Injuries are setbacks for athletes, but they can also bring opportunities to try different things. With Andréane recovered from a broken hand and me getting over a broken collarbone, we thought it would be fun to get out and do this bicycle thing together. No clock, less stress on our bodies, but all the fun.
We wanted to get out of Vancouver, and headed to Pemberton to explore the meadows around Tenquille Lake. We got Thomas Vanderham to join us, as well as photographer Margus Riga. A freeride legend, an enduro racer, and a downhill racer, all going for a trail ride. Quite the crew!
I have very little experience in backcountry riding. It wasn’t until Brian, the Rocky Mountain marketing guy, lent me his PLB (locator beacon) that it hit home—we definitely weren’t back in the bike park. However, Thomas and Margus both have tons of backcountry experience, and we all felt at ease going into the ride.
It was a nice day as we started in on the climbs for the day. A rain cloud hit us during the hike-a-bike section but the warm sun was poking through. The flies kept our snack breaks short.
We came to a trail intersection. Either head straight into the trail we had planned on shooting, or go up another 2km to reach Tenquille Lake. Margus thought the cabin up top would be a pretty sweet spot for part of the shoot. We all wanted to see the lake and cabin up in the alpine, so we changed the plan and headed up.
We came to the open area between two massive rocky ridges and started crossing. The snow was still abundant so we had to start walking our bikes. After a little while ALN looked down to her GPS and noticed we had gone past the 2km mark and there was no sight of a lake or cabin. It seemed pretty straightforward to stumble upon that lake as we were in an open valley, yet there was definitely no lake in sight. It was a bit of a head scratcher, and eventually we had to turn around.
Ever heard of the expression “getting Riga’d”? As we were backtracking in the snow, Thomas explained to ALN and I that we had just gotten Riga’d. Apparently we’re not the first to get lost while on a shoot with Margus Riga. Feels like we’re part of a club now.
I thought our feet couldn’t have gotten any more wet until we hit a river crossing, but as soon as things headed downhill I forgot about my soaked feet. I’m not sure if it was because the technical riding was keeping them warm or because they were frozen numb.
The trail wove through all sorts of natural scenery. The top of the trail was rocky and shaley, before making its way through a burn from a forest fire a few years ago. Eerie and beautiful.
The lower we got, the greener our surroundings became. By the end of it, the trail was so overgrown you couldn’t see 20 feet ahead, or your feet for that matter. That didn’t stop us from keeping our speed—it just spiced things up when blindly catching loose rocks beneath.
We finished the day at a perfect camp spot on Lillooet Lake. Food and drink are always more enjoyable after a day like this.
The next morning we had hopes of checking out a trail up Duffy Lake Road. We’d done some researching on the trail access and Margus had been in that area some 20 years ago, so it would be easy to find. Right?
This was getting Riga’d 2.0. We drove around endless fire roads that had undoubtedly changed over the years of logging. We went a little further, a little more, and some more. The wide access roads became double-tracks, and then stopped entirely.
We returned to town to regroup. Some things happen for a reason, and as soon as we hit the paved road again, we got smashed by a torrential downpour. Not the “grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it” kind of rain, but the “oh-shit-this-is-bad-and-I-have-hypothermia” kind of rain. We were decently prepared, but if we’d been on that trail it would have been a bad scene.
The haphazardly laid plans of mice and men were saved by the good old Pemby trail network! Our bud Dylan Forbes swung by to join us for a few laps, and we were all fired up to ride some of the best trails in the lower mainland.
This wouldn’t have been a Margus Riga trip without getting a little Riga’d. Oh! And I should mention that ALN checked her GPS and could see Tenquille lake on the map! It was there, just past where we had stopped and turned around. Next time…
Words by Vaea Verbeeck
Photos by Margus Riga
Additional photos by Brian Park & Thomas Vanderham