The sixth annual Seven Summits Bike and Hike Challenge in the Cariboo Mountains above Wells and Barkerville mid-September had participants raving.
The 56-kilometre event covered seven mountains in seven stages, featuring more than 7,000 feet of elevation gain in one day.
Participants started their day on the streets of the Barkerville historic townsite, then wrapped up in the picturesque town of Wells to celebrate their accomplishments.
Nearly perfect weather helped 36 participants from 12 cities, including Williams Lake, from across the province and into the U.S., navigate their way through the alpine of the Cariboo Mountains. With an average time this year of nearly nine hours, some may wonder, why do it? The answer, according to some participants, lies in the beauty of the North Cariboo mountains which, combined with the social aspect created by the organizers and volunteers, helped keep participants focused on fun above competition.
Ben Harapat of North Vancouver said it was a blast.
“Thank you for an extraordinary time,” he said. “I knew it would be special when I signed up, and it was that and more.”
The Seven Summits Bike and Hike Challenge was created at the Bear’s Paw Cafe in Wells and was sponsored by a variety of local businesses and supported by dedicated volunteers. The entry fee included a hot lunch, prizes, unique pottery, participant awards and more.
The event was also the recipient of an Environmental Stewardship Award from the Wilderness Tourism Association. All 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 in the area, said organizer Dave Jorgenson.
Jorgenson added he 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 history and have a great day. It’s clearly working.”
The day’s fastest times were set by Peter Findlay of Kamloops at five hours and 13 minutes, followed by Mike Smith of Prince George in five hours and 40 minutes.
Williams Lake’s Ivor McMahen finished a very respectable sixth overall in seven hours and 11 minutes.
The grand prize and only perennial trophy goes to the most average time, given to the individual who exemplifies the spirit of “enjoyment of the mountain environment” felt by the entire group of participants. Chris Wagner of Fort St. John took the prize with eight hours and 46 minutes.
Prince George mountaineer Craig Evanoff said he appreciated the low-key atmosphere at the event.
“I just want to thank the organizers and all the volunteers for putting on such an amazing event,” he said. “I really like how they have kept it simple. Anywhere else an event such as this would have evolved into a big, complicated scene. From the hand-made participants numbers to the tin whistle starting gun it’s got real character. I hope it stays that way.”
For more information on the Seven Summits Bike and Hike Challenge visit 7summitsbikeandhike.org.