Carmel Ecker shares her story about riding the Seven Summits!
Epic is the word most often used to describe the Seven Summits Trail in Rossland, BC, and truly, there’s no better word to describe it.
There are folks out there who ride this 30+ km trail over – you guessed it – seven summits in three or 4 hours. I’m not sure what they are eating but I’m pretty sure there are magic beans involved.
My riding partner, Deb, and I managed to mountain goat our way up and across and down in about six and a half hours including lunch, a few snack breaks and some photo ops.
At first, I was a little worried that I had bitten off more than I could chew. Having barely been on my bike since having a baby 10 months earlier, my cardio was not exactly “top notch.” But I had an understanding friend to ride with, a babysitter booked and a perfect weather day to ride a world class trail, so I loaded up the bikes, wished my baby a good day and headed for the hills.
First we headed downhill to the trail end where we dropped vehicle number one. Then it was back up Hwy 3B to the trailhead 20 km west of town on Nancy Green Summit.
After a quick gear check to make sure our spare tubes, pumps and food made it into our backpacks, we pedalled off the pavement and into wonderland.
The first few hundred metres of this trail are a delight. It’s a meandering singletrack through a lovely wooded area. If I could have ridden that for 30 kilometres, I would have been in heaven.
Alas, the trail quickly turns into a steep, slow grind to the top. There are a few brief plateaus here and there to catch your breath and ease the burning in your legs, but it’s pretty much straight up to the top of the first peak, Mt Lepsoe.
Because I’m not a speed demon, the initial climb seemed to go on forever. In reality, it took us about two hours. The total elevation gain for the overall trail is 1000 metres and the initial climb is about 600 of that.
This is the point at which the ride started to be fun.
Yes, there was still plenty of climbing left, but it would be interspersed with beautiful, swoopy downhill sections and gorgeous vistas of the Monashee mountains.
I was pretty proud of myself for feeling good in spite of my lack of fitness when, about half-way along the trail, we were passed by two lads from Danville and New Denver who had ridden to the trailhead from town (20 kms) and would be riding back to town from the trail end (another 10 kms).
So they would be riding 60 kilometres in less time than we would be riding 30. If I had an ego, that fact pretty much crushed it.
Thankfully, their presence meant a totally valid and mandatory social break from the climb up Grey Mountain. And with their departure, I was free to resume complaining about the steepness.
Fortunate for my riding partner, there were beautiful features to distract me from the pain including crossing several rock slides. Yes, rock slides. It is a cool feeling to roll over a patchwork of flat rocks that have been put in place as a bridge over massive jagged boulders on a mountain ridge.
And certainly, the swoopy winding downhill sections had us both grinning ear to ear. Mostly intermediate level and without any drops or jumps, these sections offer the perfect opportunity to let go of the brakes and rip it.
The real prize, though, comes once all the climbing is done. When the last mountain was behind us, we had 9 kilometres of downhill to look forward to. Let me repeat that. Nine kilometres of downhill singletrack featuring a variety of terrain from rocky ridges and high alpine to heavily treed forest bottom.
It winds through massive wildflower meadows that were so tall in places, it felt like going through a tunnel.
And it just keeps going down.
Of course, we had parked at the bottom of the Dewdney Trail, which gave us an extra 30 minutes of downhill and even bigger grins as we reached into the cooler for the post-ride bevies we’d stowed.
Cheers to a truly epic ride.