Monday, 13 July 2009

Fiddlehead to Eagle River

Sunshine Coast Trail - Section 4 (Fiddlehead to Eagle River)

Yesterday John and I drove to Fiddlehead Farm to make sure hikers would not have any difficulties making it through that area which was impacted by logging and extensive road building a handful of years ago now. We found that about a dozen of our carved wooden directional signs have been vandalized, either ripped off the trees and taken away altogether, or demolished and tossed into the bushes.

Anticipating some loss of signage we had brought 8 new carved signs and installed them, and more metal markers, as well as additional flagging through the slash. Though still more signs are required yet, this interim measure should ensure that hikers will be able to make their way through the warren of roads when they come into the valley, accessing either the West Tin Hat trail section, or the Fiddlehead Trail section to Confederation Lake.

We met a couple who bicycled to Fiddlehead and set up camp in the valley. They've been holidaying in the area, exploring the trails. They've talked to trekkers coming down from Confederation Lake, and from Tin Hat, and so we know that these SCT sections are traversable. Someone is reportedly doing the whole Sunshine Coast Trail from bottom to top. And the student crew encountered a couple trekking in the opposite direction.

The Gallagher Hill to Tony's Trail black hole of disappearing trailhead fiasco is good this week. The sign is still there and the red spray paint marking applied artistically by Bruce is as attractive as ever. The trail is not covered up and disguised by woody debris and branches. So this week you could find your way through without your GPS. That's a good thing for most of us.

We also noted that signs along Goat Lake Main Mile 4 and the Spring Lake Main have been vandalized and are missing. This makes it difficult for people to access even some popular destination such as Tin Hat Mountain.

We now have to ask Jim to make dozens more signs and then go out to put them on the many intersections of the trail with the roads. Yesterday we had to show some tourists to find the trail/road going up to Tin Hat who had driven past the turn-off as a result of the missing signage.

Alaska Pine road has been used as an alternate trail route while Western FP is completing the logging on and around the March Lake Trail (SCT) west and south of Spring Lake (ST-822). Pre-poling near Alaska Pine is completed and cleaned up.
Hauling will be completed soon as well. We'll keep you posted.

While there are a few trees down between Alaska Pine road and Elk Lake, the weekend hikers reported after their hike of a couple of weeks ago that they had no problems stepping over the deadfall and getting up to Elk Lake. From there the inside route is open, and you can stroll to Granite Lake, and make your way up from there to Coyote Lake, and up onto Walt Hill. As you head south off the summit down along the old growth ridge, and onto the end of the old logging spur you will have to navigate around, or over a few trees on this short section, but as Bill Price and Val Smith reported, they had no problems getting through. We will get in there in the next couple of days and clean this out as well to make hiking more pleasurable.

So, to conclude, Fiddlehead to Eagle River, the mid-section of the SCT can be used by the experienced hikers, but there are areas that can be a challenge. We know that the northern section of the 180 km long Sunshine Coast Trail from Sarah Point to Fiddlehead, and the southern section from Lois Lake to Saltery Bay, are good to excellent.

Please let us know if there are areas where the signage has gone missing, or trees are down. It will help us pinpoint the problem and address it more quickly, and take the guesswork and anxiety out of hiking for the visitors to this area and many local people who are just beginning to become familiar with it.

Enjoy the trail in good health and good spirits.

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