New records were set in the Cariboo Mountains last weekend at the fifth annual 7 Summits Bike and Hike Challenge.
Participants in this annual event ride through the historic townsite of Barkerville, BC as the head to the Cariboo alpine to complete seven stages of hiking and biking over the course of a long day in the mountains. Ultimately, seven mountains later, participants arrived in the picturesque town of Wells to celebrate their accomplishment.
(CLICK HERE for the Quesnel Cariboo Observer’s story from September 17, 2011 about the Challenge.)
70 participants from every corner of British Columbia were drawn to this “Day in the Mountains.” Why does this event draw a dedicated crowd from around BC? The answer lies in the beauty of the North Cariboo mountains, which, combined with the social aspect created by the organizers and volunteers, keeps participants focused on fun above competition.
Dawn saw the throng riding up to their first alpine hike over two summits, and across a subalpine forest to their third summit, before passing through the town of Wells in their first leg. This may be one of the few events that includes a mid-day break in a cafe with hot homemade soup and sandwiches.
This precedes the second assault on the mountains to claim the final two peaks, and three passes. The combination of hiking and biking on established and historic trail systems takes people on a fabulous tour of the North Cariboo Mountains in one exciting and acheiveable day.
Participant Andrew Cant remarked, “What an experience. The most gratifying physical thing I have ever accomplished.”
The 7 Summits Bike and Hike Challenge is billed as a day tour that takes you to seven mountains, in seven stages, with over 7,000 feet in elevation gain, in just one day! The emphasis for this event is on challenge, not race.
In addition to the usual first, second, third, there are prizes for seventh place, the most average time, and for the best poker hands (there is a card on every summit). Not only is the course spectacular, but the sense of camaraderie, the pre-race events on Friday night, and the fabulous awards banquet all come together to make for a great weekend in the mountains.
New course record setter, Peter Findlay of Kamloops said, “This truly was a memorable experience, and the happy faces, upon completion, showed how much of an accomplishment it really is for everyone. It was truly a magnificent event.”
This year’s mountain weather was cool and sunny, sprinkled with the odd Cariboo squal that made carrying your jacket worthwhile! It was perfect weather for fast travel in Alpine environments. With 70 participants, there was a wide variety of completion times from a mere five-and-a-half hours to over 13 hours.
Co-organizer Cheryl Macarthy said, “We say in the literature that two old guys in moderate shape did this route in 11 hours with breaks for photographs, meals and contemplation.”
The most average time award is meant to recognize this concept of appreciating where your are. In an event which saw an almost equal split between genders, this year’s average time was set by Lou Brisco of Quesnel at just under 10 hours.
Event organizer Dave Jorgenson was thrilled by the results. He said, “Everyone commented on how happy this event makes them feel. Here’s our ultimate goal: to get people to experience the mountains, acknowledge and respect our alpine treasures, connect with the history, and have a great day. Clearly, it’s working.”
The 7 Summits Bike and Hike Challenge was created at the Bear’s Paw Café in Wells, and is sponsored by a variety of local businesses, and supported by a cadre of dedicated volunteers. The entry fee includes the hot lunch, prizes, unique pottery participant awards and more. This event is the recipient of an ‘Environmental Stewardship Award’ from the Wilderness Tourism Association. All the profits from entry fees go to support the Friends of Barkerville and the Cariboo Goldfields, whose hard work has helped to preserve the many historic trails on which we are privileged to travel.
For more information about the 7 Summits Bike and Hike Challenge visit www.7summitsbikeandhike.org.
For photographs or additional information, contact Dave Jorgenson firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-994-2345.
Here are the route maps for this year’s Challenge: