Thursday, 20 December 2012

Driving snow across frozen Granite Lake in the Smith Range

Blinding snow drives across frozen Granite Lake in the Smith Range. The access from Green Trail junction skirts by the lake and connects to the Sunshine Coast Trail on the eastern end of it.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Elephant Lake Dec. 9, 2012

Overcast, around 0 degrees. Road still good up to the trail, 8-10" snow. no bugs.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Friday, 21 September 2012

Old Tin Hat road/trail open again

The old Tin Hat road/trail is reopened again. We drove up the old road/trail last
Sunday, September 16th...

...and worked down from the cabin on the East Ridge section of the East Tin Hat Ridge Trail.

We brushed out again the last missing klick down to where we had left off coming from below about a month or so ago, putting up markers and bucking deadfall on that outing. This past Sunday we also marked with the red metal markers, plus put up flagging tape for winter conditions.

In the next few weeks, or sooner, Western Forest Products will be blasting to build a road below the lower section of the East Tin Hat Ridge trail and so that section will have to be closed temporarily. Day hikers have to use the old Tin Hat road/trail coming and going to the hut, or through hiking...

...from Fiddlehead Landing
to Elk Lake and huts farther south
via Tin Hat (donated carving by B. Fader).

AlphaBetaGamma E-100 Knuckleheads open again

Rick writes:

"FYI Alpha Beta Gamma E 100 in open to 4X4. Just don't try to get a 3/4 ton in as there are a couple of narrow spots."
Thanks for the work, Rick and confreres. Just in time for fall and winter expeditions.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Lois Lake Main line closed from August 14 to 21

Attached please find a notice of road closure for the Lois Lake FSR at approximately 7.6 km.
The road will be closed to all vehicle traffic from August 14 to August 21.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Trail Signage Replacements

This week  Bill, who is visiting from the Eastern Seaboard, and Eagle went out to various locations on the Sunshine Coast Trail at trailheads or intersections with roads or trails, replacing missing signage.

Bill is putting the finishing touches to the signage at Branch 10, near Rieveley's Pond, now once again clearly marked and signed. Easy now partner, watch that thumb.

On Fairview Bay Trail at the Towers, the new reroute - which now traverses the OGMA (Old Growth Management Area) at a lower elevation - has received the old signage that had been in place just up the hill at the start of the old trail section.

Ahstrom Point claims to be half an hour away from the end of the Pole Line at the Towers, while Fairview Bay indicates one hour.

New signage is once again in place where the SCT crosses Plummer Creek Road.

At the confluence of Plummer Creek and Toquenatch Creek a long established campsite with outhouse and picnic tables received some brandnew signage. This campsite was built together with the Rotary Club of Powell River

Next day Bill was putting up signage at yet another intersection of trails. Here the Exit via Spire Trail allows hikers to find their way to Lund and to Sarah Point Road. Malaspina Road and Manzanita Hut are the other directions. Which way to Colorado please?

Going the distance... applying yet another sign to ensure people find their way across intersecting roads.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Tin Hat Reroute - August 2012

Western Forest Products is logging two cutblocks that are going up across the old Tin Hat Road access to Tin Hat summit and hut. That road is temporarily closed.

We have had an understanding that no logging should impact the SCT during the high tourism season in the summer, but somehow this was not possible here.

We requested that the new road being built to log the two cutblocks going up the old Tin Hat road be kept open for recreational access after logging is complete, and that a parking area / turn-around on one of their pull-outs be established near its topmost extent where the old road/trail carries on uphill through the forest toward the summit.

This location is less than an hour from the Tin Hat hut near the summit. Stuart Glen, operations planner with WFP, has agreed to this. The road access to the new  turnaround / parking area will be a considerable improvement over the Old Tin Hat Road as it has wider and thus more gently inclined switchbacks. In fairness this is a good compensation for the temporary inconvenience in that it will make Tin Hat more accessible to the public.

