Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Larch Hill Traverse

This one 38 kms epic has been on the checklist for a while! Each year, Skookum Cycle does an organized a group ride in the fall but for some reason, it never really worked out in the schedule. Last weekend, we decided to go down to Salmon Arm and add a check mark next to the Larch Hill Traverse. We started the traverse from Salmon Arm in the South Canoe trail network. We decided to ride some of the single track on our way up to the Radio tower just to make for an even longer ride. The trails were in amazing shape with just enough moisture to allow for good gripping! Out of the single tracks, we climbed up to the top of the active logging road to meet up with the Larch Cross Country Trails. From there, we biked along double tracks for a while connecting the different Cross-Country trails all the way to the warming shack. From there, we covered a bit more of logging road before getting out on some single tracks again. We broke out of the forest on some twisty trail through cut blocks. We had to stop and take a break since the

views looking down the valley at Shuswap Lake were amazing. A thunderstorm made us accelerate the travel pace… (wow thunderstorm… what a surprise…). We kept on following the undulating single tracks on slightly overgrown forest. Some trails section were definitively more flowy then others. The traverse took us on different bits and pieces of single track. Towards the end, there were great viewpoints looking down on either side of the ridge at Mara Lake and Shuswap Lake. The final descent is really what made the traverse. We dropped down 400m of twisty single track with tricky switchbacks. The dirt was gripping just enough and we giggled our way back down to the highway… we were laughing a bit less when we ended up hitch hiking for about an hour under the rain on the side of the highway before getting picked up. Oh well, it was part of the whole experience! I’d say, the traverse is a really fun way to connect Salmon Arm and Sicamous. The trails are fun but sometimes have a bit of a hard rhythm to follow so you have to keep the head up! There are a lot of little descents with sudden steep short climbs, which breaks a bit the flow of the ride. Also, I’m sure with local knowledge of the cross country trails, there is potential to skip some of the logging road riding to make for an extended ride on double or single tracks. In all, it was a fun day and a great opportunity to explore a new trail really close from home!

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