Four dudes, the Canadian wilderness and endless stretches of unspoilt trail: the perfect ingredients for an awesome camping trip! If it wasn’t for a spontaneous rave, an overheated truck, and 350 square kilometres of wildfires…

“Better late than never” is perhaps the best way to start an epic camping weekend. After last night’s unplanned rave, a few hours of sleep and a chugged Starbucks double espresso, we were almost tempted to cancel the whole trip. If we had, we would’ve missed out on one of the best weekends of our summer. But in the end, we got our shit together and hit the road.

Our journey began with a 2 ½ hour car ride that took us from Whistler, through Pemberton and Lillooet, out to the monumental wilderness of Della Creek. A sat-nav isn’t much use around here, because there’s only one road in, and one road back out. Once you get there, you better know where you’re going, because you won’t find any phone signal.

On the last stretch of the drive, we realised why B.C. cars have such big tires. It was time to air-down our tires and start the climb up a rough dirt road – until everything stopped working. All of a sudden, our Toyota 4Runner was as quiet as a mouse – a dead one, at that… Brilliant, stranded in the middle of nowhere. This is the bit where we found out about the phone signal.

One hour and a few beers later, our 4Runner came back to life, living up to its reputation after a little rest and half a gallon of coolant. It was already late noon and we still had to climb 1,500 metres, but we didn’t care – we definitely weren’t going to turn back at this point. We found a nice little camping spot, unloaded the bikes, and loaded our backpacks with snacks and a massive bottle of mosquito spray – the place is heaving with the bitey little buggers! The secret is to keep moving, but that isn’t easy when you’re covering such big distances.

The only good thing about hike-a-biking up a trail is that you can see where you’ll be riding downhill. The prospects were promising, and loamy. At the top of the mountain, the trees thinned out, revealing some breath-taking views, including distant smoke clouds. Look a little closer, and you could spot flames dancing in the trees – it’s forest fire season up here at this time of year.

Hero dirt, gnarly jumps and fast runways with no end in sight. There’s very little human intervention on these trails, but the terrain’s natural flow allows you to rip your way back down into the valley as fast as your nerves will let you, plastering a dirt-eating grin across your face in the process – far more than many purpose-built MTB trails. But the riding here speaks for itself…

As the dust settled, we checked out our camping spot for the night while sipping on a cold post-ride brew. But there was a problem: the thick smoke cloud we saw earlier on was slowly moving into the valley. The cause? A massive 350 square kilometre wildfire – and none of us knew how fast the flames were moving. Should we pack up and high-tail it out of there? Or should we wait and see what happens? Aiolos – the divine keeper of the winds, not the god of garlic mayo – seemed to like mountain bikers, and decided not to blow the flames in our direction. We agreed to sit it out and watch. We were travelling light after all, meaning we could pack up in a matter of minutes, before beginning the journey back down the mountain to safety. We weren’t in reach of the smoke cloud yet, so we set our alarm clock every three hours to assess the situation and see how fast the fire is moving.

At sunrise, a heavy blanket of smoke hung over the valley as we brewed our coffee. However, the wildfires didn’t seem to be spreading too quickly, and the weather was working in our favour. So we decided to get down to business with the whole reason we were here in the first place: racking up some shuttle laps, Canadian style. 4 dudes, 1 truck. You get to shred three times before it’s your turn to drive the truck. Fifteen minutes per run if you shred hard, or quicker if you’re spotted by the guard dog that patrols the neighbouring property. After the fourth run, we were pretty mashed, four-legged stalker included. Not that there was anything to steal anyway – we weren’t going to fit much of the precious loam in the back of a pickup…

And again!

Rough and ready, but unforgettable! These kinds of adventures just go to show that you don’t need the full monty to have a good time. It just takes a couple of sick trails, a battered old truck, good mates and, most importantly, the balls and passion to go for it! So long, Della Creek. We’ll see you next time…

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Words & Photos: Peter Walker

About the author

Peter Walker

As editor-in-chief, Peter is as much a man of action as he is of words. This expert, screw-driver-flexing two wheeled-whizz has many envy-inducing characteristics, including a background in motocross, several EWS race plates to his name, and more than 150 recorded days at Whistler Bike Park. However complex the bike and however steep the trail, he’s probably already nailed it, twice. Oh, and he can do it all on skinny tyres too. When it comes to guiding consumers, Peter cut his teeth at Vancouver’s oldest bike shop and now puts pen to paper on the daily translating this know-how into our editorial plan. When not tearing up Stuttgart’s local trails while testing bikes, he loves nothing more than loading up his self-renovated VW T5 and hitting the road. The fact that he’s a trained paramedic gives his colleagues reassurance out on the trails. So far we haven’t had to call him by his alias ‘Sani Peter’, so here’s hoping he keeps it right side up for the rest of his time here!