This picture is taken on the lower end of old Tin Hat Road advising you to not go up there because of active falling. Richard and his wife Cecile, two Dutch through-hikers doing the SCT, managed to find their way through after hours, but found it a little confusing. The mapping installed by WFP should be adjusted by now so this will help people get through.

Please study the alternate access to Tin Hat off Lewis Lake Main around the back of that lake's northeast end where the SCT crosses the main and climbs up Pipes Canyon past Cranberry pond up onto the East Ridge of Tin Hat Mountain. This is a much longer and difficult access and only suitable for experts - with a hiking time of about three to four hours. It is pretty though with old growth and views.

The easy access we have enjoyed driving up the old Tin Hat Road is unavailable at this time until the trees that are felled now have been pulled out, which we hope will be soon.

Later this summer the old Tin Hat Road will be reopened again, but the East Ridge approach will then be closed due to road building in the vicinity of the SCT, but not on it. Blasting for road building purposes requires a wide safety zone as rocks can sometimes fly several hundred metres. We are grateful that WFP found a way of not logging across the SCT on that part of the Tin Hat East Ridge trail section. A buffer has been provided in this instance.

Richard and Cecile carried on from Tin Hat south along the SCT through the Smith Range. They stayed at Elk Lake and Walt Hill huts, and took a picture of themselves at KM 135 fairly close to Stillwater Main and Eagle River where they finished their trek.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Maintenance, Reopenings, Reroutes to July 14, 2012

Recent maintenance activities, and reopenings, as well as reroutes on the SCT:
  • Mowat Bay from Powell River Bridge to Mowat Bay - cleared out
  • Community track from Mowat Bay to Tony's Trail Connector - unobstructed
  • March Lake section bucked and cleaned, though still tricky navigation with road and trail sharing the same location - will soon provide logging map that shows the trail in the SCT website's new map section
  • Will also post Fiddlehead area map info in the new map section
  • Map of reroute on Tin Hat Mountain will also be posted there
  • Eagle River Trail from Dixon Road north to Goat Main reopened - blow down has been salvaged
  • Eagle River from ford to dam - cleared out
  • Lois Lakeshore - the blowdown in first km from dam toward Branch 41 - bucked and cleared

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Walt Hill Hut

We have added another missing link in the hut-to-hut chain - this one at Walt Hill, on Penstemon Bluff, so you can now stay in a different hut each day from Inland Lake to Lang Bay. Please visit the Hut blog to find details on the building of the hut, and the area.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

REOPENED: Manzanita - Gwendoline Hills and Eagle River

The section of the SCT that runs from Malaspina Road to Manzanita Hut in part through the private managed forest lands has been reopened again. The loggers are finished and the remaining wood piled about will be apparently taken out by firewood contractors in the fall. That means the occasional pick up truck coming in and cleaning up. It is our understanding that the area will be replanted in the next planting season.

The section of the SCT heading north from the Dixon Road crossing is reopened again. The massive trees that blew over in the March storms this year are still not salvaged but a temporary reroute goes around the boots and boles and makes passage possible. In the coming weeks Western will salvage the blow down.

Passage through the old Fiddlehead Farm is also reopened again as the nearby logging is complete.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Creek Four and Spring/Lewis Lake Reopened

Recent trail closures due to nearby road building activities of two sections of the Sunshine Coast Trail (Creek Four up from Lois Lake up toward Elephant Lake, as well as from Spring Lake to Lewis Lake) have run their course. The SCT is open again in these two sections, as is the trail just to the north of Fiddlehead Farm near the old Giovanni Creek bridge.

One section up from Dixon Road to Mile 4 at Goat Main has been closed due to about a dozen large trees that blew down in the late winter storm have to be dealt with yet by Western FP. There is no joy in trying to go through that tangle and so it has been blocked off for now and will very soon be reopened again as this is a very popular and usually very accessible section of the SCT. Reroute signage has been put in place. Stay tuned. We will inform you of the reopening.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Manzanita Hut Access and Visitors

During April and May a couple of PAWS work parties accessed the Gwendoline Hills section of the Sunshine Coast Trail by way of the Okeover cutblock. Final logging activities were finished in May. The owners, Island Timberland, are planning on restocking the cutblock in the next planting season. 

