Got a late Sundy message from Francois suggesting/organizing a ride in the Oliphant Lake area… sounded like a better idea than the solo rides I’d been thinking of.
Unfortunately, right at the start, I tested my stump removal technique… that’s where you run the motorbike footpeg into a stump (possibly an unseen one), using your foot as a pressure sensor. Left a bit of a mark on the stump, but failed to remove it. Pressure sensor says that I did hit it hard and pressures were high. Haven’t been in to the doctor yet, but wouldn’t be the least surprised to find out I broke a bone or two. Toes seem ok, but the main knuckle for the left big toe is sore, and the whole lower foot is swollen up.
Anyhow, Andre led us up into the Mt wood area, taking some single track I hadn’t seen before. There were a few false turns and a tree or two we had to break down to ground level to get past. We came out on the powerlines and ran up those for a bit. We took the “water trail” to oliphant and from there did both the trickier bits (NE and NW sides). (This was a light bike group with experienced riders.) A brief stop at Oliphant Lake (pic above).
From there it was some messing around on the plateau, including the actual Mt Wood summit, which was new to me.
From there, we sort of went looking for single track. Unfortunately we were on the tracks that go by the lake from the S, and the only connections I knew to Mt Baldy were from the north of the lake… still it was obvious were the connections could/should be.
Shortly after finding the trails, we had a stop above a technical section. e.g. one where we got off the bikes to see what our options were. Andre had run ahead, so he came back with a report. The GPS tracks in there are a bit off. One trail just didn’t go where it said it did, and most of the rest were offset by a good ten meters (to the west).
After running around in there, we decided to run back to Sooke via the backroads. Not sure if my subconscious was scheming already, but by the time we were half way down West Jordon, I had decided I wanted to split off to do some scouting. So I left the group at the end of Butler (bridge over Jordan) and run up Walker to see what the status regarding logging was. Well, they’re actively moving logs over the road right near the start, but otherwise it seemed quiet. I actually took one of the wrong spurs at first (1/2 way up the hill, vs the top one). That was interesting as I spotted a strange shape/animal at the end of the track. It didn’t seem afraid of me and I had spotted it from a long way (500m?) off. Coming up slowly it turned arnd walked away… and then momma bear came up onto the track and ran the cub off. I had planned to look for a trail at the end of the track, but decided to leave them have the area. I ran into another pair too. I think it was on the plateau to the N of Bear Creek reservoir, but not sure.
So the main thing I wanted to check out, was a report (from Garry) of an old mine site SE of Mt Valentine (N of Bear Creek reservoir). Unfortunately I hadn’t transferred the co-ordinates to the GPS. I knew about where it was, but did have one bad guess before I got the right spur.
I tramped around the site a bit, but couldn’t find any sign of a shaft or other excavations. I tried to run the track to the south, but it was blocked by a tree and I’d forgotten my saw. I tried the track to the east, and it was pretty overgrown. Turns out that I probably got pretty close (e.g. east) to where the excavations were).
So, I ended up returning to the main track to the north and running east on it to track I covered last year. But I did stop at this point to note how iron rich the rocks in this one spot appeared to be.
Back on (or off of) Butler, I was looking for a track that I though might connect to West Leech main. Pretty sure I found it. Someone had been through here recently and blew more than a few calories cutting off some fallen trees with an axe. It wasn’t that overgrown, it would be interesting to try it with a couple other guys on light bikes and a bit of gear.
Oh, I took good few minutes to finish the mapping of the new roads on both ends of the Oildrum / Wagonmeister track. Last time I was doing the stay-right thing and got “distracted” following old trails, so I basically did it “stay left” this time. That’s a good part of the reason for the extra waypoints on the track… basically footnotes for updating OSM, and labels (like ML1900).
And one little detour for a stop by Tugwell creek to finish off my water and food before hitting the pavement back to Victoria. Only one problem with that plan:
I don’t think I’ve ever seen it that low. There was a puddle in what is normally a big deep pool to the north, but that was the only water I saw.
Anyhow, it was a good ride. Met some good people, got to burn around on my own, and got some exploring in.