At this point in the day, there was no way to know we were heading up to a trail from the hardest possible direction. We were full of energy, the sun was shining, and we had at least 12 more hours of daylight to enjoy the pristine alpine single track awaiting our arrival. Things couldn’t be better!
While doing my research a few weeks earlier, I had spotted an alternative route onto a spectacular ridge line connecting Mt. Thurston, Elk peak, and Mt. Mercer as opposed to a hike-a-bike up the main hiking trail. I couldn’t find any literature on or off line suggesting that mountain bikes were contraband on this section of trail, but given the current climate of hiker / mountain biker relations, and having adventurous companions, we chose the back way.
Early on, we came across a fresh cut-block with new roads altering our original course. We traversed piles of logs precariously perched on steep slopes switchbacking up the hillside until we rejoined our original route. The scorching August sun was on us now. With a grade too steep and loose for pedaling, plumes of dust arose from every step, sticking to sweaty exposed skin. There was no stopping as the black flies were maddeningly persistent and voraciously ravenous.
Hoping for solace in the alpine, we pushed on and past where the trail should have started. Finally, after retracing our steps, a ragged line of flagging tape made its way into the sub alpine scruff of stunted trees and huckleberry bushes and disappeared. I guess that’s our “trail”. Enter bikeshwacking mode - a head down angry push forward by any means necessary. After nearly an hour of grunting, slipping, swearing, and pulling our bikes, we emerged onto a steep, narrow ridge. Sweeping views of Mt. Baker and the Chilliwack valley to the left and rugged ridge after ridge rising from the mighty Fraser River to peaks unknown to our right. And in front of us - a trail.