4 guys, 4 bikes, 9 days, 225 km
Kenny Smith, Margus Riga, Fraser Newton, Chester Bush.
Words by Chester Bush and photography by Margus Riga.
Chapter One: Waving Good-Bye
Chasing the Hog. But what’s the Hog? Well this is the question. The Hog is the quest of getting somewhere… or a form of suffering. It’s not the destination. Nan. It’s the Hog. We would fly from Tyax 200 km northeast to Tatlayoko Lake and find our way back from there. The plane was loaded and our intentions were made clear to the pilot. It was evident in his response that he thought our plan was intense… It’s hard to explain the feeling of being dropped off in the middle of nowhere.
Chapter Two: Bracewells Place
The first thousand feet of climbing me that no matter how hard I trained, the climb would always be hard… I would do it over and over again for 9 days. But first, Bracewell’s ranch, with 96 years old Gerry Bracewell, BC’s first licensed female hunting guide.
Our trip of a lifetime was her way of life and we appreciated her stories and humour greatly. It was like a right of passage, to be given kind words and well wishes from someone that had lived in the area, we set out to explore. She wisely guided us to one of our first destination – the log cabin her son had built himself.
Chapter 3: Nemaiah Valley
Heading to Taseko lake via Mount Tatlow or “Tsy’ los”, and Nemaiah Valley. The views and easy riding allowed us some time to enjoy ourselves. It’s no wonder the Xeni Gwet’in people have presided over this territory for thousands of years. The courtyard of the valley protected by the sheer faces of mountain walls. A perfect spot to live with the land.
Mount Tatlow or “Tsy’ los” to the first nations of the area, lording over us, like a watchtower at a castle. The unknowns we studied from space – thanks to Google earth – would become the realities of our adventure. The feeling of only having your personal boundaries to hold you back. No emails, phone calls, alarm clocks, or deadlines.
Chapter 4 : The Raft
We camped by the lake the previous night, tired but pumped for the river crossing. The next day was the “Taseko rest day” and all we had to do was build a raft, swim across the river and find our food – and beer – stash. Once across, sitting on the beach on our first sunny day was surreal.
The next day was spent riding for 30 seconds, sometimes less, and then lifting, pulling, carrying or dragging our bikes across blowdown. 6 hours later and after countless blowdown crossings, we sat defeated only halfway our goal. Without the alpine wind, the black flies, horse flies, noseeums, mosquitos and whatever other creatures, circled around us… The next few days were much of the same. We climbed and descended mountains, crossed glaciers, creeks and ridges.
The views never subsided and maybe even got better. What a trip! The team performed, our equipment held up and we had made it. Kenny was right. That was “The Hog”.
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