Hanging Lake Trail: The Gratification of Trail Clearing

First snow of the season

First snow of the season

British Columbia contains some of the wildest wilderness on Earth, and yet very few trails run through it. For us, outdoor fanatics, there is constant tension between wanting more trails to access the back country contrasted with wanting less trails to keep the wilderness as it is.

Those few trails are generally maintained by volunteers, at least the ones outside of parks, and BC Parks suffers from an ongoing lack of funds that hampers their work. Other than lobbying the provincial and federal government for more funding for new trails and the maintenance of the existing ones, what are we to do? Go trail clearing ourselves, of course!

Ski Boots: the best choice of footwear for soggy work hikes

Ski Boots: the best choice of footwear for soggy work hikes

Scott Nelson organized this trail clearing mission for the Hanging Lake Trail, a ski trail that he pioneered a few years ago. I had used the trail several times over the past few years, so I felt a responsibility to help maintain it. After our two week vacation in Israel, and return to a rainy autumn in Vancouver, driving to the trailhead up a snowy logging road was a good reminder that ski season is around the corner.

Matt showing off the power of the beloved ratchet pruners

Matt showing off the power of the beloved ratchet pruners

Armed with ratchet pruners and bow saws, we set out to clear a three meter wide swath through the forest, to allow easier skiing in the early season, when this section is not well covered. I was surprised at how bushy the trail was, since I had only seen it in mid winter when a meter or two of snow covered up most of the low growth. We cut down many dozens of small trees, high branches, bushes, and even a bit of the much hated devil’s club. It was a very productive trip, and importantly, also a fun way to spend a day in the fall!

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