Powerslave to the [almost] top

GPS Maps

Some time in July, Jeremy and myself decided that we should ride from town to what was then the top of Powerslave. I guess it's not really the top of Powerslave anymore since there is supposed to be an extension at the top now that I haven't ridden.

If you don't know Powerslave but have seen "Life Cycles" it is the trail in the builder's section and the part from the video is every bit as fun as it looks. I think of the trail in three parts. At the bottom you have the Bears Den which everybody rides, from there you head up to the Cabin entrance which is also easy to access if you shuttle to the bottom of the trail, and above that you have what was the highest point of the trail which starts between Toad Peak and Morning Mountain. There aren't too many people that ride this right from the top and we wondered if it was worth the extra effort to climb up there.

I guess that entirely depends how much fun you have while climbing a fairly relentless 1300m vertical. To put the rest of my rambling into perspective, I like climbing. If I'm not pedaling to the top I don't really feel like I've done a real ride.

Our morning started as most rides do at Oso Negro. A few of our friends had done this ride the previous weekend so we thought it was our turn to make the journey. We got some info about how to get to the top and set out neither of us having done the ride before.

How We Got To The Top

Heading off to Rosemont we rode past Selkirk College to the end of Silverking Road. At the end of the road you reach a few private driveways, I'm pretty sure one on each side of the road with the Silverking trail being right in the middle. Riding up Silverking trail you go past a few branches off to the right but sticking to the main trail is a more enjoyable climb up to the 2km point up Giveout Creek service road. From there you go up the road to the 5km road marker  which is just on the other side of the bridge crossing Giveout Creek (as in the flowing water, not the road). Right near the 5km sign is a steep road on the left side known as the Upper 5k Puker. The name is fitting for it.

Upper 5k Puker goes on for quite a while starting off in the trees then going into a more open road through brush. It takes a hard right in the open section and after a little ways there is a left hand corner with a trail branching off to the right that has Rasta colored flagging tape on it. This marks the NRG turn off to get up to the Powerslave Cabin the back way. For this ride however, straight is the way to go and we continued up the same road. After a little longer the road crosses a creek with logs laid over top of it. This is about where we got lost. Apparently a few hundred meters past this creek crossing is a trail or road off to the right. Jeremy and I rode a little ways up the road, didn't see anything, then decided to loop back and take a trail that turned out to be an animal path or something. That probably wasn't the best way to go but we ended up on the right road anyway so it didn't matter.

After our detour through the woods the next part of road really decided to kick our ass. I didn't even know they made roads this steep but I guess they do and this one has about 14 pitches on it that are some absurd grade. Unfortunately my altimeter on my bike computer was all cracked out at this point so my % grade was not working either. This part makes all of the 5k Puker look tame. After an eternity things flatten out and you get to the 'top'. After a quick bite we dropped into the trail since we were getting eaten by little black flies.

The Trail

After all that climbing I was looking forward to getting onto some trail. The first part is pretty mellow with some fun corners but the fun totally depends how much blow down there is on the trail. Luckily we got it on a good day since a few people had been up recently. After getting into the flow of the trail, out of nowhere there is this massive wood bridge that crosses over a large creek(?) that is really the highlight of the beginning part of the trail. Next time I will for sure take pictures of that one. Unfortunately, soon after the bridge the trail takes a serious turn up hill again forcing you off the bike to push up a short but quite annoying path to the 'real' top of the trail.

From the Top

The top of the trail (two photos below) it would definitely feel like being in the middle of nowhere if it weren't for being able to see Nelson in the distance. Dropping in the trail is fairly low angle with some fun corners through some strange ditches that are probably left over from mining. It's clear that this section doesn't get as much traffic as the trail isn't nearly as defined and cut in as the lower sections. Before you know it you're going past the Cabin entrance.

From the Cabin

Past the cabin the trail quickly starts to get steeper and looser. It peaks in difficulty at the mine tailings (photo below) that I probably only clean half of the time depending how blown out they are. This section consists of a few steep, chewed up, loose corners some of which are off camber. There's only one spot that makes me dab near the top and if I get past that the rest is no problem. After the mine tailings the trail gets mellower again with a few fun berms that quickly spit you out at high speed past the lowest entrance to the trail.

From Bears Den

This is the best section of trail. Maybe I think that because it is the least technical part and you can really haul ass through it. It seems like every bit of this section is littered with little natural jumps and fantastic berms, broken up nicely by rollercoaster bridges. It's pretty much the mountain bike equivalent of pumping around in a bowl, but way better. There are a few parts that I distinctly remember but the one that I like trying to describe is a quick section where the trees open up a little bit. You need to be set up for it and come through the left hander before it as fast as possible because on the left side of the open straight section there are four little mounds of dirt that with enough speed turns the entire section into two long doubles finishing with a narrower rollercoaster bridge. No matter how many times I do it I never feel like I have enough speed to make the doubles when I'm going into them but always clean the section with no issue. This section used to be fun on my full DH bike but is certainly way more entertaining when on my Stumpjumper or Enduro. The trail ends shortly after this, finishing what is probably the most flowy trail in Nelson.

Where To Now?

At this point it used to mean that you were on your way to Placenta to finish the ride down to the highway. While Placenta is fun on a smaller bike, it's definitely a bit of an ass kicker. At the end of this year Riley, who built Powerslave, put in a connector trail called Upper Illuminati to connect to mid way down the original part of Illuminati. So far I've only done one lap down this in the snow but it is very obviously going to be my line of choice from now on since it continues the rest of the feel of lower Powerslave with glorious berms and more killer woodwork. After Illuminati my choice if I want to keep things tame is to do Plunger which was also new this season and was designed to be user friendly for less skilled riders.

I could describe some of the other line choices on Morning Mountain, but I'll leave that for future posts with other GPS maps. Of course, buying a copy of the Cycling Club map book is fantastic idea.

Final Thoughts

So, is this ride worth it? Yes, kind of. It's good to get in the bag once a year but it's not something that I crave to do again. I will ride the new upper section next year but this ride with Jeremy I don't think was worth the extra effort to get to for the average weekend ride and I would way rather just drop into the Cabin entrance and link that to another trail, which is exactly what I do most of the time.


Ride Stats:

I can't check from the GPS map since I did another trail afterwards so the numbers aren't accurate. These numbers are just a rough idea.

Elevation: roughly 1300m / ~4300 feet
Distance: Between 40 and 45km from town back to town
Time: 3.5 hours probably

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