May 1st, 2015
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Stewart and Northern BC Spring Road Trip

We left Interior BC on April 1, making our first stop in Valemount where we found good snow up high. We rode for 2 days and kept an eye on the weather farther north… and began to see the makings of a 4-5 day blue sky window, so we planned to head to Stewart on Day 3 of our trip.

 

Stewart Bound

We left the snow in our rearview just west of McBride. Immediately thoughts crossed our mind—are we putting in 12 hours behind the wheel just to get skunked? Should we have stayed where we knew the conditions were good and were forecast to get better? Wait a minute, we are going to Stewart! The excitement of seeing a new area—one rumored to have endless alpine, a 4m snowpack up high and recent snowfalls totalling over 60cm—erased those thoughts right away.

The drive into Stewart takes you through one of the gnarliest, avalanche prone stretches of road I’ve ever seen. The valley can’t be more than a few hundred meters wide in most places. Towering mountains end abruptly against the narrow valley floor, which in some places is no wider than the road and the creek next to it. Part of the way through, a glacier terminates into a small lake almost at sea level. The setting sun cast a sharp light on the western slopes of the peaks above us. Needless to say, we were pumped!

 

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Welcome to Stewart

The next day after a quick breakfast, we crossed into Hyder, AK. We drove a few kilometers until we hit snow, then began the first trip into the largest riding area I’ve ever seen! It was a grey day—sort of limiting, considering treeline is at about 1000m there. But the visibility was good enough to see the immense Salmon Glacier below us and tons of great riding terrain. The light got better late in the day allowing a viewing of several other glaciers, some more treeline riding and a few more glaciers!

 

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Over the next three days, Mother Nature came through for the boys with nary a cloud in the sky, mild temps and not a breath of wind! I put almost 500km on my machine exploring massive icefields, pounding out deep pow turns and climbing shots that seemed to take minutes to get to the top! Have you ever run your sled in the mountains at 60km/hr in a straight line for 10 minutes, then turned a corner and done it again, then again, and again, while never retracing your steps and only looking out for crevasses and new lines to shred?! I have now and I’d do it again in a second!!

 

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On the third day in Stewart, we learned the weather was about to turn. We got in one more amazing day then began the discussion of our next stop. Our crew of four decided to split up—two heading back to check conditions in Valemount, and two heading all the way back to Golden to reset and confirm rumours of great spring conditions on our home turf. The boys had a great day in Valemount, but the decision was made to finish the 2 weeks in our own backyard!

 

Getting it Good

We had spent four days riding great spring conditions! A little snow each day and evening meant a reset for the following day and progressively better riding at higher elevations. Unfortunately the new snow did not cushion the tree that my sled—while riding on its own—had made contact with, which put a slight damper on the trip briefly. However, being able to ride the thing out and grab another sled brought our positivity right back around!! Fist pump and a big “F’ YEAH!!”

 

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The riding is far from over up high around Stewart and Northern BC! I hear Terrace and area received up to 1m of snow up high last week… it’s not in the cards for me though. At least not until next year!!

If you haven’t seen these areas, you need to go. Maybe we’ll see you there. We’ll be the ones with a fist way up in the air & grinning from ear to ear!

 

— Chris