Bikepacking Jumpingpound Ridge

With a couple of sunny days at our disposal, a new set of bike bags for Alex finally complete, it seemed about time for an overnight bike adventure.

We’d been hoping to do a big loop from home and out into K-Country, via the Elbow loop. It’s still in poor shape following the floods though, so instead we opted for good old Jumpingpound Ridge, where the camping is free and the views can’t be beaten.

The road is still closed to cars, hurrah, and so we had a quiet ride out, much like last time.

This time we were riding early enough to hit wildflower season though, which was nice.

Once we hit the trailhead for our path up to the summit though, the flowers disappeared and the boy was kicked out of his trailer to walk up. Some genius had placed geocaches every 200 – 300 metres along the path. Usually this would annoy me, but on this day, it was perfect bait to lure on a small boy who started to get a little fed up with jumping over roots.

The last push up to the ridge over, we settled in just below the summit to cook dinner in the same spot as last time. Last time it was a bit cold, with a wind picking up that was bringing rain with it. This time it was eerily still, and swarming with mosquitos.

We ran around in circles, slapping and stomping as we enjoyed our dinner and the views. The mosquitos weren’t actually terribly bitey, most of them just hovered in confusion, not sure what to do with the vast expanses of delicious food that had turned up before them. They were a good incentive to get the tent set up though, which we did, piece by piece, in between running around in circles to shake off the clouds of mosquitos (except for Alex, who was for too dignified for such behaviour).

We didn’t bother with the fly on the tent, as the forecast was good, and it was easy to keep an eye on any incoming weather from where we were. We lay in the tent, and eventually switched from mosquito hiding and sky watching, to actual sleep.

A few storms rolled around on the far edge of the horizon overnight. We heard low rumbles of thunder, and watched lightning flashing in the distance. But the sky above us stayed clear, and filled with stars, and the temperature dropped enough to scare the mosquitos away.

The next day dawned wonderfully clear and warm. I watched bits and pieces of the sunrise from the tent, occasionally sticking my head up to acknowledge the different colours banding along the horizon.

As tempting as it would have been to keep lying in the tent, the sun was starting to shine on us with intent, and we had a 3.5 year old in there with us, who is quite insistent that if the sun is up, he should be up.

It was still a lazy and meandering sort of disassembly of camp. There was tea to be drunk, and gear to be thoughtfully rearranged in new bags, as we meditated on the optimal arrangement for the future.

On the descent we found just one surprise drift of snow – not too bad if you’re just out for a day trip, but a small challenge to get around with fully loaded bike and trailer. That was nothing to the next challenge though. As I stopped to photograph Alex coasting down a section of trail, and then off into the distance, put the camera down – and then the singletrailer exploded! The wheel bounced off down the hill in a most poetic fashion. Actually, there wasn’t so much an explosion, as just the wheel coming off and bouncing away. Which did cause Alex to stop pretty quickly.

Here the boy looks despondent as Alex re-seats the bearing into the wheel so it could lock on properly. No rocks were harmed in the making of this photograph.

The final hurdle was the fording of the de-bridged river, which was flowing just a little higher than last year. I tried riding it, and ended up falling in. Which was fine, as I’d been riding in sandals all weekend, due to a forgetting-I-had-flat-pedals-on-my-bike-still incident. After seeing my less than stylish crossing, Alex opted to just walk across as well. I went to throw him my sandals for the attempt, and one fell short, and started floating away downstream. Cold footed lurching and squealing ensued, as I rescued the errant sandal and returned it to Alex.

The rest of the ride passed without incident, and we even made it back in town in time for the Canada Day parade (which was apparently too noisy, so we didn’t stay for the whole thing anyway).

Total trip distance: 33km (Day 1: 18km, Day 2: 15km)
Total elevation gain: 860m (807m of that on Day 1)
More details: We started and finished at the Dawson Recreation/Camping Area, where the Cox Hill trail joins the road. The road is currently closed to public vehicles beyond that point. And we took the trail directly beneath the summit to reach the ridge. Our packing list was much the same as last year, but with no diapers and more spare clothes/underpants for the boy. We did take less water, and now we both have fancy Porcelain Rocket bike bags, everything is much easier to carry.

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