Where the SCT traverses a corner of private forestland the owner had agreed to leave a buffer trees along the trail.

Some trees had blown down in the buffer during recent wind storms and had blocked the trail a mile south of the Manzanita Hut. Above is a view looking southward from Manzanita Bluff toward 3 K Bluff and the cutblock.

Fortunately the Rhododendron Grove remained intact throughout the logging and the howling storms. The rhodos are nearing the end of their bloom, a delightful visual feast along the trail.
Bruce and Terry, part of the maintenance crew, are happy with the May Day results.

One more final check in the coming week will ensure that the trail is completely re-established and tidy.

Today, visitors from Terrace hiked up to Manzanita Hut from Malaspina Road and found the obstacles removed. Another group from the Lower Mainland and Davies Bay came up via Sarah Point Road and the Spire Access Trail.

The hikers were astonished by the sudden apparition of the hut in the woods. There were some light-hearted musings of living up on idyllic Manzanita Bluff.

Later that day this group of merry media moguls and tourism representatives met at Herondell B&B mixing with locals and enjoying a BBQ. They also got to sample the first locally produced beer from nascent Townsite Craft Brewery.

They seemed to have enjoyed their stay.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Finishing Touches prior to Shuffle

We have been putting the finishing touches to the Shuffle route.

A small bridge across a tributary stream below Toquenatch Falls received some new decking. The recent rains have saturated the ground, the streams and creeks are running vigorously, and some of the rich soils of the "jungles" are testing our claim of having the Sunshine Coast Trail 99% mud-free. There are a few soft spots that a hundred of the registered feet might expose, adding an adventurous allure for some of the shufflers.

For those who would prefer a real slushy experience just for the fun of it, we have a special section along Little Sliammon Lake where the beavers have been busy raising the level of the lake by nearly a foot and putting a stretch of the trail under water. This will be really fun. You can't miss it.

Well, actually you can, if you want. We built a 100 foot trail reroute that is high and dry, and will allow you to keep your feet cosy if you prefer that option.


The latest addition on the SCT accommodations side of things are some surprise shelters.


The architects and builders of these shelters are unknown, but a minimalist abode such as this is something everyone should try out, at least once.

 These shelters come with fire ring, lean-to and privy, and have their very own je n'est sais quoi.

 Layers of hemlock boughs promise a soft and aromatic rest.

 Rear view of one of the idyllic Homestead Haunts. Come back and stay awhile.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Marathon Shuffle Sunday, April 29

For the last month and a half volunteers of the Tuesday and Sunday work parties have spent 150 hours to prepare the 29-km long Shuffle Route on the Sunshine Coast Trail for the 19th Annual Marathon Shuffle.  This event takes place on Sunday, April 29, 2012. A bus is available at the finish line at the Shingle Mill to take you at 8:00 am to the starting line at Malaspina Road. Cost of bus $5.00 - first come, first served. Start of Shuffle 8:30 am. Participants take part at their own risk. Click here to find out more about the Marathon Shuffle, and to register:

One work party, as the PR PAWS volunteers were working on grooming the trail, the Sunday Hikers were coming through passing here at Dogleg Pond.

Phil, one of the Sunday Hikers expresses his appreciation of having a trail cleared of blow down and groomed for a stroll.

On another Trailday outing Don is making short shrift of a wall of salal.

Jim is taking a breather from running the weed whacker at the Shangri-La swimming dock on Little Sliammon Lake.

Now you see him, now you don't. No, Jim is not playing hide and seek. One of the many trees that were blown over in two very aggressive March storms pummeling the region fell across the the trail. First we cut the branches, then sawed off the top.

