2020/04/26 – East San Juan

Chris wanted another big-bike friendly ride for his GSA.

He had done a ride a week or two back that he wanted to repeat with some changes. Basically it was Duncan area to Sooke through the back-roads, avoiding a chunk that was snow covered the last time.

IMHO, we did a pretty good job of finding a track that was easy enough for the big bikes to be comfortable, while still hitting some pretty fine scenery and tracks. I won’t say I aced the navigation (I missed the track up the powerlines causing a fairly long double-back section). Entrance was “mumble-mumble”, then north up the powerlines from Silver Mine FSR. I messed up where we crossed Wild-Deer Main, but that got sorted out… and we eventually found the lookout. We skipped the worst of powerline track going north (taking Crescent 12-16 as it is currently labelled in OSM), which was big big friendly (including one nice ramp). And then most of the powerline trails north to Holt. West on Holt to M-Line or K-Line whatever you want to call it. South to the old M-Line, and West to the San Juan River. Then South (past the fork and bridge to SJA – will return for that), to Mt Todd. From there the plan was a dog-leg west to Williams Creek Main, south on that to West Jordan and out and home through Sooke. (Brad and Mike decided to bee-line it for home (east on Kapoor) at this point as Brad’s back was acting up.)

Unfortunately Kapoor was blocked. The road had subsided by something like 8 feet. So we ran east on Kapoor (only option, gate at Mt Todd was open – someone had cut the post off). At West Jordon we had to decide whether we were continuing east or going south to Sooke. We opted for heading east.

At the end of Kapoor, Colin split for home, leaving Chris and I to wander south toward the ITSC site. Chris did nicely pushing the big GSA through the trails to McGee, and decided to head home from there. I’ve never actually had a chance to explore the ITSC area, so I continued south on the backroads.

I mapped the “Barrel trail”, which going south was about a 4 or 5 out of 10 on the difficulty scale… which pretty much means slow and steady, technical but nothing that momentum didn’t solve. A few stalls but no having to back up and do-over, and no getting off to push. Going the other way might be a bit harder.

From there I was headed homeward, but thinking of the Oliphant area. A couple bikes came out of the red gate just south of the Shawnigan east/west split, so I thought I’d check out that entrance. It got fairly well blocked a year or two ago and I had crossed it off my list of useful entrances/exits. Turns out it is back to being a pretty simple bypass.

My track from there through Oliphant was actually pretty good. I’d forgotten how steep that first climb is. (And I explored a spur off of that, but without clearing some slash, it is a dead end.) The top of that climb comes out where Greg and I were a short while ago, so a rough track through the slash puts me on the trail to the slash I did clear a while back. Add in another tweak we found by accident with Greg and it’s single track until the start of the descent… then out the south end and pavement to home.

Power Line lookout, west of Wild Deer Lake.
View down the San Juan River valley from west shoulder of Mt Todd.
This pic doesn’t really show the drop. There’s something like 8 feet of drop there.

p.s. My first Moma bear and cub spotting of the year at ITSC.