventures. All your food is transported to the huts; you can even pre-order beer and wine so it’s waiting for you when you arrive at camp. A friendly camp-host looks after your dining and camping needs, whether its popcorn around the campfire or an extra jacket to keep you warm. There are even rustic showers available to wash the ride stink away.
Keep in mind that luxe is a relative term here. You’re not getting 500 thread-count sheets or a latte served in bed. You have to pee in an outhouse and put on the same shoes that are probably still wet from the previous days creek crossings. But it is luxe when after a long day of riding the camp host greets you with a big smile, a warm welcome and a cold beer; they prepare tasty, filling meals for you (and you don’t have to wash dishes!); and you get to sleep in a warm, dry bag without the confines of a small tent.
Going the hut-to-hut way really lets you concentrate on the riding while someone else takes care of the domestic stuff (you still need to be prepared to do route finding, trail-side bike repairs, etc). Your goal for the day is to get from one camp to the next via a choice of one, two, three or potentially more different routes depending on where you’re starting from and where you’re headed. Whichever route you choose, there is no shortage of climbing or hike a biking. Once you hit those mountain passes though, you’ll temporarily forget those tired legs as you swoosh down the descents giddy with alpine love.
Starting from Lorna Lake, our trip took us over three mountain passes over three days with the finish at Tyax Wilderness Resort & Spa. Some riders do this distance (about 62 kilometres) in one hardcore day. Whether you are fast or not, going luxe or self-supported, as long as you’re prepared for the backcountry and the mountainous terrain, the South Chilcotins will deliver a great adventure.
As for our friends desire to see a bear, we saw two on the first day, three on the second. All were grizzlies. All but one we saw within 100 feet of us, close enough to get a good look.