Distance: 24 km (18 km bike; 6 km hike)
Elevation gain: 860 m Route map
With our schedules and good mid-week weather aligning, Matt messaged me to see if I'd be interested in a hike after work. Well of course I was! I hadn't seen Matt since February (or 3 months of snow and an apocalypse ago) and it's a rare treat for me to get out for an evening hike.
What I didn't anticipate, but probably should have given that Matt loves to get the most out of his time in the mountains, was that the objective of choice would involve 24 km of hiking and biking and nearly 900 m of elevation gain! Those are some formidable stats for an evening trip, especially since I'm still quite new (and weak) at biking. Swany's Ridge and Îyarhe Îpan have been on my target list forever though, so with just a bit of trepidation I agreed it was a good idea.
To avoid an overly adventurous after-dark bike descent, we met at the McLean Creek staging area 5 hours before sunset, quickly geared up, and started biking along the gated industrial/logging road heading southwest from the parking lot. The road was solidly packed dirt and mostly level and allowed for fast travel to begin, but as the grade gradually steepened we slowed down quite a bit, obviously. I walked my bike up a few steeper hills early on, but pretty much walked my bike up the entire ridge. Matt rode his much higher, but he too eventually started walking up the steepest sections. Of note is that the new logging road we followed comes to within 80 vertical meters of the ridgecrest, just 1 km south of the summit of Swany's Ridge. It is a very efficient trip to do by bike now.
After securing our bikes we set off for the ridgecrest, hiking through open forest on soft moss the entire way. On the crest we intersected a good trail we followed north to the summit of Swany's Ridge, reaching it just 30 minutes after having left the bikes. A few summit photos later and we descended the steep and somewhat bushy slope to the col between Swany's and Îyarhe Îpan, then hiked up the 130 vertical meters to the summit of Îyarhe Îpan. I was a bit tired from the earlier bike pushing and the deadfall was pretty thick in spots (though generally not a problem), but we still reached the summit just 40 minutes from Swany's.
The view from the summit of Îyarhe Îpan was mostly blocked by trees, but by continuing a bit further north we were granted an expansive view in every direction but south. While similar to the view from Swany's Ridge, the rock cliff scenery and a slightly better view to the northwest certainly made it worth continuing to this point.
We snacked and took some photos, then retraced our path to the col. Here, instead of reascending Swany's Ridge, we sidehilled to a low point on the ridge just below where we'd gained it on our ascent. This worked very well and involved minimal elevation gain, and we arrived back at the bikes only 50 minutes after having left the summit.
The bike ride down was definitely a highlight of the trip! The first 2.5 km – the descent of the main ridge – involved a ton of brake burning and zero pedaling, the next 4 km were similarly fast with just two little uphill sections and some leisurely pedaling on short flat sections, and the final 2.5 km went by equally effortlessly. We covered the 9 km distance in just 30 minutes for a total trip time, including several breaks, of 4 hours 45 minutes. Apparently 24 km and 860 m of elevation gain is practical for an after work hike after all!