The Shuffle route has never been in better condition with first attention going to cutting out the extensive blow-down that the storms had brought. Many of the fallen trees were decayed and week, but others were vibrant, just in the way of violent gusts. That's the way of the forest. Day in day out.

Once the blow down was bucked and moved out of the way, we began with brushing back vigorously growing salal and salmon berry bushes, so wet leaves would not brush against the boots or running shoes of the Shufflers.

More of the orange-red markers, as well as wooden directional signs, have been put up as well. Additionally, orange arrows have been painted onto the trail at critical locations so as to help hikers and runners navigate the trail.

In the coming months we will carry on cutting out trees that have fallen across the trail. If you know of the location of some blow-down impeding easy hiking please get in touch with us so we can put them on the To Do list. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Deer Creek Reroute Update

(on Smokey's Blue Ridge Trail section of the Sunshine Coast Trail)

Once upon a time before we knew what was what we designed the Sunshine Coast Trail in such a way that it came straight out of the Smith Range down through Suicide Pass and headed southward into the lowlands toward the bottom end of Lois Lake where we had to cross Eagle River. This was and still is some of the best growing land for trees on the coast. Some mossy century-old wood skid roads that had been used to take the first crop out of these foothills were ideal for our purposes because they ran in the direction we needed to go.
They were a trailbuilder's delight because once you had found them, and bucked and cleared out all the tangle of woody debris and dead-fall that obscured them, you had a lovely trail on which you could amble along.

But we caught on eventually, realizing we couldn't keep the whole of the SCT where we had located it initially some 20 years ago...

.... because the licensee had to make a living and liked the look of the stands of timber we were traversing with the trail.

This pressure increased. With much of the accessible old growth at the ends of the distant valleys now logged, the industry's eyes returned to the front country where second growth had aged sufficiently and began to look very attractive.


And so in the last half dozen years, we've had to negotiate reroutes for some sections of the trail. Naturally, it's meant more work, time and expense, but in the process we have gained final resting places for segments of the SCT, gained certainty for this increasingly popular recreation and tourism resource. Some of these reroutes have turned out very nicely indeed. Some sections have been relocated out onto rocky outcroppings that have provided natural vistas, 

and opportunities to try our hand at a variety of ways of making the trail safe and enjoyable, as here at the Stairway to Heaven in cutblock ST-245.

That's not to say we want to rebuild 180 km of the Sunshine Coast Trail. But we can see that sometimes it can be an agreeable resolution. It is work that absorbs significant amounts of time and resources.

Some reroutes, as in the case of the Deer Creek Reroute, a kilometre farther uphill from the Stairway, have benefited from the establishment of stand-level Wildlife Tree Retention Areas (WTRAs), or by being placed in riparian zones, such as the headwaters of this pretty little creek that now protects and enhances the integrity and viability of this part of the Sunshine Coast Trail.

We want certainty, and with that the ability to do long-range planning.
What has enabled PR PAWS to carry on concurrently with its hut-building program plus rebuilding sections of the 180 km-long SCT a second time has been the inspiring support we have received from dozens of generous volunteers in this community. We have been able to draw on the talented pool of hut- and trail-builders who have ensured the continued existence and success of the Sunshine Coast Trail. We are exceedingly thankful for their contributions. We are also thankful for donations from in and out of town.

Not only has this recreation/tourism facility given Powell River's residents and visitors opportunities to reach extraordinarily beautiful places via a world-class hiking trail (like Tin Hat above after a blizzard), but it has also aided the biodiversity and wildlife of this region. Seven huts now grace the length of the trail and a few more will be built this year and next.

The new Deer Creek Reroute (ST-232) winds along through a picturesque ravine, crossing and recrossing the lively stream four times by means of small bridges.  

The creek runs crystal clear.

To welcome hikers we have built a bench from native materials found on site.

Here Lyn is driving in the last spike of the skookum three-seater

that overlooks the falls.

Then he studies the fish-stream above the new bench.

On another trailday outing Jim is pounding spikes into the slabs that ensure we keep honoring one of our early and still quoted mottoes for the Sunshine Coast Trail - "99% Mud Free". It's more like 99.99%, really.

