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Journey of the Sorcerer (Squamish)
Permanent #198, 202 km
Ride date: September 19, 2019
by Mike Hagen

This is the second in my Journey of the Sorcerer gravel permanent series. The first one was JotS (Sts'ailes) last November. That one only had 28 km of gravel but it had a fair bit of climbing, steepish gradients, and it was rough. This one today, JotS (Squamish), started at Horseshoe Bay, went up Hwy 99, then the Squamish Valley Road, and hit gravel 75 km into the ride. It was 28 km from end-of-pavement to the Elaho Mainline turnaround point, but only 52 km of gravel because there is still some old pavement for a couple kilometers by the powerhouse. The road follows the Squamish River, so not a lot of climbing, and grades are fairly gentle, 5 - 6% being the steepest. It proved to be a very interesting ride!

I was going to say "Unfortunately," but I'm not sure it was unfortunate that the road was freshly graded. It was so fresh that I passed the machine about halfway up. I liked the road after that better than the graded section, but the first 2 kms after end-of-pavement had been pretty bad and the grader hadn't been over that. So it's hard to know the condition of the road before it was graded. Just after passing the grader, I encountered a work-party fixing some of the planks in a bridge over a small tributary. They had a "Road Closed" sign up, and I thought I might have to turn around at that point. Then I read the sign more closely, and it said, in faded blue at the bottom, "Proceed with permission." So I asked the crew if I could pass, and they said, "Sure." But they also said there was a culvert out around the next bend, that there was a crew working on it, there was a lot of mud, and maybe I could get by but maybe I couldn't. I went up to check it out. Sure enough, there was a back-hoe working and a lot of mud. I talked to the guy, and said I thought I could pick my way through, and he said to go for it. So I did that. Got the wheels pretty muddy, but kept my feet a bit drier.


There'd also been a crew working at the outlet of Pillchuck Creek dumping rip-rap to stabilize the bank of the Squamish River at that point. I'd seen a few haul-truck with large boulders or dump trucks with rip-rap on the road up to there. Other than the work crews, though, very little traffic: a couple pick-ups, a jeep, a couple quads, a motorcycle. And one yellow school bus with two large yellow inflated river rafts on the top. That was kind of magical. It turned out that the one thing I didn't see on this Forest Service Road was logging trucks.

The day started off cloudy, but the sun came out by Squamish and it was nice most of the way up the valley. It started spitting rain before the turnaround, and it got a bit wet coming back, but it never rained hard enough or steady enough that I felt I needed my raincoat. So that was fine.

These aren't fast rides. My gravel bike is a slower bike, and gravel itself is slower. It took me 10:32 to do the 203 km today. But it was fun.


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September 20, 2019