Gary Robbins, before departing on a 37 hours and 29 minute trek through 110 miles of mountain terrain. (Submitted photo)

Chilliwack’s Gary Robbins maps out epic trail across eight mountains

Robbins spent nearly 40 hours covering 110 miles and over 10,000 metres of elevation gain

A Chilliwack man has done something not done before, and has the video to prove it.

Gary Robbins has mapped out and run a spectacular 110 mile backwoods route from Cultus Lake to Chilliwack and back, crossing eight mountain peaks during a 37 hour and 29 minute trek. Footage from his epic journey was captured by a videographer and will be turned into a short documentary that will be posted to YouTube.

Robbins’ goal isn’t fame or fortune, it’s to highlight the largely unknown natural splendour hidden in our own backyard.

“My desire is to show off how ridiculously beautiful and accessible the terrain in Chilliwack is,” he explained. “It surprises me that we have a backyard that is absolutely world class, but even our own neighbors within a 60 to 90 minute radius have very little knowledge of that.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a trailblazer, but I would say I’m passionate about showing off how incredible this area is.”

READ MORE: Agassiz trail runner looks to conquer local mountains

READ MORE: How Sumas Mountain’s trails were saved

Robbins got his first good look at Chilliwack six years ago and was blown away by the natural beauty.

He saw towering mountains surrounded by acres of lush forested landscape, much of it barely touched by man. But as he started talking to locals, he was amazed at how little they knew. When Robbins and his family moved from North Vancouver to Chilliwack a year ago, he decided to do something about it.

On that trip five years earlier, he gazed up at the stunning summits of Mounts Webb, MacDonald, Lindeman, Slesse, Crossover, MacFarlane, McGuire and Church. He looked at maps and thought to himself, ‘It’d be really cool if you could go up and over all those mountains and back to Chilliwack.’

Poring over whatever maps he could find, Robbins didn’t see evidence that it was possible, but once he moved here and got to look at those mountains every single day, curiosity compelled him to investigate.

“I trolled more maps, did more research and put boots on the ground, and I started to piece together that it was possible,” he said. “Once I realized it all linked together without any out-and-backs or double-backs or loops or anything else where I would see the same section twice, I was excited to see that it all made sense.”

Robbins is an ultra-distance trail and mountain runner who competes internationally.

Eighteen times previously he’s tackled the 100 mile distance.

“When I drew it all out on a map and saw that it was 110 miles to go from Cultus Lake to Chilliwack and back, with over 10,000 metres (32,808.4 feet) of elevation gain, those statistics lined up with some of the most desirable races in North America and the world.

“One hundred miles with 30,000 feet of elevation gain is the barometer of a really amazing mountain race, and I couldn’t believe my good fortune to discover a line that had never been identified before or pursued in the manner of a singular run.”

The next step was to take what was on paper and put it into practice.

Robbins invested over 50 hours into more recon, and over the weekend of Aug. 28-30 he finally tackled the whole thing.

He had to do a fair amount of bush-whacking and off-trail navigation during the 37 hours and 29 minute run. It was equal parts exciting and grueling, but Robbins said the sights and sounds helped keep him going when things got tough, particularly after stomach issues hit him hard both nights.

“The more time you spend in your own head the more challenging it becomes, but this route let me externalize a lot of moments because what I was looking at was so stunning beautiful,” he said. “This route definitely had much more reward than most, and that prevented me from getting overwhelmed contemplating the timeline, elevation and distance.

“The scenery was a necessary distraction.”

Robbins is calling his route ‘The Big Chill,’ and hopes his story and the video that is coming soon will inspire others to follow.

In the meantime, he’s already thinking about his next project.

“My initial big allure was the Cheam range, and how to link that up in a single pursuit, but this stole my attention,” Robbins said. “It shows how spoiled we are that I’ve done a 170 kilometre mountain run, and yet I still have another entire side of the Chilliwack River Valley to dive into.”


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

chilliwackTrails

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

The annual Rotary Christmas Parade won’t be going ahead this year as it did last year, rolling through downtown Chilliwack on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Rotary Christmas Celebration for children will replace downtown Chilliwack parade this year

Parade committee felt it ‘inappropriate’ to host Christmas parade with thousands in the stands

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the Fraser South region has doubled in the last two weeks. The number of cases in the Fraser East region has tripled.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
COVID-19 surge in B.C. fuelled by spikes in new cases in Fraser Valley & Surrey area

Number of newly confirmed cases has tripled in Fraser Valley and doubled in the Surrey/Langley area

John Redekop, with wife Doris, was the 2019 recipient of the Betty Urquhart Community Service Award from UFV. (Photo courtesy of UFV)
Nominations open until Oct. 30 for UFV’s Betty Urquhart Awards

Award recognizes ‘significant impact’ of volunteer work by an individual or group

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

The family of Anika Janz, who died after collapsing at school, has launched a GoFundMe to assist with funeral proceedings. (GoFundMe photo)
Family of student who died launches GoFundMe

Rick Hansen Secondary School student Anika Janz, 14, died after collapsing in PE class

Most Read