Monday, 4 August 2008

March Lake and Fiddlehead Trails

View of East Tinhat Ridge seen from Lewis Lake campsite

After two seriously rainy days the fabulous summer weather we've been experiencing during July has returned in full force for the BC Day long weekend, with more of it being forecast into the foreseeable future. We celebrated our third annual BC Day Camp Out at Lewis Lake by cleaning out the first two km of the March Lake (SCT). Scott, John, Ron, Carol and I re-established this level trail that allows you to walk side by side, a conducive configeration to conversation.

Last year after the trail buffer protections we had negotiated in the Stillwater Pilot had been nullified by government, we were once again negotiating. The March Lake Trail buffer beyond the two km of variable retention we had just cleared was on the operating table. Western Forest Products consulted with us as to how much of the buffer they would leave if they would leave one at all. We had a handful of meetings and a field trip to try to limit the damage. Finally we agreed that the historic railroad grade would continue to be the location of the March Lake Trail, but that some small sections of it were going to get logged, while other sections would get a 30 m buffer on either side, and that about 500 m of it would get covered over by the new "narrow" logging road, which afterwards would be re-established as the trail. After a visit in the field on the weekend it appears that far more logging along and on top of the trail is being contemplated than what we had agreed to.

A Tale of Two Treatments: The loggers for Western were to heed the tourism/recreation values inherent in the trail. However, once again we witness the recurring inability of industry to implement agreements in the field. The men on the machines obliterated two entrances of the trail where it intersects with the new logging road. A root the size of a small house was dumped on one of the entrances, and felled trees were decked all along the road five to ten feet high. Someone new to the trail would be turned back in frustration. And the volunteers once again are forced to spend hours to relocate the trail around this man made obstacle. Or else just forget about it and let the trail die. We object to these destructive acts. This is not right.

Scott's feet are on the trail, and behind him are roots, logs and debris piled ten feet high.

At two other crossings consideration was given to tourism where the trail is easily accessed and the disturbed ground was leveled out and even hydroseeded making it a breeze to get back onto the trail on the other side of the road. Included in this post you will see the difference between the two treatments.

A gentle transition from road surface to trail surface - hydroseeded green patch on the right. Now that's more like it.

On Sunday we ascended Fiddlehead Trail from the valley up the ridge toward Confederation Lake. We cleared three kilometers of this trail climbing, sawing and snipping up to the 400 m level to the Goat Island viewpoint. Though many trees were down, most were smallish and no real problem stepping over them, or in some cases around. On Tuesday Bruce, Ron and I returned to clear and remark the remainder of the Fiddlehead Trail up to Confederation Lake. Although we got an early start, the heat followed us up the mountain as we removed debris, cut through logs and hung more ribbons. We finished after a late lunch at the cabin and now the SCT is cleared through from Sarah Point to Fiddlehead Farm. Now the entire section through Inland Lake Provincial Park is cleared all the way to Fiddlehead, a lovely hike through a vibrant forest with occasional views, a high elevation lake, and significant old growth.

Many other sections through the mid-section (Fiddlehead to Eagle River) are cleared as well but we haven't revisited all of them yet. The March Lake Trail of course is not navigable. Hikers must use the alternate route which is accessed 200 m farther south on Spring Lake Main down from the March Lake trailhead. This shorter temporary reroute uses the old Alaska Pine Road where it heads south off Spring Lake Main just short of KM 6. It is intersected by a logging road, and requires walking on a few hundred meter long section of another new logging road which eventually veers off up the mountainside while the old packed dirt Alaska Pine Road continues at elevation for another two km and then splits. Just at that point you will notice signage on both sides of the old road indicating March Lake Trail and SCT signage. Turn left to get off the reroute and onto the trail. It will take you through an impressive old growth Douglas fir stand near March Creek, and then on to March Lake and up the hill to Elk Lake and points south.

No comments: