Yesterday morning I went in to work for 4 hours and then, since the weather was looking so good, I decided I had better take advantage of it. I rode home, loaded my SX Trail onto the car and headed up to the land of milk and honey. My good friend Scott Tasaka was going climbing up at Chek and I almost cracked and joined him but I could tell in my heart of hearts that the day should be spent exploring established DH trails I had never seen before.
The long and the short of it is that I rode for 4 hours, kind of bonked and got a dehydration headache, packed up and went to Subway to eat something, then drove back out to another area and rode for another hour. It was totally awesome! What I'll do here is list the trails I rode and then give a brief description and how I thought they were.
Half Nelson - I guess this a new machine-built trail that has been established in a effort to create a new trail that has lots of flow to it. I was a bit stale on it...not to say it's bad but a) I heard it cost ~ $50,000 to put in; b) For being a really smooth trail, every time I heard someone exiting out to where I had parked my car I thought they were crashing for all the racket their bikes were making; and c) maybe I just suck at these sort of jumpy trails and prefer more technical trails. Anyways, it's definitely worth checking out but I doubt I would take it down again if I pedaled up there...I'd probably go for Angry Midget instead.
Cortez Planks - Awesome. I think this is an older trail, the bottom of which someone had fixed up a year or two ago and now they've given the top a face lift too. It is super fun! You drop in, hit a small gap, roll over too A-frames and then launch a 4 ft drop before getting into a series of ladder bridges which are really well built and super fun. A short blast but well worth it...highly recommended!
Lowdown - This trail was only pretty good I would say. It's more of an XC trail so on a DH bike it isn't too exciting. It would be a lot more fun on a trail bike like a Trance or a Stumpy I think. There are some big stunts remaining at the bottom of the top section but it doesn't look like anyone rides them much anymore.
Home Brew - This trail is sick! It has also been updated I believe and I didn't have the guts to ride the first three big features but it's my goal by the end of the season to hit it. First you hit a 6 ft wooden step down gap, which shoots you into a crazy kicker gap, which sends you flying off a drop gap that you really have to be cooking for. After that you hit two log rides with drops off the ends which aren't too tough and pretty fun. The second one sends you booking into...
Expecting to Fly - Another awesome trail on which I bypassed the three big gappers. First you hit a small drop gap, then get onto a bridge system that lets you ride above the slash (it's in a logging cut block), and then you hit three step-down gaps all in the 6 to 10 ft range I think. I also want to try and tick this one off by the end of the season this year.
Ditch Pig - I rode all the way up past Angry Midget looking for the entrance to this one. I think I found it based on the 17ft step-down gap I was standing on top of but it sure doesn't look to me like anyone rides it anymore so I gave it a pass. Of note also, the lower section of Ditch Pig (below the Ring Creek FSR) is out of commission also, but it looks like people are still riding out the bottom of the upper section still so there must be some other access point other than the original start to the trail that I need to go check out.
One Man's Garbage - I ended up taking this one down since Ditch Pig looked so unridden. The top section wasn't too bad...nothing special I didn't think, and then the two lower sections are waaay overgrown. There was a trail coming into the top of OMG that wasn't shown on the map so I think people ride the top section of OMG as the exit to that upper trail and then take the double track back down to the Ring Creek FSR and forgo riding the lower parts of OMG.
This is where I broke for some grub. After this I headed back over to park at the top of Perth Drive in the Cul de Sac. I rode up and checked out a few trails...
Highway to Hell - Doesn't look like anyone rides this one anymore either...and it is truly insane; huge step ups, drops, gaps...you name it it's got and they're all bigger and sketchier than you want. This was basically a hike for me and no, I don't mean it was easy...like literally, I walked my bike down the whole thing - ha ha.
Gouranga - This one was pretty fun...steeper, technical upper section that spits you into a faster lower section. A very short ride also though.
A few interesting things I learned was that new school Squamish trails are rated very differently than old school ones. A newer double black diamond usually means that there are some stunts and jumps on it but it can be very doable. The single blacks are usually just harder XC trails. For the older trails, single blacks are actually tough DH trails that I find challenging, and the older double blacks are totally insane with huge rickety old stunts and technically challenging jumps that have tough run-ups, run-outs or both. Also, I learned that just because it's on the new map, it doesn't mean that people still ride it and it will be in good repair.
Alrighty, going to try to get out climbing today. Oh yeah, I also just sent my project about a week ago, called Heifer Down. It's a good 12d on the Circus Wall up at Chek Canyon...a short route but pretty full on the whole way to the chains.