Nick Burzynski(left)

Nick Burzynski(left)

Winds and rain couldn’t stop mountaineers

The eighth annual Seven Summits Bike and Hike Challenge took place last Saturday and Williams Lake participants were in the thick of it.

The eighth annual Seven Summits Bike and Hike Challenge took place last Saturday, Sept. 19, and Williams Lake participants were in the thick of it.

It was a perfect storm of constant rain, and on all the summits and ridges, gale force winds and thick fog.

With apparent disregard for the conditions, 69 participants in the 7 Summits Challenge persevered over the peaks as if it was a typical day in the Cariboo.

The event starts on the streets of Barkerville Historic Town in the North Cariboo Mountains, near Quesnel.

Participants finally end their day, as much as 12 self-propelled hours later, in the picturesque town of Wells, to celebrate their accomplishment. Between Barkerville and Wells they have hiked and cycled on seven mountains, in seven stages and accumulated 7,000 feet in elevation gain.

This mountain event is widely heralded as an achievable but epic adventure, and receives popular support throughout the province.

It’s goal is to get people into the mountains, challenge their abilities, raise awareness about our fragile alpine environment and raise money to support the Friends of Barkerville, who have been instrumental in preserving and protecting many of the trails used.

Quesnel and Prince George dominated the registrations this year and Tom Skinner of Prince George achieved the fastest time of five hours and 37 minutes.

He was followed closely by former Quesnel resident, Matt Hewitt, now of Vernon, and Mark Isaacs of Prince George.

In the women’s division Bonnie Hooge and Kristen Erickson, both of Prince George, placed first and second with Williams Lake’s Ann Carter posting third in eight hours, 24 minutes and 27 seconds.

The 7 Summits celebrates participation above all else, and so the grand prize goes to the person who best exemplifies the spirit of the event, which is to enjoy a long and fruitful experience in the mountains.

They are immortalized on the only annual trophy, awarded to the “Most Average Time.” This year this prize is awarded to Bridget Nowakowski, of Quesnel, for her time of nine hours and 24 minutes.

Noted for its homespun style, dedicated and supportive volunteers and quirky structure, this event has become a signature part of the Cariboo Mountain experience, and has become recognized around the province for its quality and organization. But it’s not the event, it’s the mountains that really provide the magic.

This year it was the weather that defined how fickle a fall day in the Cariboo can be. The high winds at alpine really tested the mettle of the participants, but the cheerful faces and high degree of satisfaction show that the accomplishment was its own reward.

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

The entry fee includes a hot lunch, prizes, unique pottery participant awards and more. This event is the recipient of an ‘Environmental Stewardship Award’ from the Wilderness Tourism Association.

All 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 on which we are privileged to travel.

Other Williams Lake competitors results are as follows:

Men’s Division

15.) Ivor McMahen (8:14.36)

16.) Travis Blishen (8:20.44)

16.) William Bamsey (8:20.44)

34.) Luke Moger (9:44.36)

57.) Marshall McMahen (11:34.28)

58.) Corey Payette (11:34.29)

Women’s Division

34.) Katie McMahen (9:44.36)

42.) Chelann Davis (10:19.54)

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