Of course we have also attached markers and signage so that users can feel confident they are on the right trail and are traveling in the right direction.

Here are two slabs ripped from a single downed cedar that had fallen years ago, but did not rot because much of it came to rest in the air. One continuous 18-foot cut provides the stringers for the uppermost bridge of the reroute.

Dipper gives them the stamp of approval.

First, Terry attaches the turfer (a type of come-along) to a tree on one side of the drainage and the stringers on the other. Then, while Ron keeps the cable clear and free, he starts ratcheting home the stringers with Don and Dipper guiding them.

One more mighty heave and both slabs are lined up almost side by side.

A little more ratcheting and lifting into place...

 ...and Terry is happier than a hot dog - and more playful than a puppy. Catch me if you can.

Meanwhile, Ron cuts two more sills to keep the wee bridge high and dry while Don steadies it safely.

The little bridge looks good and one last offending obstruction is being pummeled into submission.

 The crossing meets with Double Ron's approval.

On yet another trailday outing Don and Terry seek shelter from the steady rain after having grubbed for a couple of hours. They will enjoy a somewhat dry lunch, before getting back to grubbing the new trail.

It took us 200 man hours during January and February to build the reroute, including the four little bridges, and the bench. A dozen different volunteers were involved in doing the work. We'll likely be back to build a picnic table in the coming weeks, but now we have to focus on the 19th annual Marathon Shuffle, which will take place on Sunday, April 29th. That popular event starts at Km 21 of the SCT at Malaspina Road and ends up at the Shingle Mill at Km 50, and so we have to make sure that this stretch of the Sunshine Coast Trail is spic and span. We are hoping to attract many hikers and runners to join the numerous locals. The Half Shuffle is getting to be quite popular as well and can be completed in a few leisurely hours.

Are you in?
Are you in shape?
It's a good time to start now.

Here three happy hikers approaching the finish line last year. Yeah, they are ready for some refreshments.

To get to the Stairway to Heaven and the Deer Creek reroutes of the Sunshine Coast Trail drive to Lang Bay store south of Powell River on Highway 101, and turn uphill on Dixon Road which is paved for the first mile. Just after the pavement ends near the last house (Last Chance Store) Dixon Road will rise and pass the gravel pits that are on either side. A hundred metres beyond the crest of Dixon Road pull over tight on the right for adequate parking space along the busy road.

A wooden sign indicates SCT North on the upper (left) side of the road, and a couple of red diamond markers indicate where you have to enter the trailhead. About a 20 minute hike will take you through an older reroute (ST-245) to a crossing of another logging road, Goat Main at Mile 4.

From there it's a short climb up to the Stairway to Heaven and on from there another 20 minutes to the start of the reroute. All in all it could take about an hour from Dixon Road to the end of Deer Creek reroute where it emerges onto Old Hastings Road. For now this is your turn around point because logging and road building (ST-235) is still carrying on above here well into April.

Western Forest Products can work out passage with trekkers (long distance through-hikers) as long as they are aware you wish to pass through on a given day. Contact WFP (604-485-3100) to make these safety arrangements.

Otherwise, for daytrips do turn around here at Old Hastings Road and rest a bit at the creek, look around, have a snack, keep hydrated and then head back downhill to the car. We hope you enjoyed your hike.

Terry and Don came back this week and started crafting the boards and sleepers for the new picnic table they are building. Another trailday and we'll be eating smokies by the side of Deer Creek.

Well here's another Trailday outing with Andy and Terry. We've fastened together the logs with iron rebar and ripped the cedar planks. They are making sure the planks sit nice and snug on the sleepers. 

Did somebody say time for lunch?

One sure gets hungry out here.

There were a fair number of danger trees in the vicinity of the picnic table that is obscured here by the split and stacked wood.

Terry and Andy assume a pose that is century-old. Like the woodworkers of old they show their value-added product. Good job, men.