Riders begin their journey through the town of Barkerville at the start of this year’s 7 Summits Bike and Hike Challenge.

Riders begin their journey through the town of Barkerville at the start of this year’s 7 Summits Bike and Hike Challenge.

Cariboo Mountain summits celebrated in Wells

New records were set in the Cariboo Mountains this weekend at the Fifth Annual 7 Summits Bike and Hike Challenge.

New records were set in the Cariboo Mountains this weekend at the Fifth Annual 7 Summits Bike and Hike Challenge.

Participants in this year’s event rode through the historic townsite of Barkerville before heading to the Cariboo alpine to complete seven stages of hiking and biking over the course of a long day in the mountains.

Ultimately, seven mountains later, participants arrived in the picturesque town of Wells to celebrate their accomplishment.

Seventy participants from every corner of B.C. were drawn to this “day in the mountains,” as it’s been described by participants.

Why does this event draw a dedicated crowd from around B.C.? The answer lies in the beauty of the North Cariboo mountains, which, combined with the social aspect created by the organizers and volunteers, keeps participants focused on fun above competition.

Dawn saw the throng riding up to their first alpine hike over two summits, and across a subalpine forest to their third summit, before passing through the town of Wells in their first leg.

This may be one of the few events that includes a mid-day break in a cafe with hot, homemade soup and sandwiches. This precedes the second assault on the mountains to claim the final two peaks, and three passes.

The combination of hiking and biking on established and historic trail systems takes people on a fabulous tour of the North Cariboo Mountains in one exciting and achievable day.

Participant Andrew Cant remarked: “What an experience. The most gratifying thing I have ever accomplished.”

The 7 Summits Bike and Hike Challenge is billed as a day tour that takes you to seven mountains in seven stages with more than 7,000 feet in elevation gain, in just one day.

The emphasis for this event is on the challenge, not the race. That’s why, in addition to the usual first-, second- and third-place prizes, the most average time and the best poker hand were recognized.

Not only is the course spectacular but the sense of camaraderie, the pre-race events on Friday night and the fabulous awards banquet all come together to make for a great weekend in the mountains.

This year’s mountain weather was cool and sunny, sprinkled with the odd Cariboo squall that made carrying your jacket worthwhile. It was perfect weather for fast travel in the alpine environments. With 70 participants, there was a wide variety of completion times from a mere five and a half hours to more than 13 hours.

Co-organizer Cheryl Macarthy said, “We say in the literature that two old guys in moderate shape did this route in 11 hours with breaks for photographs, meals and contemplation. The most average time award is meant to recognize this concept of appreciating where you are.”

In an event which saw an almost equal split between genders, this year’s average time was set by Lou Brisco of Quesnel in just under 10 hours.

Event organizer Dave Jorgenson was thrilled by the results.

“Everyone commented on how happy this event makes them feel,” he said. “Here’s our ultimate goal: to get people to experience the mountains, acknowledge and respect our alpine treasures, connect with the history and have a great day. Clearly it’s working.”

The 7 Summits Bike and Hike Challenge was created at the Bear’s Paw Cafe in Wells, and is sponsored by a variety of local businesses, and supported by a cadre of dedicated volunteers.

This event is the recipient of an Environmental Stewardship Award from the Wilderness Tourism Association. All of the profits from entry fees go to support the Friends of Barkerville and the Cariboo Goldfields, whose hard work has helped to preserve the many historic trails used in the event.

For more information on the 7 Summits Bike and Hike Challenge visit

www.7summits-bike-

andhike.org.