Day 3: Nairn Falls – Cottonwood Recreation Site

Nairn Falls - Cottonwood

Today: 78km, 1286m elevation gain

To date: 213 km, 3,128m elevation gain

To go: about 7,790 km

Today was the day I had heard about when I told people I was going to take the route through Squamish/Whistler/Lillooet… people always brought up this terrible hill leaving Pemberton heading to Joffre Lakes – and asked if I was crazy.  I chose not to worry about it.   Was this a good idea?  Yea I think so, because if I had known how bad it would be, I might have tried to avoid it and I would have missed out on some amazingly beautiful scenery.  The 20km ride from Nairn through to Mt. Currie and a bit beyond was beautiful and flat.  I saw a coyote – my first wildlife spotting.  This flat was lolling me into a false sense of ease.   Then things took a turn for the worse.  A lot worse.  Starting from here, let me break it down for you:

2 min in – road so steep, I need to take a rest break

15min in – 3rd break – pee, snack

30 min in –  fall over as I cannot unclip when I need to for my rest break – I am ok, Slow Loris is ok

45 min in – I have taken approx 10 rest breaks, the hill has been constant

1 hr – the hill breaks!!  I change out of my granny gear for the first time, I take pictures!

1 hr 5 min – celebration short lived, uphill again

2 hr – I have drank 1.5 L of water and eaten a whole bar of energy chews.  Refill water from emergency reserve in camelback

2.5hr – break at a beautiful waterfall

3hr – can’t believe it’s been constant uphill for 3 hrs

3.5 hrs – feel ill, pull over and lay in the grass for a few minutes

4 hrs – finally see the turn off for Joffre Lakes – If I did not turn off I would be facing more hill

Lower Joffre Lake

The hills do subside after Joffre, but they are still there.  It is not until after Duffey Lake do I really start to feel like the grade is in my favour.  To anyone who plans on doing this ride – you will need a lot of water – I drank everything I was carrying – about 2.5 L and then had to stop and filter more between Joffre and Duffey.  Neither of the parks have water – so be prepared to filter.  Also the energy chews were a must!  I was feeling ill when I swapped to nuts & fruit, but I don’t think they could give me energy fast enough.  Also make sure you are drinking some sort of electrolyte mix – I use Nuun tablets.  I was sweating profusely – somewhat reminiscent of a hot yoga class.  Bit gross really.

I stopped at Joffre and walked the 5 min trail to the Lower Lake – a beautiful place worth visiting – especially since it gives you a much needed break as there are still a few more (less serious) climbs to come.   I learnt a few things while riding today:

  • its harder to unclip if you panic
  • that said, falling over doesn’t hurt much, just get up and out of the way ASAP
  • take a lot of breaks – i totalled maybe 15 during todays 15km clim
  • don’t get excited by a turnoff in 2km and start pedalling hard – 2 km of uphill is still really far!
  • the most annoying part of slow uphills are the flies that start to circle like you are a dying animal… am I? at times I felt like it
  • the most painful part of uphill for me was my hands from keeping myself straight as cars passed me

The ride from Duffey Lake to my little campground was pretty wonderful.  Lots of downhill and I coasted a lot of the way.  Even when I could of pedalled I just coasted slowly because I was pretty beat.  I passed a bear at one point.  I said Hello Mr. Bear, Go away Mr. Bear, but he just kept munching dandelions – I kept yelling at him, and puffed out my arms to look big, and cruised on by.  He watched me curiously as I did.  Smart bear – I must have looked like some sort of loud flying chicken.

Cottonwood campingA ways after Duffey Lake, there are a series of 5 recreation areas – all offering free camping.  I cruised by the first 3 because there was not anyone else staying there, and I feel safer with other people, for the time being.  At the 4th site I saw other campers, so I pulled in and got right to business – washing myself and my clothes, setting up camp and cooking dinner.  Couscous lentil curry with an added can of tuna never tasted so good! I got into my tent at 730pm and although I could have fallen asleep with exhaustion, I stayed up for awhile reading my book, stretching and writing the blog.  I write as I go, but I can only post when I have wifi- so I am actually on Day 5 of cycling and somewhere near Cache Creek – I will catch up!!

Categories: Across Canada, Biking, British Columbia

Tags: , , ,

4 replies

  1. wow Dee…you are going to be in such great shape….you are an inspiration

  2. what a great descriptive Dee .. could picture everything perfectly and feel your sweat and aches and thirst .. Prayers Sweets and looking forward to hearing more <3


  1. Across Canada: British Columbia Recap « Just Ambling

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